I often get asked how organisations can build a more innovative culture. It is a valid but difficult question to answer as culture is something that is multi-faceted, involves history and legacy, and includes a set of deeply-held values.

It is one thing to have a list of values on the wall or published in a corporate annual report. It is yet another to live and breathe innovation in daily activities — what I would call “day-to-day innovation”, challenging assumptions and doing things differently.
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Do you consider yourself innovative? This question usually elicits a negative response for two reasons. First, people tend to wrongly equate innovation with only technologies, research and development, and new products. Second, innovation is misperceived as the domain of a select creative few.

Innovation is far more than this and reframing it in our own mind can help us to see where we can contribute to innovation in our lives and the work that we do every day.

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A Singaporean friend recently shared that despite having a stable corporate role, she missed the challenges involved in running her own business. Despite two previous entrepreneurial failures, she was keen to go back to managing start-ups. Why? Because she has grit.

What is grit? It is the ability to pick oneself up in the face of great disappointment or failure, and have another go. Or as psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth says: “Grit is sticking with your future — day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years — and working really hard to make that future a reality.”

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So what is on the mind of the Singaporean manager? Plenty, shows the Singaporean Management Agenda survey of 600 organisations on a range of business topics. The results, published by Roffey Park and Management Development Institute, provide fresh insight on the pulse of Singaporean business managers.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the No 1 preoccupation of the respondents was talent management, more specifically, recruiting the right staff. More interestingly, increasing productivity and encouraging innovation were among the top five human resource challenges listed by the managers. When I dug a bit deeper into the data, some surprises piqued my interest.

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Last month, my business partner and I decided to switch our bank account to DBS. I must say, it was truly an exceptional experience. From entering its pod-like lobby at the Marina Bay Financial Centre, which looked like a cross between a five-star-hotel reception and a spaceship, I was mesmerised. Could this really be a bank?

From there on, I found myself analysing every little detail of its service offering — from its high-touch interaction with customer service representatives, to the low-touch experience of interacting with its technological platforms.

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A new year is full of hope and aspiration — it is like turning the pages of a recently purchased book, whereby we put aside the past and look forward to the future.

It is full of new resolutions — lose weight, learn a new skill or get a new job — most of which are long forgotten as life catches up with us.

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