15 August 2013

Reflections on the "Reflections of Our Singapore Conversation"

Using a reference mindset we can make additional contributions of the "Reflections of Our Singapore Conversation". Firstly, asking the people is only side of the Yin-Yang bipolar thinking. Asking may not you the innovative breakthrough answer. Secondly, by relating to the past, values and strategies revealed in the National Flag and Pledge, we can trace the changes and decide the future. Thirdly, the perspective and the core aspirations wording are vague and  are subjected to misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Better clarity can be obtained by describing the observable behavior, defining the measures and targets to monitor progress and to make changes when needed. By reframing the OSC in a different format, I hope we can discover new jewels and help in the defining and the execution of the Singapore Dream. We may need to have Pledge 2.0 to convert the OSC document into a more inspiring and useful form.
"Reflections of Our Singapore Conversation" (https://www.oursgconversation.sg/) is an important document at least for Singaporeans and residents since it will be a reference document for government policies.  It is also good to know, or to confirm what we already know, about what some Singaporeans think and like. Here are my additional reflections on what else we can learn and do with the document.

Use a Thinking Model or Framework to Guide
I personally think the Ancient Chinese mindset is the one for the VUCAD 21st centuries of connected diversity. See The Essence of Sinology or Chinese Mindset - The Values & Methods for 21st Century.
Of course, I am not stuck to just using the Eastern Mindset of the Chinese, I can do both East & West. So here is the fusion mindset East West Fusion Mindset as a Key and as Simple as ABC.

We can see immediately that the Chinese Sinology mindset is very related to the OSC such as 'A Society based on Values', harmony of diversities, values of love, righteousness, proper rules of conduct. wisdom, trust and boldness. Any leader can build a strong nation on those values and mindset.

Yin-Yang Mindset of Tell & Ask,
Chinese mindset is not about A or B but both and a dynamic balance of A & B depending on the situation. See Yin-Yang Thinking Framework – Innovative and Critical.

OSC is the 'ask' side. Asking and finding out what do the people want, think and feel. It is only one side of the story. "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." was attributed to Henry Ford. Steve Jobs have a much improved version, "It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."

Asking people only gives the answers, usually incremental, based on their perception of the current and short term situations. But we do know that the world is changing fast (VUCADly) and could they have come out with the answers for the near future challenges? OSC Perspective '7 A Singapore with a competent and trustworthy government ....'.  Do we have a leader that can stand above the circumstances, see further, broader and deeper than the people at large and lead the people well to adapt and progress in the future? If not by a person alone, but at least by a gathering of top minds in diverse fields. See The Superior Mindset of A Leader - The 4 Dimensional ...

Going Back to the Past - The Leaders of Nation Building
When our past leaders were building the nation, they did not publicly conduct such OSC.  Based on their experience and study, they had a dream of the kind of nation that they want to build and have the confidence of leading and persuading the people to join them. Their dreams, values and strategies are reflected in the National Flag and also in the National Pledge that came later.

In my days of growing up, it was about building a 'rugged society'. We were told that Singapore has no resources but only human. We are just a small nation. We are poor. But we can become strong and rich if we are rugged and we try together. We should be able to face up and overcome the obstacles and disadvantages confront us. We did build such a nation. Have we gone beyond the need to be rugged? Are the nation building values and strategies still relevant now?

Here is the mind-map of the 12 Perspectives with my additional comments to hope to make them clearer. I also regroup them to show the cause-effect relationships. These bring out the key differences of perspectives ... some are values, some are goals, and some are just strategies.

Let me add in the Flag and the Pledge:
(See also :The Kia-Su Kia-X's Uniquely Singaporeans - Mindset ...)


Here are a few comments we can draw from the above mind-map:

  1. Many of the past values are still applicable. 
    1. The old wording is better than the present one with alot more punch. (May be the younger generation think the wordings are old fashion).  Happiness is clearly better than the passive form of "other definitions for success" (the author may intentionally make it vague to encourage discussion.)
    2. 'A Singapore for Singaporeans - wanting the immigrants to adopt Singapore values' expressed the stronger desire to retain the nation building values.
  2. The addition of the Soft Side of "Love, Care and Respect"
    1. A major contribution from the OSC is this soft side of values. In nation building from a state of poverty, the leaders might just want the people to charge forward and did not want to emphasize the needs to care for those who could not. 

OSC remaps the 12 Perspective into 5 Core Aspirations.
I think it confuses rather than help. Here is a mind-map of the matching.
Are you inspired by the Core Values? Do you know want it means at first reading?

The Right Way to Describe Values
As a consultant in Corporate Performance Management, it is better to cast a nation's future in terms of mission, vision and the key values that enable the people to achieve the visions (over time) of mission (identity and uniqueness) through the strategies to be designed.

Values is best described with observable behavior so that others can see and copy. What does dignity for the aged means? A list of do and don't observable behavior will help clarify. Of course, we need to be careful of that such external acts may not have the true motivation within.

Are we there yet? How do we know?
To have greater clarity and understanding, we need define measure and set targets. By measuring we know our progress or lack of progress. We may need to change our methods so as to achieve our objectives. By having the target sets, we can see that when it is enough to re-channel and re-balance our efforts. If we take the strong view wanting to implement our strategies to achieve the dream we want, we can see that there is still much work that need to be done. But at the very least, we know the next few steps to take.

National Pledge 2.0
To go forward, we need something shorter and more inspiring than the 5 cores aspirations. It is perhaps time to change our National Pledge to incorporate the dreams and values that we want to build. We may need to add in the love side factors to build our nation into a balanced one of meaningful joy with love and wealth.

By reframing the OSC in a different format, I hope we can discover new jewels and help in the defining and the execution of the Singapore Dream.

Lim Liat (c) 15 Aug 2013
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