11 strategy management insights from the AFP



MY four years of exposure to the Institute for Solidarity in Asia’s (ISA) public governance reform program, the Performance Governance System (PGS), enhanced by training, reading of related literature, and experience, provided me with key strategy execution management insights. These, I strongly believe, are internally true to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and could be a helpful reference for other PGS practitioners and institutions interested in undertaking a governance program.

1) The beauty of the Performance Governance System lies in its ability to correlate and highlight the importance of the AFP’s internal systems. Defense System of Management (DSOM) and Joint Operations Planning and Execution System (JOPES), which are indispensable to strategy formulation and strategy execution, are now in synergy and in harmony with each other, providing the needed leverage to achieve the AFP’s transformation vision, which is to become “a world-class armed forces, a source of national pride” by 2028.

2) The desired organizational outcome in a balanced scorecard bears the weight of a commander’s intent. Therefore, it is a must for the units and offices within the organization’s structure to capture driver objectives falling under their respective functional areas and treat these objectives as their own to warrant the attainment of the commander’s intent.

3) In the identification of your change agenda to transform, never fall into the trap of scratching the surface. Go to the core; this will warrant the rectification of the root cause of the problem instead of merely addressing the indicators. In short, stop only when you have exhausted all answers to the question “why”.

4) One of the misconceptions about the balanced scorecard has to do with treating each perspective equally. “Balanced” means that every perspective integral to efficiently and effectively run the organization deserves a look. I can’t recall any literature that says each perspective should be given equal weight; programs, projects and activities must be heaviest in the perspective that requires the greatest healing.

5) In crafting your strategy, always see to it that identified objectives complement and reinforce each other in such a way that their cause and effect relationship becomes too visible to be ignored. If you can achieve this state, consider your desired outcome or outcomes achieved.

6) We are all aware that there is no such thing as perfect strategy. Hence, our efforts should be geared towards the institutionalization of our review mechanisms. This will help us close the gaps brought out by circumstances that are beyond our control.

7) In aligning unit or office objectives to the enterprise, remember that strategy alignment is an art which requires creativity or innovativeness on your part. Answer the question “how can you align” and not “where will you align”, because you are the subject matter of your own unit or office functions. In military lingo, don’t stop at the specified tasks, deliberately identify them.

8) Be guided by proven templates in crafting your strategy, but do not be too dependent on them as these can limit your horizons. Instead, direct your attention to comprehending the synergy and harmony of each entry in the template, for it is only through this understanding that you can steer the development of your strategy execution tools and mechanisms to greater heights.

9) The acme of strategy alignment is attaining a state of “aligned leadership” where the intent of the alpha is converted into actions and is executed down to the lowest pair. Even between equals, one still influences the behavior of the other.

10) For any strategy to hurdle the test of time, the organization must develop the habit of learning from others. Continuing inbreeding causes strategy execution to degenerate in the confines of the organization’s internal structure; no organization has the monopoly of knowledge in a dynamic environment. Mr. Webster calls it “humility”.

11) One of the secrets of effective and efficient strategy execution is the organization’s ability to replicate strategy monitoring tools and mechanisms from strategic to operational to tactical levels. It must be noted, however, that each level has its own complexities and peculiarities; replicating is different from copying.

The author is an officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and previously worked in its Office for Strategic Studies and Strategy Management (OSSSM) as its Strategy Alignment Branch Chief. He is a graduate of the ISA’s Governance Boot Camp, a premier training program for public sector governance practitioners and nation-builders that is held bi-annually in selected regions. To learn more about ISA’s programs, visit isacenter.org.


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  1. Jaime Dela Cruz on

    Interesting article about the AFP. It suggests that the organization is very well run and administratively coherent and responsible of the need of the country.

    “Go to the core; this will warrant the rectification of the root cause of the problem instead of merely addressing the indicators. In short, stop only when you have exhausted all answers to the question “why”.”
    I wonder though “WHY” the AFP stopped their support of the dying SAF44. “WHY” did they not feel morally responsible for the lives of the 44 SAF members? Did they sacrifice the few for the good of many or they just didn’t know how to answer the question “WHY”.

  2. Big ideas well and good but building infrastructure, competent personnel and budget are the core foundation for achieving these ideas attainable only in the author’s imagination. . T his is a college term paper. Unrealistic.

    • The article is from a practicioner’s perspective, and experiential in nature. Any reform and transformational journey it is always a work in progress. I suggest that we as freedom loving Filipinos, it would be helpful to journey with our AFP in this undertaking by watching them closely as an external stakeholder as our humble contribution to the realization of their vision as a source of our nation’s pride. Let’s follow them at their FB account AFP Transformation Roadmap.