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Encourage lower level leaders to take initiative

President Xi Jinping of China said that the cadre members of the Chinese Communist Party wait for written orders before they take action. He encouraged them to use their initiative.

See this report. 

I wish to point out that this problem exists in other countries. When Donald Trump was in charge in America, many of the bureaucrats also waited for instructions.

Even the top scientist, who was perhaps the most highly paid person in America, had to defer to the president on how to manage the pandemic.

The same problem exists in Singapore as well. The top civil servants probably prefer the decision to be taken by the ministers. They will implement the decisions.

I also believe that the same behavior exists in large business organizations. I observed it when I was in charge of a large insurance company.

However, I have found a way to empower the lower level staffs to take the initiative.

This is how it was done.

a) I give general guidelines on how decisions can be taken.
b) I encourage the staff to take their initiative in arriving at their decision.
c) If they are unsure about the decision, they submit a brief online report to explain why they took the decision.

The online report was reviewed by the supervisor. If the supervisor did not object within 24 hours, the staff was absolved from any blame, even if the decision was wrong.

This approach worked well. The staff enjoyed exercising their discretion, and often in finding an answer that was fair to the customer.

I hope that President Xi will adopt this approach.

 

Tan Kin Lian

 

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READER COMMENTS BELOW

14 Responses to “Encourage lower level leaders to take initiative”

  • xoxo:

    I found it frustrating when i filed for claims that were quite straightforward when i was using NTUC INCOME when MR TAN was still THE BOSSMAN?

    So,i really think what you say here n now differs from what was practised then when you were in charge?
    How come?

    But i would say,whatever it is,99 pct of subordinates usually tries NEVER TO GO AGAINST THE BO$$ even when the bosses are wrong!

    In govt,CHECKS N BALANCE IS MUCH NEEDED.
    THE ONLY WAY IS TO HAVE A SOLID OPPOSITION THAT OPPOSE RESPONSIBLY.

    GRC N OTHER BARRIERS HINDER GOOD GOBERNANCE MOSTLY.
    CAN OUR GAG-men say not?
    If so,PLS REMOVE SUCH OBSTACLES SO THAT BETTER SGS CAN HELP BUILD A FAIRER N BETTER SYSTEM FOR THE COMMON GOOD OF ALL SG CITIZENS.

    PS: TAKE THE $100 BILLION RAID ON RESERVES BY HSK.
    HOW CAN NATION-BUILDERS N THE REAL OWNEES(sgs) receive LESS GRANT ($600) THAN MANY FTs/PRs???

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  • oxygen:

    @ Xoxo

    I AM AFRAID and worry if the learned “professor” @TKL was hallucinating in Alice’s Wonderland amusement park when he wrote this SCHOLASTIC piece.

    I doubt he has read or even aware of the book – Organisations in Action – James D Thompson.

    http://amsacta.unibo.it/5737/1/ThompsonAnniversary.pdf

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_D._Thompson

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  • Talk cock lah:

    You wish that guy could approve a claim for $1 million, send an email on Saturday night to his boss, and make the payment to you on Monday morning. Then, some time later, Ah Tan praise that guy for his initiative. Talk cock lah.

    Reminds me of that big time CEO writing books about his ethics and integrity, but pronounced otherwise by a unconvinced judge.

    xoxo: I found it frustrating when i filed for claims that were quite straightforward when i was using NTUC INCOME when MR TAN was still THE BOSSMAN?

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  • PAP failed. AGAIN:

    Straits Times: Vietnamese woman who is first Covid-19 case in KTV cluster entered S’pore in February via familial ties lane

    PAP failed AGAIN at Changi airport. Ong Ye Kung admitted it was aware of the risk from KTV lounges after what happened in Korea and Taiwan. But it appears it did not take sufficient measures to mitigate the risks. Now the KTV cluster has increased to over 90 and still going up.

    The problem with PAP is that it is “reactive” instead of “proactive”. It is an absolute waste of taxpayers’ money to pay PAP office holders “out-of-this-world” (higher than 1st World, the highest on the planet for a country that is the smallest on the planet) salaries.

