Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Why does Sportsmanship not apply to sports fans?

I find it rather amusing and ironic that in sports there is little spirit of sportsmanship amongst fans. It is not ok to disrespect or insult another's race, religion, nationality etc, but it is perfectly fine to insult & abuse opposing team, players and fans in sports.

What are we teaching our young through such behaviours in sports?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Consider a more centralised approach to manage Pre-school educators

IT IS heartening to know that some pre-school educators are being rewarded with better pay and career progression.

Despite the importance of the work they do in caring for and nurturing young children, the pre-school sector and educators have not been accorded the professional rigour and due recognition and opportunities.
The recent initiatives and emphasis on the sector are steps in the right direction.

However, one of the problems with the plan to increase the number of pre-schools and educators is the retention of educators by the individual operators. High turnover is not uncommon, with educators moving from one pre-school operator to another for slightly better pay and benefits. As a result, operators are competing with one another for educators. Such frequent turnover of educators does not only affect the operations of the centres but also the education of young children.

A better approach to the recruitment, selection, training and career management of pre-school educators could be to adopt a more centralised model. Pre-school educators could possibly be recruited and trained centrally, and then deployed to different operators as part of their career development. Such an approach would ensure the quality of educators and also better career management and development. This could either be spearheaded by the Early Childhood Development Agency, or the anchor pre-school operators coming together to adopt such a collaborative model. In the long run, this could be a more sustainable and beneficial approach for the pre-school sector and the children.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Abraham Wald

This is really cool. Recently learnt about this guy Abraham Wald. Have we been too quick to jump into solutions and conclusions? Are we really addressing the right and root issue?


Thursday, July 10, 2014

About Leadership

Not sure how many of you came across the below recent article in The Straits Times on 2 July 2014. What are your thoughts? Is this the kind of leadership you admire and aspire towards? How do one become a good effective leader? What is key in leadership?

SAF chief goes out of his way to know 'way of life'
He lugs combat gear and goes on 32km route march with fellow soldiers
Chief of Defence Force Ng Chee Meng (right) getting out of the water during the river crossing for the Combat Skills Badge course. -- PHOTOS: MINDEF
Recently I have been reflecting about leadership and my personal experience over the years. Not sure if you realised, but there are so much talk about leadership, so many different leadership experts and trainers, so many different types of leadership theories, books, literature and models. So what works best? As in any matter that deals with people, there is no magic pill and one size fits all approach.  So how does one discern and decide what are the essential elements of good leadership? How does one start to learn and be a leader? Can leaders be trained and leadership skills be taught?

Regardless of which school of thought and leadership model one prefer and chooses to adapt, I would like to make 3 points about leadership:
·         Leadership starts with self, we need to be able to lead ourselves first.
·        Leadership cannot be taught, but can be learnt.
·         Leadership needs to be motivated by, and built upon good values.

Leadership starts with self, lead ourselves first
First of all, I believe that effective leaders need to know the purpose of why they lead, where they are going and what they intend to achieve. If we ourselves do not know where we are going and why, how is it possible to inspire and lead others? Thus, one cannot expect to lead others if he is unable to first lead himself. Leaders also need to walk the talk and lead by example. Leaders should not ask and expect people to do things that they themselves would not, or are unwilling to do. There is no credibility and integrity if leaders do not lead by example.

Self awareness is also important, knowing and having a good understanding of our own personality, character, strengths and our limitations. If we do not have good self awareness and do not know ourselves well, how is it possible to know, understand and empathise others?

Leadership cannot be taught but can be learnt
There are lots of leadership courses and training out there, many are focused on clarifying the purpose of leadership,  increasing self awareness and on the various leadership approaches and tools. But can leadership skills be taught in the classroom via lessons?

It is my opinion that leadership cannot be taught in the classroom. One does not become a leader after going through a training or taking a course. Leadership contexts, situations, circumstances and ways of dealing with people are too complex to be taught and learnt in a classroom.  If one thinks that he can become a leader just by completing a leadership course or training, he is grossly mistaken.

However, leadership can be learnt through a process of actual real life application, experience, observing and continuous learning from other leaders; constantly trying, reflecting, improving and refining our leadership skills through actual doing and practice, even making mistakes.

