Focus on opportunity rather than problem

A management consultant shared this story with me.

It occurred more than ten years ago. He was giving consultancy to a large organization in Singapore The client wanted to introduce a new computer system to improve an important process in the company.

The local manager in charge of this project was afraid of change. He asked for the system to be changed to cater for many possible contingencies that might arise. He said that he was “playing the devils’ advocate” and wanted a system with “zero defects”.

The modified system became very complex, very costly and not user friendly.

Before implementing the new system, the local manager asked -If I introduce this new system, can you guarantee me that I will not face any operational problems.

The consultant said – I can certainly guarantee you that new problems will arise. But when they arise, we can fix them. We are adopting an agile development approach. In fact, it is easier to deal with real problems, rather than imaginary problems.

The local manager rejected the new system. The project was abandoned after a heavy budget and several months of planning effort.

A few years later, the consultant learned that the local manager had lost his job. He was replaced by a “foreign talent”. Why? The top management realized that the process in the company was backward and behind their competitors. They were losing a lot of business, even from established clients.

The displaced manager tried very hard to get a new job for a few years. He was unsuccessful. He blamed the government for allowing “foreign talents” to come and take over his job and for competing for new jobs.

He did not realize that his over-cautious approach towards change was the key problem that led to his displacement. He also did not realize that a new employer would look for experienced managers who focus on opportunities, rather than problems.

Does this story sound familiar? It was told to me by a management consultant that I have high respect for.

 

Tan Kin Lian

 

 

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26 Responses to “Focus on opportunity rather than problem”

  • Traitor:

    Traitor with treacherous story.

    KNN, why can’t this local be replaced by another local? You saying all locals are lousy? Bloody trait**.

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  • TUMASIK Patriot:

    Tan ahhhhh…a CONditioned mind and Kia Su attitude Brainwashed into sheeple’s mind is the cause lah!!!

    Founding or Pioneer Generation are different lah!!!…”Pah Si Boh Chow” “Do or Die” and that is why we succeed leh!!!

    Today is “Kia Si Kia Bor Kia Cheng Hu lor!!!” scared to change or take challenges

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  • xoxo:

    So,can you ask your tuakong management consultant fren WHY WITH FOREIGN TALENTS ,OUR NATIONL PRODUCTIVITY GONE DOWN eversince FTs have been replacing sgs 2 decades ago???

    Blame the COMPUTERS OR WHAT?

    YOUR FREN IS A BOOTLICKING IDIOT N THATS HOW HE KEEPS HIS JOB!!!

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  • Harder Truths:

    TKL – you have never worked in the real world. If I am not mistaken the ‘management consultant’ is an FT, as they all are. Justifying hiring FT by a grandmother’s story is a pappy trick – who is writing your material?

    Every FT I have met was not as smart hardworking or honest as a local. The only reasons they get hired is the love of the government for FT, their cunning to hide problems until they leave, and their low salaries – which they will eventually overcome with trickery, deception and backstabbing.

    A large proportion of the $G civil service are FT – this allows the government to do as they please as a real $G local will sound the alarm over corruption and bad policies.

    Keep writing your pappy-grovelling drivel – it cures constipation.

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  • Reality:

    With this pandemic,we need real talent to steer our companies through very difficult time.Or many will not survive and cause more job losses.
    Does not matter Singaporean or FT.Only real talent.

    For ordinary job,better to use more local than FT to help the local jobless.
    Only right thing to do.Singaporean First.

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  • Mindset:

    Mindset of our local Management need to change.
    Need to embrace change for improvement and be competitive or change will force them to be irrelevant…bringing the company down and affecting others.
    Have seen how old management resist digitizing to improve operation in many companies before…because of their fear and lack of knowledge.

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  • PAP CLOSE DOWN:

    Sounds so damn familiar. So many job interviews but locals don’t want to hire locals but hire relectantly. This was before the FT influx.

    Once they’ve hired a local, he/she is always not good enough, not quick enough, not nimble enough, no dexterity, not hardworking enough. Worse some companies don’t train but expect people to hit the ground running. That management has no respect but rather contempt for employees. That’s why people alway job hop. A congenial and non toxic office is what employees are looking for.

    Certain places can’t even seperate what’s professional and personal. Make personal attacks on employees over work related matters.

