Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why I am so critical of this government

This presentation by K. Shanmugam at U@Live! at NUS reminded of my younger days at Shell. As a young analyst I had to track every refinery including planned and rumored in the region. Bukom financial prospects depended on it. It was frightening to envision how we might easily lose business but over me were older and wiser heads who would explain to me how and why those threats rarely materialized. There were also positive surprises too but always someone's refinery fire was our money making opportunity. But the bottom line was always this: We were damn lucky.

Today Shanmugam tell a good story that this hard fact of life has not changed. In fact, I think it never will unless you are crazy enough to do what Venice did under its legendary blind Dodge. God forbid.

That's why many of my blog posts are highly critical of the government, holding them to nearly impossible standards. What irony to have a minister throw this back at us. With such harsh realities, we are not rising to the occasion. Our school system is not producing enough people who can do or make things which others cannot. Our managers are not known for organizing us in ways to deliver which others would balk at. Meanwhile in-flight service that others talked about has stopped because others have done or exceeded that in their aircraft cabins. SQ is my canary in the coalmine.

That's why wages are stagnant except for the very top who can do what most others can't. We want more and more of us to have that ability. At the same time cognizant that this is not possible for far too many people we want to elevate our management and leadership capabilities to do as teams what others can only dream about.

Sometimes I feel bad for being so severely critical of this government. K. Shanmugam just legitimized the high standards that I have been insisting. Just over the last few days I have been pressing here how our good government is fighting against great government. We have to stop letting the good be the enemy of the great.

Update: August 3, 7:30pm

Yet another of those stories which I do not need to wait too long for. This is the reason (see below) why Singapore could make a living. Our neighbors habitually shoot their own foot. In a way it is also our bad habit. I do not know we know how to make a living in this neck of the woods if our neighbors get their act together.

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