Leadership has to be built on good strong values
It is also important to know what motivates our leadership purpose and what is the foundation upon we build our leadership. Besides the need to be purposeful and visionary, as leaders, it is extremely important that we build our leadership on a firm and secure foundation. Are we motivated by power, our personal agenda, ambition or our ego? Are we only interested in achievements, or greed for personal rewards and honour? I believe that good authentic leadership needs to be based on strong positive values to keep us on the straight narrow path. It is always easier to go with the tide, the majority opinion and societal norms. It is sometimes much convenient to choose the easier wrong than to do the harder right. Borrowing a payer/ quote from the US Military Academy:

There are more than enough examples of great leaders who themselves went astray or led nations/ organisations to destruction (think the global financial crisis, organisation collapses, scandals and wars). There is no use learning and talking about leadership if leadership is not built on a solid and  the right foundation. There is where our values are important to make us do the right things. So what are our values? Do we know what we stand for? Something to ponder upon.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Upload videos of Parliament sittings

I noticed that currently there are no telecast of parliamentary sessions, nor videos of proceedings available on the Parliament of Singapore website, or on any public domain. 

Not many people have the benefit to be able to physically attend Parliament sittings. To encourage greater interest and appreciation of national issues, and for better communication and engagement of citizens, it would be good if videos of parliament sittings could be made available to the public. The UK Parliament for example upload their parliament proceedings on their website and YouTube.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Government Must Retain Public Trust and Govern Well: DPM Tharman

My comment on the topic.


I think one of the challenges for AO, top civil servants and high fliers is that as part of their career development they move from agencies to agencies sometimes too fast and too frequent. It is not unexpected that with each posting they feel the need to prove themselves, and the best way is to do something different, initiate new things and projects. However with their quick and frequent posting, the potential issue is that they will not be around to deal with the full implementation or sometimes the outcome. Sometimes, when another person takes over he/she feel the need to do something different again, or may have a vastly different idea and focus. As a result, the emphasis and approach of the agency could then change course. There is also possibly less impetus to ensure that whatever things they initiate and do can stand the test of time and is sustainable after they have moved on.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Central Idea of the Book
In the book, Simon the author shared his discovery of how great leaders and organisations communicate differently, and the key according to him, is that great leaders and organisations are crystal clear about the "why", the purpose and motivation of the things they do. They are also able to then communicate and inspire like minded people to share their cause, be loyal and willingly follow them. 
Simon observed that many organisations and people are able to identify and explain how and what they do, and they often focus more on the hows (systems and processes) and whats (products and services) as these are often easier to articulate; but few are able to articulate their why, their purpose and cause, but it is the why that would inspire others to follow or take action. The why that Simon refers to are questions such as: What’s our purpose? What’s our cause? What’s our belief? Why does our organisation exist? Why do we get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?  
Thus, the key to all inspired leaders and organisations is to think, act and communicate starting from why, starting from the “inside out” of what he called the Golden Circle, rather than the other way round. According to Simon, communicating with why is more effective as it also corresponds to how our brain functions.
Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle
Thobjective is to sell to people who believe what we believe. People follow inspired leaders and organisations not because we have to follow them, but because we want to follow them.
If you are interested to listen to the TED Talk by the author on the topic, visit:

My Personal Reflection
I personally agree that as in all things in our lives, be it at work or our personal life, it is always important to be clear and be constantly reminded of our purpose, and in this case the why. Being clear about our purpose keeps us centered and helps us make decisions at work and in our personal lives; simply by asking if what we are doing or intending to do in line and contributing to my purpose and belief?

However, the reality is that we often lose sight of our purpose (if we have one in the first place) , especially in this busy society that is filled with various demands and temptations. It is also true, at least for me that we often attend courses and read books, be inspired and motivated for a day or two, but we fail to follow up and put the concepts into action and practice. Thus very soon, whatever that we have learned is quickly forgotten, and overtaken by our usual daily old habits and routine.

Thus, in order to attempt to put what I have read into action, I have decided to first share this with 
my colleagues, to think about the why, the purpose and motivation of their work, and to put them down in writing. 

This is so that all of us will start to examine why we are doing what we are doing, and then to 
regularly remind one another of the purpose of our existence and work in the organisation.