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Let us transform to succeed

To achieve growth and socioeconomic development, economies now need to shift from an extensive-growth strategy to a productivity-driven one.

by Dr. Santhi Kanoktanaporn

Change is an important aspect of remaining relevant, and transformation as an outcome must be planned meticulously. That is critical for success and to withstand technology-led disruptions at both economic and social levels while reaping the benefits that the digital economy offers.

In the last two years, the APO worked toward making change happen. We received widespread support in 2018 for adopting the spearhead model and applying contextual awareness, which helped us take the lead on our journey of change and innovation by applying a design-thinking approach to impactful initiatives. We started to train trainers in scenario-based, strategic planning tools to develop foresight practitioners who can then lead others.

During 2018, the APO strategic foresight movement gained steam after completion of the first-phase overview workshops in Bangkok, Manila, and Colombo between September and November. They will go a long way in building the foresight and scenario-planning capabilities of policymakers in member countries so that they can navigate the uncertain global environment and take informed, strategic decisions to sustain productivity growth.

As part of the initiative to help member countries in their journey of transformation and growth, we launched the Specific National Program (SNP). The SNP addresses the distinct needs of member countries to improve productivity and competitiveness for comprehensive socioeconomic growth. The first effort in the SNP series was completed with the handing over of the Cambodia National Productivity Master Plan 2020–2030 in December 2018. The master plan recommends strategic actions for driving Cambodia’s growth strategy, enabling it to achieve upper middle-income country status by 2030.

During the year, the APO also set up an Accreditation Body Council that will accredit national productivity organizations (NPOs) and affiliated organizations to certify productivity professionals. The council will serve as the highest decision-making body and be responsible for providing advice on the policies, guidelines, and strategies for accreditation and certification. The accreditation scheme was developed based on international standards to ensure the quality and relevance of programs offered. The initiative includes the development of new certification programs focusing on future-oriented strategic management or foresight.

One area of great concern over the year was the slow pace of change in the agriculture sector. While agriculture remains the mainstay of the majority of APO economies, it needs to catch up with fast-paced growth in other sectors. In 2018, we started to develop an Agricultural Transformation Framework to help member countries meet their future food needs. The framework will enable governments to modernize agricultural practices and ensure productivity growth in the sector for more inclusive, comprehensive socioeconomic growth.

The Agricultural Transformation Framework will also help member economies swiftly adapt agroindustry to the Industry 4.0 environment. Transforming the agriculture sector for higher productivity and improving food safety will create jobs, raise incomes, and kickstart the economy.

Economic growth as an outcome depends on how well governments align efforts to drive socioeconomic development. To achieve this, economies now need to shift from an extensive-growth strategy to a productivity-driven one. Unlike extensive growth, which relies on expansion of labor and capital resources to drive economic growth, and hence is subject to diminishing returns in the long run, the productivity-driven strategy focusses on efficient, effective use of resources to generate growth.

A national productivity-driven growth strategy must adopt a holistic approach to productivity management that addresses all the proximate factors and enablers affecting the country’s productivity, including those at the enterprise, sectoral, and overall economy levels. However, the approach requires productivity movement at a national level. As part of its initiative to galvanize this movement, the APO has started to work toward creating a comprehensive productivity movement framework that will help member countries focus on those factors and increase per capita GDP for a comprehensive socioeconomic transformation and well-being.

While transformation is key to growth, the focus on technology intervention enables better management of resources for higher productivity. It is also a major equalizer and driving force. It not only binds us together to achieve common goals but also helps us make the right decisions, while enabling proper execution, monitoring, and evaluation to become more productive and competitive. 2018 was a big year for us as we rolled out these transformative initiatives, and we aim to continue the momentum in the year ahead. The value we have created together for the region is unique, and we look forward to continuing our meaningful collaboration for many years to come.

We hope that 2019 brings you many wonderful moments to cherish, new successes to celebrate, and good health, happiness, and peace.

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