The MSTM2012 cohort wrapped up our studies today. First, we met with SPRING Singapore, which is one of the key government agencies set to inspire growth of enterprises in this nation. From our discussions and their presentation, it is clear that SPRING is a clear reflection of Singapore’s commitment to focus on its advantages and build a strong national capability.
Dr. Kumar Mehta, along with Owen Walsh and Jason Titlow, provided an excellent presentation on GMU’s path to innovation as well as summary of the different techniques and programs in use by our companies to inspire innovation. It was refreshing that a government agency was so focused to use our meeting as an opportunity to learn and investigate ways it may be more productive itself.
The cohort held our debrief Friday afternoon, with a lively exchange that reviewed the positive and negative aspects of the Singapore “corporate city-state.” The current government, which has led the nation since its independence forty years ago, is seeing a rising political opposition. There seems to be an underlying, tacit tension that probably is necessary to keep the government in check.
My own observations include a belief that there is less randomness to the governmental functions than elsewhere, with an aim toward efficiency that Singapore’s citizens and permanent residents like. They are less likely to create complexities that cater to specific special interests that don’t benefit the nation: Taxes are simple and straightforward, for example. Corrections to government issues are swift; for example, the privately-run mass transit system’s president was driven to resign a couple of months ago due to a two-day track disruption. The system is world-class (I used it extensively) and yet the citizens and the government demand efficiency and effectiveness in all operations. I can imagine in the U.S. that the hue and cry would die down quickly once service was restored, but the social media reaction was such that decisive action was taken.
Singaporeans are generally happy and quite engaging, willing to strike up an open conversation. They are very polite and considerate without regard to an individual’s language or heritage.