    Singapore needs REGIME CHANGE. The PAP is a “spent force”. It is time to bury it with LKY so Singapore can be a REAL democracy with openness, transparency, and REAL accountability in the public sector. Singapore can adopt a Singaporeans First policy.

    SINGAPOREANS FIRST. ALWAYS

    Tech: Since Feb, so more than 1/4 year for her to jalan jalan and look see look see, then 100 cases surely is under-quoted liao lor. Must be tons of asymptomatic walking around on the island liao, unless for 1/4 year she did nothing but stayed at home. Scarry!

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  • Ravi Menon talking cock:

    Straits Times: How Singapore can sharpen its innovative edge – Ravi Menon

    Ravi Menon speech is a lot of “fluff’ and “spin”. He should have kept it simple and direct.

    For Singapore to be innovative young Singaporeans should be trained to be creative. This means they should be trained QUESTION EVERYTHING. I do mean EVERYTHING. They should be encouraged to ask tough questions on everything and demand answers – no “sacred cows”, no OB markers, etc. This is what happened in Taiwan and Korea. Now they have global brands. Singapore only has an over-hyped airline and airport. Also Taiwan and Korea did not limit to a small minority the number of local that can attend local universities. Singapore did because LKY had a “pick- the-winner policy. He wanted to limit local graduates because they are a threat to PAP political dominance. Now Singapore needs innovative graduates so it brings in foreign graduates even paying for foreigners to study in local schools instead of investing in Singaporeans, the only real asset of Singapore.

    Singaporeans are Singapore. Period. Sadly, LKY and PAP views Singapore as an island with an economic statistic (GDP) attached to it. Singaporeans are to be used, even “abused” then “discarded” for GDP growth.

    PAP is a “spent force” Singaporeans should bury it with LKY at the next GE. REGIME CHANGE IS NEEDED FOR SINGAPORE TO BE AN “INNOVATIVE” (NOT CONTROLLED) COUNTRY. It is that simple.

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  • 再接再厲:

    假如中國有case斯.

    這裡也有又有何稀奇.

    挫折雖有, 再接再厲.

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    China younger generation 不行 ?
    65 years old beat up a 37 years old.

    https://video.h5.weibo.cn/1034:4659338279845994/4659338356200003

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  • nathan:

    Politics is not for the humble and noble. Political leaders can fake it and other virtuous attributes, but never for long. President Xi Jinping hides his ambition well. Consolidating his power and alienating his political competitors at the same time. His is gunning to be the longest President of China, with the backing of the National People’s Congress behind him to extend the term of his office indefinitely. Won’t be long before Xi rules by edict, like an emperor, if he is not already doing so.

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  • @nathan

    You talk as if China belongs to one man alone, who is the ultimate one calling the shots. It’s not that simple and so very far from the truth. This may be the case in Sinkieland where the LEEder is the only one making the ultimate decision and calling the shots. No doubt there is the party’s Exco in Sinkieland but at the end, it’s still one LEEder calling the shots, the members cry father cry mother also no use.

    However in China, there is actually a group of 7 (including the Chairman who is also the Secretariat) in the country’s Standing Committee of the Political Bureau (Politburo) who makes the ultimate decision for the country. The Chairman is the official face of this group, who collectively make all the important decisions but being Chairman, all the decisions are commonly attributed to him.

    The 6 in the group are collectively as powerful as the Chairman, sort of the board of directors in a company, with the Chairman being the Executive President. Simply put, the Chairman can make all the rules and decisions as much as he wants as long as the 6 others don’t object or make noise.

    Under their system, the Chairman cannot “touch” any of these 6 without the remaining majority agreeing and the Chairman cannot sack any of them legally. The Chairman, however, can technically be removed by the majority in the group. In corporate lingo, the Executive President cannot sack a board member but the board members can sack the President.

    Coming to the ruling by edict, to rule the country as a group and to be ruled by one, is a whole world of difference. You think the 6 in the group and thousands in the Congress will agree? Besides, China is currently doing great under the Chairman, why the need for change when the Chairman already has all the powers he needs?

