Photojournal - May 2010

27-28 May 2010, ASDS 2010: The official tarp of the 2-day development activities. Teeming with heart-warming and rekindling team spirit through group dynamics and talent showcase, it was unanimously acknowledged as the best and most organized ASDS ever in the history of PLM.
The ASDS has 2 major divisions, the Team Activity and the "PLM Got Talent."

Complete with popper fireworks and drumbeats to accentuate their cheers, the 6 teams belt out lively to root for their own team members who were to represent for and vie to clinch the coveted top place. The Team Activity is full of games that put to test the team spirit, with focus on strategy formulation, timely and calibrated execution of plans, decision-making, clarity in communication flow, support for fellows to achieve a collective aim, strength of spirit, flexibility to rise up to new challenges and unforseen changes of realities, and many others. These group dynamics have a perfect similarity in public service and have a great bearing in enhancing the productivity of the public servants.

Team Building 1:

Flip Tarp: At the onset, it seemed to be a very easy and simple task as the teams start to execute their respective plans. But as the task progresses and heats up and their work area decreases, the difficulty in achieving the aim also amplifies, even as communication breakdown aggravates the situation, thereby weakening the team spirit dramatically. The test of physical and spirit endurance comes in as the goal appears to suddenly become too farfetched to achieve. To avert this, the team leader uses his charisma and enthusiasm well with firmness and focus as he chooses to either persevere in conforming with the planned strategy or to exercise flexibility to enhance their dwindling performance. The leader's efforts at arresting the decline of morale are matched or augmented by the cooperation and oneness of all members.

Public service is similar to flipping the tarp in that public servants have to turn around the plight of the public whom they serve. This is not an easy task, though, as others usually misconstrue. Public servants, even in PLM, often receive prejudiced criticisms and are beset by unsavory treatment -- all of which wane down their spirits; this, despite giving out their very best and produce salutary results that are appreciated by its vast community. Even in the face of unfair prejudices against them and while unscrupulous characters unfairly slight or affront them (which could only saddle their smooth delivery of crucial and essential services), the public servants in PLM continue relentlessly to sustain the high level of excellence for which their services and productivity have been known for through the years. PLM public servants never falter; in moments of difficulty, they turn to each other for support and derive their inspiration from the nobility of their public vocation. And for the community of thousands of scholars and alumni, there is no doubt that they simply are the best!

Even with towering obstacles and seemingly insurmountable hindrances, no amount of problems may restrain the PLM public servants from delivering the public service excellence that they vowed to sustain even in the years to come. Standing as one, they prove to be stronger and mightier than the challenges that come their way.

The sweet taste of victory and the joy of success shared by one another in total jest after hurdling the the challenge. As a line of a song goes, "No mountain too high to conquer."

Team Building 2:

Under a restrained condition and a constricting environment, team members will cross a field filled with mines, represented by an X mark, and treasures scattered all over, under the guidance of 2 team leaders who will convey their instructions on how to drive off safely towards them. On his way to a home run, a team member may be instructed by the leader to pick-up treasures, but is disqualified if he stepped on a landmine. The leader is confronted with the option of either bringing his team safely on board immediately to avoid longer exposure to landmines or to send them to pick up treasures around while still inside the field. The choice is his, but in either case, he has the duty to bring his team safely to home run.

The team leaders as they convey their instructions. Two leaders were chosen, who may send their instructions simultaneously. This presents a possible confusion on the part of the team members as to who he shall follow. In the real-life workplace, a public servant is beset by the dilemma of following many lines of authority which puts him in a very precarious situation if his superiors would give instructions simultaneously, which at times may even be conflicting. A clear cut policy or protocol would help provide clarity and understanding, so that even in times of possible confusion, a public servant can proceed with his role in the team.

A team member treks the field at the behest of the leader, provided that the instructions are conveyed and received correctly in an environment where all teams are in a limbo of simultaneous hustles and bustles. A communication breakdown, dreaded as it is in any kind of relationship (superior-subordinate, employer-employee, husband-wife, etc.), may intrude in this kind of envirionment -- which may cause the downfall of understanding and, ultimately, the pursuit of the common goal. In the real world, the public servants (both the leaders and subordinates) are not only distracted by organizational dynamics, but also by other actual factors and legitimate concerns -- extending from the whole gamut of his living -- from the family to the workplace, relationships (love, kins, neighbors, community), finances and many others.

