Picture this. Head office of an MNC in Boston faces issues with silo mentality existing between a few Divisions which actually need to work together. Team-building, team coaching and leadership programs have so far failed to bring about any changes of note. In desperation, the CEO throws up his hands and barks to his HR person “Get me someone from Singapore to sort out this mess!” Or perhaps attempts at automating logistics at the port in Vladivostok have run into severe problems, and the authorities are at their wits’ end. “Vanya!” cries the person-in-charge, “поймите меня кто-то из Сингапура! (Get me someone from Singapore!)”. Or maybe an end-to-end food-production chain in South Africa is getting tired of managing thousands of highly unskilled workers. “Get me some workers from Singapore! We need living, breathing examples of great value, productive industry, daring initiative, unflinching loyalty and consummate creativity!”
Are you nodding your head vigorously in agreement? Or have you fallen off your chair laughing? We’ve always been told that people are our most valuable asset. I disagree. Good people are our most important asset. While our reputation for being industrious was well known in the past, with quotes like “Workers in most fields and at most skill levels are known for their competence and familiarity with the latest technologies. International firms consistently rank Singaporean workers among the highest in the world for industriousness, efficiency and adaptability” (1999), I wonder what people around the world really think of us today. Do we still have this reputation? Or have the fruits of kiasu-ism fully ripened?
A common complaint we hear is that we are rather low in creativity. I don’t mean the Arts. You should take issue whenever anyone says that, because human beings everywhere are designed to be creative. If you are not creative, there are blocks to your expression of that creativity. However, creativity does not exist in a vacuum. It is birthed and nourished alongside diligence or industriousness, responsibility, loyalty, determination, resourcefulness and having an ennobling vision for yourself and those around you. Develop those accompanying competencies and qualities, and you will find that creativity soars.
So, when can we hear the calls from the world over, demanding workers from Singapore? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think!