leading change in metro manila

Harriet Tregoning, Executive Director of the Smart Growth Leadership Institute, has adapted John Kotter's outline of how to lead change in organizations into a playbook for leading change in the built environment.

Hopefully we can use the playbook to channel our frustrations about the state of our metropolis into an actual movement committed to improving the quality of life in Metro Manila.

Here's the playbook:

  1. Communicate a sense of urgency

  2. You can only campaign for change if people understand why there is a need to change the status quo. I think this is the toughest challenge for Metro Manila. We all know what we don't like. We are all frustrated with the quality of life in the metropolis but none of the reasons stand out as urgent. A litany of what is wrong with the city is not enough. We have to identify the key issues and develop a message that outlines the broad consequences of failing to act on these issues.

    Is it the state of the environment? Pollution? Traffic? The Pasig? Laguna Lake? Quality of life? Housing? Competitiveness? -all of these are pressing and important issues. (The problem is that we have lived with these issues for so long we have been inured to their effects.) The crux lies is finding the key issues that will allow us to go to the next step which is to...

  3. Establish a broad guiding coalition

  4. The driving issues on the table must be powerful enough to bring all the stakeholders to the table. It has to be a strong, multi-sectoral coalition united on the issues. A special interest group will not do. Neither will a coalition of convenience do - not if it waters down the issues.

  5. Develop a vision for an alternative

  6. Disillusion and disatisfaction will not be enough to drive lasting change. The movement must also present a vision for an alternate future. To paraphrase Kennedy: It will not be enough to ask people to complain about what is wrong, we must also inspire them with a vision of what can be.

  7. Constantly communicate the new vision

  8. The work of evangelism is not the exclusive domain of churches. Or to put it another way, you have to infect people with the vision to bring it to reality.

  9. Engage leading local governments

  10. We won't get very far in our campaign for change if we remain outsiders throwing stones. We will have to earn a place at the table and be ready to engage the existing authorities. If we do our work well, the issues we champion will resonate with the electorate and will find their place in the platforms and debates of local candidates.

  11. Leverage catalytic projects

  12. Like I wrote in my previous post, nothing succeeds like success. Change does not always proceed via cataclysmic events. Lasting changes are built on incremental steps - success can build on success. We must find and leverage projects that will: 1) show what our vision looks like on the ground, and 2) allow people to use the success of the project to push for the same changes across the metropolis.

  13. Allow broad-based action by changing systems/structures

  14. The changes we push for hopefully empower people to create more innovation. Here's an example of a different way of doing things: the city of Porto Alegre (Brazil) pioneered direct citizen participation in allocating the municipal budget. It has not only revolutionized the way the city invests in capital projects, it has also created a culture of citizenship. (More on Porto Alegre in a succeeding post.)

  15. Generate short-term wins

  16. Cities do not change overnight. At best, changes can occur over 5 years. More substantive changes happen over 20-30 year cycles. To keep the coalition and the vision energized, the movement must identify and generate short term wins. Better sidewalks? Cleaner esteros? - The vision must be grounded on a strategy -and that strategy must have short-term wins as wayposts.

  17. Consolidate the gains and build on them

  18. See item #6 (above).

  19. Embed changes in the culture

  20. See item #7 (above). -- the end-game must be a culture of citizenship.

Image: Orrery mechanism of the Clock of the Long Now

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