The past month or so has been exhausting though thrilling for me, with the demands at work climbing to a feverish high and at the same time breaking new ground. I have seen many things happen which I would never have thought possible before, and I can sense that the entire public service is moving into a brand new direction that is more bold (perhaps) than anything it has ventured before.
All I can say at this moment is that we are now looking at giving voices, personalities, and empowerment to the tens of thousands of faceless civil servants who have been working hard behind the scenes to keep the Singapore machinery well-oiled and efficient. It will also be exploring a radical paradigm shift in the whole business of public communication.
I don’t know if you have read the book Cluetrain Manifesto by Doc Searls and a couple of other chaps. The idea behind it is that people are talking – in coffeeshops, in taxis, in bedrooms, in offices and everywhere else – and how crucially important it is for corporations (and I would add public sector organisations) to be plugged into the conversation. In other words, we need to play the same game, by their rules (and not ours), in order to truly understand what’s happening out there.
There is another concept which I am sure most of you are familiar with – Buzz Marketing – which is first popularised by the book Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The idea behind that is to look at how you can make all your customers – or in this case employees – advocates for your business. There will certainly be some who are connectors, ie the social butterflies who have wide networks of contacts and act as the hubs of human networks. There will be some who are mavens, ie the gurus and knowledgeable people who are trusted points of reference. There will also be salesmen, who are known for their charisma, negotiation power and ability to convince.
In a way, it is a kind of social entrepreneurialism in the public service. Whereas in the past, control has been held tightly at the core, the powers that be now recognise that there is a need to relinquish part of that. This may encourage more spontaneity, more activism, and more enthusiasm amongst public servants who want to make a difference and speak out for what they believe in. Every public employee can then be an entrepreneur, voicing out his or her views, championing a cause and a belief backed by his or her parent organisation, and spreading the word to his or her network of contacts.
What are your views of such an idea? Will it work? Where would be the loopholes?
“One misty moisty morning….Cloudy was the weather…”
That age-old children’s rhyme rang through my head this morning as the weather turned nice, cool and breezy – maybe even a little chilly for some. Somehow the grey and drizzly view from my window prompted me to put pen to paper – or rather fingers to keyboard – and jot down some random thoughts at the break of dawn.
Somehow, this morning felt a little different from usual. Perhaps in my heart, I felt that I should not continue to procrastinate the need to write and be published – anywhere on any subject matter. Already done my usual run last evening, which I felt pretty pleased about having covered a longer distance than usual with a faster pace.
Popped into my son’s bedroom, where he just very recently relocated to after 30 months in ours, and checked that his fever was still held in check. My wife had done the 1 am shift, you know, paracetamol, sponging, water, and was exhausted by the effort.
Let’s see what topics would be best. Maybe on various strategies in marketing? Tips on copywriting? Advertising advice? Yes, those would probably be areas that would be more realistic to begin.
I guess I needed to write about this sooner or later.
Yes, I have discovered a new “drug” which keeps me high, happy and healthy. What is it you may ask? Well, it is running.
My passion for running didn’t exactly start in the last 4 months, although it was only then that I started doing it very regularly. Like at least 4 or 5 times a week or even more. It first started when I was serving my NS, near the time when I was about to ROD (now ORD) and hanging around the bunk feeling bored. A couple of my platoon mates were “siao on” and started to run around the camp. I joined them on some of these and discovered that hey it was quite fun actually. That was about 16 years ago.
Attended a talk at SMU recently by a visiting Professor Thomas S Robertson, who is some fancy professor at Emory University.
Couple of interesting ideas about one of the most widely used marketing theories known as the Diffusion of Innovation. The premise behind Prof Robertson’s talk was that Innovation must take off rapidly in order to succeed.
Essentially, in the continuum of innovation, there are 3 categories of innovators:
Went to the topping off ceremony of the new National Museum of Singapore. With a unique architecture combining neo-palladial elements with modern elements, contemporary lifestyle galleries, fancy 250-seater theatre and sprawling exhibition spaces, this newest jewel in our cultural crown is destined to shine.
When the National Museum re-opens in December 2006, it will be the largest and most spectacular museum that Singapore has ever seen. Innovative first-of-its-kind display technologies, immersive galleries, creative programming and a host of swanky restaurants, cafes and retail outlet completes the entire experience. Check it out here!
I am certainly looking forward to this newest addition to Singapore’s family of over 30 museums!
We finally succumbed to the pressures of hiring a domestic maid. After numerous sleepless nights, unearthly morning calls, infinite changing of diapers, laundry washes ed infinitum, my wife and I decided that we need help to being our lives back to some semblance of order. While we do enjoy spending time taking care of our cute little 22 month old boy, the sheer toll of having to juggle hectic careers, studies (for my wife), housework and a hyperactive toddler crumbled our fortitude.
After deciding on a maid agency, we set out last Saturday together with my sister-in-law (for her impeccably good advice, sharp eagle-eye, and experience in maid hiring). At the training centre, located within a neighbourhood shopping centre, we saw about 20 odd “trainee” maids undergoing training. They were taught how to clean the fans, polish the latrines, mop the floors, iron the clothes and so on.
