Incorporated

Hi, it’s me, the one with the bad English, narrow mind and no brains.

I was reading some stuff, nothing much in particular, including some blogs, reviews, Catherine Lim, Straits Times, etc. I realised that the GRC system quite possibly contributed to the weak national identity that we have here in Singapore. Look at it this way, the redrawing of electoral boundaries every 5 years is akin to changing schools or family regularly. When you have just formed an identity, or even before you have formed one, you are broken up and reshuffled. Hence you won’t feel a lasting belonging to any particular group. Not to the estate, not to the MP, not to the neighbours.
On the other level, the country is run like a corporation. Singapore Inc, as some call it. While it works well and good at achieving economic progress, being a corporate entity means that ’employees’ have a smaller vested stake, less sense of belonging, are free to come and go, zero ownership… Good if you want to hire mercenaries who do not question your morals or purpose. Good for quick turnover, rapid growth, easy governance, no emotional baggage. Good if you want to be distinct about your mission and vision and shareholder equity. Bad if you want to build a family, a team, if you want to inculcate a sense of belonging, a diaspora with rooted hearts. Bad if you want to be loved and trusted.

You need, to have people feel like they own this idea, this project, this process, that it is their own, that they have contributed ideas to it, that they need to be responsible for it. Such that you get them to believe it is their country, their neighborhood, their home, their culture, their language. I don’t think you can fight against the natural desire for freedom, independence, ownership, identity.

Leadership, in the end, is only temporary. Sure, you want to build. Build an empire, build a palace, build a grand universe, create a magnum opus. But you must build a stack of cards that will stand on its own when you take away your hand, a book that can still be read when you die. Not to be remembered as the empire that fell, the sandcastle that washed away.

Remember Inception? You cannot build a country by telling people this is your country. You cannot build an identity by giving people one. It might be a dream, a fantastic dream, but once you mess too much and it starts deviating from common sense or their root innate sense of justice, fairness, logic, it starts to unravel. It doesn’t require high intelligence or deep thought, just simple intuition that any child is capable of.

A blog about startups mentioned that founders aren’t necessarily the right person to be the ensuing CEO when the organisation grows and has different urgencies. Founders thrive on ideas and CEOs need to organize the structure. An MBA doesn’t suit thwarted founders because at an early stage your company cannot function on having a complete structure.
Of course the transition is not easy, and not always in the same manner. But there comes a time in development when things change, and it is difficult but necessary to understand what is required, and to hand it over to someone who is better suited for it. For the greater good.of the greater number isn’t it? Learn to let go when it is time to let go.

Incorporated