    Someone posted a very good write-up on this at TRE, I cannot remember the link now but will amend this comment once I can find it.

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  • Fantasy Insiders:

    If that is true, what’s wrong with that?
    LKY did practically the same, and Singaporeans love him very much.

    nathan: President Xi Jinping hides his ambition well. Consolidating his power and alienating his political competitors at the same time. His is gunning to be the longest President of China, with the backing of the National People’s Congress behind him to extend the term of his office indefinitely. Won’t be long before Xi rules by edict, like an emperor, if he is not already doing so.

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  • oxygen:

    @ Fantasy Insiders

    OH, IT IS MASSIVELY WRONG in that because nobody got a monopoly of wisdom nor information as Present Tense told a UK journalist correctly.

    Fantasy Insiders: If that is true, what’s wrong with that?
    LKY did practically the same, and Singaporeans love him very much.

    And Past Tense made BIG MISTAKE in economics – he was warned by Professor Krugman that the old way (urbanisation and infrastructural spending) won’t sustain economic growth BUT HE IGNORED THE LEARNED ECONOMIST ADVICE.

    PAST TENSE WAS IN CABINET AS MINISTER MENTOR in GCT era, he didn’t stopped or checkmate the failed “asset enhancement politics/economics”.

    Wealth cannot be fabricated by bubbles for long. It must be created of production of goods and services. Asset enhancement politics – good for election outcome in 2011 – is just transferring wealth from the poor to the rich which re-circulated the bubbles around waiting for who (to see) carry the dead babies when it (bubble) burst.

    Now CPF is now trapped in wasting liability of public housing wild orgy pricing inflation and false values UNSUSTAINABLE GOING FORWARD.

    REAL WEALTH in CPF is vaporizing to nothing.

    PAPpy one-party dictatorship is a FAILURE and now a burden of our forward economic outlook in this post-pandemic era.

    A lot of pain forward needed in restructuring our economic pillar moving away from failed past assumptions IF WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A CHANCE OF SURVIVAL AS A NATION.

    PAPppolitics/PAPpynomics are lousy

    - asset builders,

    - even worst as asset traders.

    VERY SAD that peasants and dissenters cannot challenge their economic premises or decisions in dictatorial rule.

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  • oxygen:

    @ Xoxo

    MY LAST TOE was giggling uncontrollably when I read the last line of this article read.

    xoxo: I found it frustrating when i filed for claims that were quite straightforward when i was using NTUC INCOME when MR TAN was still THE BOSSMAN?

    FAIRYTALE FANTASY reads

    TKL:I hope that President Xi will adopt this approach

    Not sure if he wants to “advise” XJP how to make life-and-death decisions in China everyday or he imagine he is the hidden boss and XJP is the little unknown inconspicuous somewhere near the bottom of the food chain learning how to organise work/decision making structure at the lowest hierachy level, thus needing fairytale’s imagined SUPERLATIVE/SUPERIOR “expert” coaching and advice.

    This is also a startling display of his windy happy contradiction of favoring ONE-PARTY RULE for China and XJP published in TR E just 3 days ago.

    A one party state is a better form of government

    https://www.tremeritus.net/2021/07/14/a-one-party-state-is-a-better-form-of-government/

    SO IS IT DICTATORIAL RULE AT THE TOP, and laissez-faire of decision and organisational action below XJP level.

    Maybe both fairytales were the work of some hidden “emperor” or 5-yr old or 4-yr old todler.

    I am sure professor James D. Thomson must be laughing inside his grave uncontrollably. He wrote the book – organisations in action where he illuminates different decision-making mode is necessary and appropriate for different organisational/interdependence settings, namely

    - sequential interdependence
    - reciprocal interdependence
    - pooled interdependence.

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  • oxygen:

    GET REAL, mate! Thanks for the entertainment though.

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  • mike:

    Dear @ TKL

    “President XJP”…

    :DDD

    What can i say… i laughed, laughed, and laughed again…

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