    All these management people SUCK and THEY DON”T EVEN REALISE what SHIT THEY ARE.

    I am so tired of hearing it’s ALWAYS the local employees’ fault. Maybe companies and management can do some belated soul searching?

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  • Mephisto:

    Mr. Tan. This reflects my experience too. As a local Singaporean, I despair sometimes at the mindset of many Singaporeans. This story is repeated over and over. Many local mid-level managers are roadblocks. As you rightly put it, they are bothered by problems rather than excited by opportunities. The foreigner has very little to lose so he takes greater risks for greater rewards. They, the foreigners, are not smarter, nor did they a better education. They seem to understand the risk/reward profile a lot better. Their home countries are less ordered so they learn to be resourceful and flexible in daily life. The typical attitudes of Singaporeans has a lot to do with the nature of our society and the heavy hand of the government in our developing years. But we cannot keep blaming the government. How do we bring up our kids ? They are listening to us and watching us everyday. The government and the civil service will always be kiasu. But that does not mean we have to be. I am more hopeful with younger Singaporeans. I hope they are not infected with their parents insecurities. young voters in Sengkang decided there had to be a better way. Good for them. But they must learn to stay the course and resist the unfair responses that are sure to come. They voted not for individuals but for what they represent. A fairer more equitable and just society.

    As for the displaced local manager. Could it be he couldn’t get another job because his attitude came out clearly 8n interviews ?

    As for the government, I would hate to be cynical but is it possible they also despair of the DNA of locals and are hoping to dilute us with foreigners so that a more risk taking culture takes root? The PAP are largely responsible for this state of affairs, which they cannot correct, so as usual they go for quick fixes and then blame the people. There is systematic problem in Singapore and the government and entrenched interests (read “natural aristocracy”) are part of the problem. All is not lost. People think that Tharman is popular because he is a decent person. He is that, but more so, he always has a fresh view and is not over dogmatic. So people do recognise what we need. But we have to change ourselves not just look to someone to save us.

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  • Uselesstankl:

    hahaha, tan ah, you and your high ranking friend sama sama,,,

    ” NTUC SCREWED OUR MEDISAVE UNDER YOU…”

    your friend screwed his company….

    Both of you are in DUNG pasture….now

    Soon all SG will also be there,

    UNDER PAP……

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  • oxygen:

    PAPpypolitics/PAPpynomics is exactly like what TanKL described – always longing for (political) stability status quo and (safety) in the GRC bunkers until the 2020 election tsunami swept in and those who survived (especially those shaken up in East Coast and West Coast GRC flooding) now frantically clutching at the straws & swimming for their lives.

    One monumental failure of pandemic handling EVEN FOUND SHELTER in her old familiar bunker AFTER declaring “I am not that important”.

    HILARIOUS – Ha Ha Ha

    The disintegration and end of the PAPpypolitics legacy dream of wonderland fantasy.

    THE EMPEROR’S THRONE IS ALWAYS ROTATIONAL – 2020 GE is the beginning of the end of PAPpypolitics era.

    The change starts from a ripple of one SMC to a tidal wave of 1 GRC, now evolving into an opportunity opening of having overrun two GRCs fortified bunkers awaiting the tsunami of more to come in 2024/2025 GE to sweep out the last remnants of monumental way-overpriced failures.

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  • Tock Kock Lah:

    This story definitely originated from Tock Kock Lah aka TKL under the guise of a fraternal ConSultan. Need say more?

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    By the way, what happened to all those automated vehicles system(Without drivers needed like buses or taxis). Till now, probably tons of billions of public resources have been spend on it already. Yet, such automated buses or taxis system is now where in sight? All those tons of public funds no need to account for? Is, that correct?

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  • S100m per annum wage:

    if only this FIXING of OPPO mentality goes away.

    then everyone can focus on doing things right.

    until the education system changes from fixing of OPPO, nothing right can happen.

    see how any MNC in Singapore wants to get rid of local born sheep first, for example ESA in Singapore firing mostly sheep than alien pinoys in its employ.

    because local sheep has the cotton producing fixing mentality.

    if we are hiring today, we hire the ceca or pinoy first. because very cheap and most important of all untainted by the FIXING of OPPO mindset.

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  • Democratic=free to do anything:

    Dear TKL,
    Well said. Singaporeans have zero talent and merely bunch of10 years series template trained.

