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From Where We Sit

Plans and execution

Anton Ng

There’s a thin line between moving towards execution of a half threshed-out plan and failing to reasonably account for all the consequences of the plot done in haste.

The line is so thin it could elicit a lot of varying interpretations.

Last Aug. 15, I need to drive for more than 300 kilometers to attend a conference in Northern Luzon.

Unfortunately, that day was also the first day of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA’s) High Occupancy Vehicle Lane (HOV) policy which prohibits single-occupant vehicles to pass through EDSA during rush hour.


I was forced to leave Makati at 5:30 pm with an expected arrival time at my destination before midnight.
Obviously, I can’t take Edsa–the shortest route to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx)–because the HOV policy will take effect by 6 pm.

Even if the MMDA is only implementing a dry run of the new policy (meaning no real penalties yet for the offending drivers), I with great hesitation, got off EDSA and navigated my way to  NLEx through an alternative route.

By doing so, I reached my destination two hours past midnight.


Those who drove through EDSA during the hours when the HOV policy said the traffic condition was really light. At least for EDSA, the objective was achieved. But for those who were restricted from driving through EDSA, the traffic was beyond bad.

I don’t question the solution MMDA used to relieve EDSA of heavy daily traffic. Neither do I challenge their aim to promote carpooling to lessen the volume of vehicles on the road.

But for MMDA to say they don’t encourage people to use non-EDSA routes shows lack of foresight. Their idea of carpooling has its own complications too. The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) requires a franchise before a driver can engage into commercialized carpooling.

In the corporate world, there’s often bias towards execution. People are encouraged to always push for the execution of their plans even if such are not “fully ready” for implementation.

A plan which is fully ready is subject to certain amount of judgment. However, a plan that’s unripe for execution should never be an excuse for delaying it.

Many would say execution is key. Even without a foolproof plan, one should be ready to execute. At the end of the day, no success is achieved through a great plan alone.

A great plan that never sees the light of day will simply be a great plan that would soon be forgotten if not implemented.

I believe we should never wait for a plan to be perfect before execution. Such a plan might not exist. An imperfect plan can be perfected through execution, generating feedback, making iterations on the original plan, and going back to execution.

This bias towards execution, however, shouldn’t be an excuse as well to implement something ill-conceived.
Though execution is key, the plan should at least be good enough to address problems being resolved.

To achieve success, there should be an idea that deserves execution.

I may not agree with MMDA’s solution to the severe traffic congestion in the Metro in the absence of a more robust public transportation system. But I applaud them for at least being courageous enough to put their plans into motion, no matter how raw it might have been or, even for some, no matter how bad the idea is to begin with.

They should also be commended for being open to the idea of revisiting how they intend to push through with the implementation of the HOV policy by agreeing to suspend its full implementation after it received a lot of negative feedback.

That for me, albeit the presence of pressure from the Senate, shows a lot of humility.

The absence of a fail-safe plan shouldn’t stop one from moving to execution. But we should be mindful of ill-conceived plans that require more thinking before they’re done.

Anton Ng is a Partner of the Audit & Assurance of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to or For more information, visit our Website:

As Published in The Manila Times, dated 22 August 2018