Friday, February 15, 2013

PM and Cabinet fruitless balancing acts

I found this one from Susan Long's interview with Lawrence Wong in the ST today.

Not a week passes by without us reading 'balancing act' from a government minister. In fact the PM and his Cabinet thrive on tricky balancing acts.

I have lost my patience with them, and am not so kind any more. I think it is plain stupid. Just use your common sense. You know how almost impossibly difficult it is to manage down the line what that right balance is? You will be spending most of your time communicating and yet missing the balance!

Finally because I am making this post, I bothered to go look for something the good old Joe Pillay said which had impressed me completely many years back. I quote him having found it in AsiaWeek.

In a rare interview, he once explained how he used this approach with his colleagues: "Look," he would tell them, "whenever you embark on anything, please tell me what is your object. And there must be one. I don't want five."

This is a great stress reliever for my children. Whenever they are stressed I also asked them: "what is your one objective?" And things clear up and there is focused action. Imagine me buying into this holistic education nonsense and trying to help them strike a balance? I don't even know enough to do that. We will end up like many kiasu parents striking a balance means going for As in everything. We will produce a people who knows a lot but not sure what they actually know. They never know where and how they are going. If most people we educate here are like that, Singapore is finished as they try to always strike a balance when it is time to change course.

You lose it when you try to strike a balance. You can only do this with yourself. I bet you can't even do that with your spouse.

Therefore striking a balance is a futile and eventually doomed approach to governing Singapore. Expect the PM and his Cabinet to continue performing below expectation as they keep up with striking a balance. Honestly too much energy is wasted finding that balance. Without them knowing, the skill of striking the balance with every member of the team eventually create the dangerous outcome: Group Think. We just saw it when the ministers valiantly but futilely tried to defend the Population White Paper. Very intelligent men and women made stupid whilst trying to strike the right balance.

I thought I have finished but have a final thought: It is impossible to successfully explain to citizens how you strike the balance and why that balance is optimal. A sure vote loser they will discover for those times they could not gain support by producing extraordinary results and had to explain under performance. That time is now.

Update: Feb 17 6pm

Only two days later. No need to wait too long and we have another example of striking a balance! Sure you must strike a balance but you don't begin that way. You start with what is your one single objective. You will be forced to think, read and researched and finally understand deeply in which the right balance is a by product of the one single objective. Officers down the pecking order would also be thus empowered to use their initiative and judgement as a result.

1 comment:


    I echo that - That Time is Now.