    Singaporeans local institution (from Pri to NUS/) educated can never think out of the box, be innovative and creative..

    We need to import more foreign talent such as Ramesh Uptron ACL graduate to replace lazy and unmotivated Singaporeans.

    Remesh Uptron ACL is more creative and innovative than so called ten years series template trained Singaporeans.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.Again
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Lazy Singaporeans mustbe Cheaper, Better, Faster

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  • Taleban:

    Tan K L, are you talking about yourself?

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  • Kiasi Kiasu Kanasai:

    Resting on his laurels his pocket stuffed with undeserved bank notes… Cronycrats comfy zone

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  • Why Must FT ?:

    You mean the company cannot find another Singaporean to do the job ?

    Why must always screw your own country men ? KNNBCCB

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  • Dun Bluff Mi U Tink I 2pid?:

    This Sinkie depicted in the story is like a frog.

    Want stability, reluctant to change, himself not affected, continue voting for PAPpies… Just like a frog in boiling water..

    When finally replaced by a so-called “Foreign Talent”, cry father cry mother, it is too late, the frog is already cooked..

    If you won’t be affected, think of your children, grandchildren, etc.. Do you want them to suffer? How can they compete in this uneven playing field?

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  • Steven:

    When someone shares a story that fits conveniently with the prevailing narrative ie we need foreign talents (as claimed by Kee Chiu), you can take the story with a heavy dose of scepticism.

    I can also think up a story to counter TKL’s story.

    All I need to do is to substitute the local manager to an expat who was trying to “cover” all the bases so that he can show the boss he had thought of every possible problematic scenario to justify his employment, and the story goes on…

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  • Mindset:

    One mindset that our Civil servants need to change is they are too rigid.
    Many times you hear excuses that nothing can be done because the rule are set by Policy maker and not them.
    Actually they know that policy can never cover all cases and it is their job to raise up exception and make correct judgement for the Citizen but is never done .This is even at high level position.
    No sense of responsibility to do the right thing.Sad but true.

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  • Another traitor:

    Don’t call yourself a local Singaporean when you look down on the DNA of locals.

    Bloody trait**!

    Mephisto:
    Mr. Tan. This reflects my experience too. As a local Singaporean, I despair sometimes at the mindset of many Singaporeans. This story is repeated over and over. Many local mid-level managers are roadblocks. As you rightly put it, they are bothered by problems rather than excited by opportunities. The foreigner has very little to lose so he takes greater risks for greater rewards. They, the foreigners, are not smarter, nor did they a better education. They seem to understand the risk/reward profile a lot better. Their home countries are less ordered so they learn to be resourceful and flexible in daily life. The typical attitudes of Singaporeans has a lot to do with the nature of our society and the heavy hand of the government in our developing years. But we cannot keep blaming the government. How do we bring up our kids ? They are listening to us and watching us everyday. The government and the civil service will always be kiasu. But that does not mean we have to be. I am more hopeful with younger Singaporeans. I hope they are not infected with their parents insecurities. young voters in Sengkang decided there had to be a better way. Good for them. But they must learn to stay the course and resist the unfair responses that are sure to come. They voted not for individuals but for what they represent. A fairer more equitable and just society.

    As for the displaced local manager. Could it be he couldn’t get another job because his attitude came out clearly 8n interviews ?

    As for the government, I would hate to be cynical but is it possible they also despair of the DNA of locals and are hoping to dilute us with foreigners so that a more risk taking culture takes root? The PAP are largely responsible for this state of affairs, which they cannot correct, so as usual they go for quick fixes and then blame the people. There is systematic problem in Singapore and the government and entrenched interests (read “natural aristocracy”) are part of the problem. All is not lost. People think that Tharman is popular because he is a decent person. He is that, but more so, he always has a fresh view and is not over dogmatic. So people do recognise what we need. But we have to change ourselves not just look to someone to save us.

    GD Star Rating
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  • PAP.GUARANTEE.FLOP.NEXTGE:

    Actuslly, last time there was a briefing for the fresh recruits of civil service.

    One big mouth NUS grad asked rather aggressively if SIM degrees are accepted for emploment by the civil service. The presider kept quiet but his facial expression was rather negative.

    So why allow foreign degrees to be taught here if the govt don’t recognise? Why give impression these are legit? If you ask the govt which degrees are recognised they always give non committal vague replies.