Throughout the process, it slowly dawned on me how tough their lives were (and how fortunate we Singaporeans have it). The lot of a maid is not a bed of roses. First, they have to leave their families and homes for years at a time. Then, they have to put up a large amount of money to the maid agency, which means that they have to work – without pay – for up to 8 months during the initial period. Many maids are also not given day offs, except those from the Philippines, and they have to be at the beck and call of their employer – literally – 24 by 7.
I muttered silently to myself that we must endeavour to be good employers and fellow human beings when managing our maid. LIke us, they are also mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. They also have their dreams, their aspirations, their wants, needs and desires. Just as we need to take a break to rest our minds, bodies and spirits from the stresses of modern life, so too do our maids.
After listening to the recommendations of the consultant at the agency, we finally decided on a maid. Her name is Wati and she is a 23 year old Indonesian lady who was recently divorced and has a 3 year old daughter. Wati will join us in mid October. Let’s hope that our decision – and hers – will be a win-win arrangement for everybody.
Ok, what happened was that my wife and I decided to stop giving our son medicine.
Well, this isn’t as bad as it sounds like. He had a continuous bout of cough, flu, fever, and so on for the past couple of weeks and this led to many sleepless nights for both him and us. After bringing him to the doctor and giving him medicine for several weeks, we noticed that it somehow hadn’t quite cured his early morning (like 3 am) coughing sessions.
The routine goes like this…
The runnies hit me again this morning. Hard. After sending my wife off to work at Depot Road, my entire gastro-intestinal system seem to be doing the twist, rock-and-roll, lambada and macarena – all at the same time. Crouching over in pain while trying to drive to the nearest loo, I spotted this canteen at the Industrial Park at Depot Road (Block 18) and decided to try my luck there.
After parking my car and straggling my way to the toilet, I discovered that both the cubicles were used. While trying to push open one of the doors which has no indication of whether it was locked or vacant, I was rudely answered by a strong push back which slammed the door. I then went outside, SMS-ing away to my wife to distract myself, while pacing nervously up and down like a father of the newborn.
When one of the users completed his business and flushed the toilet, I quickly squirreled into the cubicle. The first thing that hit me is that the toilet has no lock. No wonder it could be pushed open (and the need for the occupant to guard his privacy fiercely)! Turning around, I noticed that the toilet bowl has no seat. Great. You probably can guess the rest – no toilet paper, no hook (for pants), and a wet floor strewn with cigarette butts.
After hurriedly doing my B52 mission, I flushed the toilet (Thank God it works!), washed my hands and walked out briskly. As if to bade me farewell, a cockroach scuttled across my path. Thinking aloud, it probably is more comfortable at the loo than I was.
Maybe I should nominate the toilet for Singapore’s worst toilet award?
A slight rain helped to make the morning comfortably cool and nice. This, coupled with adequate rest and sleep the night before, made the journey to work much more pleasant and enjoyable. It is surprising how the weather can dramatically influence one’s mood and set the tempo for the day.
One of the chief reasons why I always try to holiday in a temperate destination as opposed to a tropical paradise is the weather. In hot and humid Singapore, you can’t quite get respite from the sweltering heat, despite the air conditioned office and home. Somehow, when you step out, the heat wave hits you like a tonne of bricks. Either that, or it showers so hard that you can’t walk anywhere without getting your shoes/ pants/ shirt wet, even with an umbrella over your head!
I remember with much gusto my recent holiday in Perth (yes, the oh so famous nirvana of Singaporeans in the Southern Hemisphere!). Amidst the cool and bracing air, miles and miles of picturesque greenery, tall calming trees, and balmy breezes, one’s stresses and troubles tend to just melt away. I suppose the more relaxed pace of life there also affects one’s mood, beyond the heavenly climate which makes it possible to embark on never tiring bush walks and expeditions.
I had a bout of gastric flu which started yesterday night. This ended up with having a sleepless night tossing and turning. My toddler-son Ethan was also sick with fever and poor wifey had to take care of him and give him paracetamol while trying to get some rest last night.
This morning, brought my son to see our regular doctor at Killiney Family and Wellness Clinic. Its quite amazing that despite having a fever, he is still so alert, chatty and cheeky, talking to everyone from the receptionist to the doctor at the clinic. Dr Yeo prescribed a series of medicines for both father and son. Thankfully, my mum agreed to take care of Ethan for the day so I was able to go back home for some much needed shut eye.
While being on MC isn’t exactly a joy, it isn’t such a bad thing either. Somehow, it forces you to slow down and take things easy. There are the simple things in life which you sometimes forget in the mad, hectic rat race of work, life and everything in between. By taking a break from work, you actually allow your mind, body and soul to rest, recuperate and recharge for the battles ahead. I think our bodies are also telling us that hey, we are working them far too hard and they need their ‘downtime’ too.
Anyway, tomorrow I will be back at work and slaving away in the daily grind. Sigh….