To keep them from being distracted, the leaders and team members must agree on certain terms so that in spite of the many burdens that saddle them, they can still perform at their optimal best. As any management principle teaches us, the leaders must emphatically understand the financial constraints of their team members who do not normally enjoy the financial stability that leaders usually do; A reasonable financial reward and a simple pat on the back can increase the morale by leaps and bounds.

Both the leaders and the subordinates, as well as the public, must realize that the public servants are not robot machines and are not only human beings who are exposed to the travails of human frailty, but also more of family persons who are affected or distressed by the smallest concerns in the family, especially their doting children; For what good would their competent and efficient public service measure up to if they would be forced to abandon their responsibility in taking care of their own small family in the name of, or worse, under the guise of public service? As it is, abandonment of your own blood and flesh is the highest and most inexcusable form of inefficiency and irresponsibility.

The subordinates, on the other hand, should always be mindful that they must also take ownership in the responsibility of realizing the highest degree of efficiency and productivity that their leaders impose as a mission for the public good. Indeed, a collective and collaborative approach is a powerful path to success. Undeniably, public servants in PLM are known for a commendable sense of duty and commitment in doing their share in realizing the University's goals and objectives and in maintaining the primacy of PLM's excellence through the years.

As it can be seen, public service is a crucial interplay between and among the public servants and the public that they seek to serve. In achieving this, it goes without saying that a good communication flow is an essential component of a healthy relationship in attaining common goals.

Team Building 3: BALL RELAY

Ball Relay: The act of passing a small ball to your colleague beside you is undeniably a simple and easy one. But as another ball comes in from an opposite direction, a sudden shift is created. The new ball comes with it a jolt of excitement to the players where "mind and body coordination" becomes crucial. When a bigger ball is added, and the pace was increased to a rapid succession, the things as they were have changed a lot; Total awareness and quick response become necessary. Another ball of a bigger size comes, stupefying the players even more. The biggest ball of all was added, in effect heightening the confusion and difficulties of the team players. When they were ordered to clamp their right hand at the back, they were somewhat disabled, leaving the left hand alone to do all the works in a frenzy of endless balls coming their way from both directions. Finally, the bigger ball was instructed to be shot to the player across the circle, leaving the receiver more astonished. Whenever a player misses a ball, he is disqualified and taken away from the team. The decrease among the players results to an increase in the tempo of the balls and in the difficulty of the players who were left behind.

Public service is mirrored in this game where passing one ball on in a single direction is so much like performing one's own function/s, individually or as an office, as defined in the position description. Public servants, in this case, can deliver perfectly and outstandingly well, and exhibit full competence which usually merits accollades like "Job well done!"

It has been a practice in government agencies, though, that an expression of full competence is rather compensated with a "reward of more works" instead of "deserved bonuses" which is what happens in the private industries. An additional ball is likened to an additional work, which is perfectly acceptable to the public servants. Public servants, as they really are, do not rue in accepting additional works, but rather relishes on performing for the best interests of the public.

Countless additional works as represented by more balls, however, will likely divide the attention of or burn out the public servants, which may cause a downsurge in their productivity or efficiency. While focusing on some works to deliver salutary results in those aspects, they may inadvertently neglect the rest of the additional works assigned to them. This unfortunate scenario is symbolized by balls slipping out of hand and subsequently falling to the ground. Utmost leeway, therefore, must be accorded those who are in this situation, if hiring more personnel or unloading the office of extra work become untenable under certain circumstances.

The restrained right arm symbolizes the disabilities that the public servants normally suffer as caused by external factors. Whenever a family member gets sick and the like, he would either become worried (which handicaps him in his performance) or gets absent (which handicaps the office). The restrained arm also depicts the sufferings they endure whenever unfair accusations are heaped against them that plummet down their morale to the lowest level.

This team game provides realization to the public servants on their exposure to many adverse factors and occupational hazards -- to environments that impose a yoke of heavy burden. But at the end of the game, despite the heavy pains and unbearable heartaches, the joy and sense of fulfilment of pursuing what is best for the public through countless sacrifices far outweigh the anguish and tortures of demoralization. That is the PLM spirit!

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