    So sometimes I am unable to feel any sympathy for those type of NUS grads and PAP who get voted out.

    But now they are singing FT praises becoss they have a Memorandum of understading with India to fulfil. Worse is that these people buy into the lie that they are talents.

    Anyway you are just one of those who bray like a donkey when the establishment says something, go where they go. You are not your own person.

    Democratic=free to do anything:
    Dear TKL,
    Well said. Singaporeans have zero talent and merely bunch of10 years series template trained.

    Singaporeans local institution (from Pri to NUS/) educated can never think out of the box, be innovative and creative..

    We need to import more foreign talent such as Ramesh Uptron ACL graduate to replace lazy and unmotivated Singaporeans.

    Remesh Uptron ACL is more creative and innovative than so called ten years series template trained Singaporeans.

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.Again
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Lazy Singaporeans mustbe Cheaper, Better, Faster

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  • blueview:

    Tan Kin Lian – you FT loving id*ot, read my comment please!

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  • blueview:

    I’ll tell you why the FT bulldoze through the new system because of the following reasons and it’s all about the safety nets available for the FT vs local:
    FTs in general have these:
    1. SG is not their country. They are here to do the job and if they get into BIG trouble or lose their jobs, they just go back to their home countries and find a job there or for the Indian FTs some are here in SG on a 5-year unpaid leave from their companies or govt bodies back home. So, just do it, save all that money pouring in!!! Oh, they get to brag about their experience working in SG and get an alleviated social status in their home countries even for the Ang Mos. I know of so many people like that. They brag about SG work experiences. Whereas for locals, majority of them only have this tiny red dot for seeking another job and without a strong good reference, your career is gone and finished. So locals take the safer path in their decision making at work and in what they do. Mr. Tan do you see the point here?

    2. FTs have good life support system back home – family, freehold properties, inheritance, their countries’ govt pension, old age benefits, tons of money in their bank account. So they have nothing to lose but everything to gain by bulldozing a new system to meet their bosses needs. Whereas majority of locals stay in HDB that will turn ZERO! Our G*v* deliberately wants locals to be kept “poor” without substantial assets or wealth so that locals will always be in a survival mode with an unconscious fear always lurking in our subconscious. So naturally locals will be more cautious in decision making at work and in what they do. Mr. Tan can you see the point here?

    3. FTs have FULL backing from their employers, they are given utmost assurances, protection, big money and blessings so much so that these FTs can eliminate all fears and just go ahead and implement whatever the company wants and please their bosses. FTs are given the assurance that if there are huge complaints from locals, the company will close both eyes and defend the FT and their actions. This assurance is sealed in stone for all FTs. Whereas for locals, the company will turn around and fire the local because “Oh, too many complains about this new system so you have to go”. Mr. Tan, think about SingPost and the CEO – there were so many complaints but the so called consultant who became the CEO of SingPost kept his wonderful big fat paycheck, right? If it was a local, what will happen to him or her?

    4. FTs have kakis that can pass on lobangs to get another job in SG. Whereas for locals they are doomed if they screw up.

    In order to improve the boldness of all Singaporeans, bring back the Unions per industry and then we can see what Singaporeans are made of. Also don’t look down upon locals. Until then, Mr. Tan just zip your stupid as***ho*e mouth! Don’t be so stupid and blindly believe GREAT FT Consultants. Ask him about the above items and you’ll see my point.

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  • Mephisto:

    Another trait**:
    Don’t call yourself a local Singaporean when you look down on the DNA of locals.

    Bloody trait**!

    Even Singaporeans acknowledge they are kiasu. It’s so embedded in our culture for so long, it is as good as in our DNA.

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  • Help yourselves:

    We must learn to help ourselves…not to be dependent on others.
    Very important skill set in the new economy.
    Government should give grant to jobless Singaporean to start companies if they have a workable plan eg $150K for 5 of them band together ie $30K per person.1st portion of grant of $75K and Review at 6 months..if not much progress,grant to stop .
    Better than send them to useless course and no decent job at the end.
    People tend to put in much more effort if they have ownership.
    Also Singaporean are too kiasee to start anything ,especially if they are out of job.
    Need to give them some encouragement to start…
    Will create more jobs and promote entrepreneurship for Singaporean…

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