Analysis Paralysis

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Clara Pan spent one month and managed to collect five stars after completed writing five pages of words as her homework from daddy. The deal was for a toy (not too big one) as a reward if she kept to her side of the deal and we both kept to the deal.

We spent 2 hours today pacing up and down through all the toy sections at the nearby mall and she could not find something that she really wanted for the effort she put in to have earned this reward. Suddenly spending her own hard earned reward is a lot more difficult then we all imagined.

I saw her frustrated. I saw her helpless. She looked like she could not find joy in any of the toys available in front of her. It felt as if her effort is worth a lot more then any of these colorful plastic in front of her.

Both my wife and I could sense her sadness and offered to buy her anything she wanted, but she could not decide. She honestly could not find something she really really wanted.

We left. Headed home. Empty handed. And on the way home, she fell asleep in the car, frowning.

It is a sad, emotional and philosophical evening.

Originally posted on my Facebook

Brainstorming House Rules

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In the creative industry, we can’t escape for brainstorms and for those who have been to enough unproductive brainstorm sessions will know the frustrating feeling of losing precious hours in the day. Here are some key brainstorming rules to keep it productive from what i’ve experience.

  1. Designate a moderator – This person makes sure we start on time, keep on topic, break up disagreements and ensures notes gets circulated after the brainstorm with clear next steps.
  2. Keep the group small – Each person’s time cost the company money, so keep the group small. Many people does not mean many ideas. Just ensure the people who know the subject matter well and the creative people are in the room.
  3. Get everyone wired up – Set the environment. Coffee, snacks and the most important, provide stimulus. Links to youtube videos, articles, reports, great advertising, etc.
  4. Focus on Quantity – During a brainstorm, you want to get as many ideas as possible. Some seemingly not so good ideas might spark off new thoughts in others. Ideas can also be merged.
  5. Withhold Criticism – While brainstorming for ideas, don’t start figuring out execution, so don’t think too far down the idea and start criticising the ideas. Criticism might also cause people to stop contributing as no one likes to look silly.
  6. Welcome unusual ideas – Everyone thinks differently and some can come up with really obscure ideas. Welcome it as it adds an interesting mix.
  7. Build on Ideas – Some ideas can be merged, so feel free to build upon the ideas of others.
  8. Don’t execute – At brainstorms, avoid going into too much detail and start crafting out how the idea will be executed. There will be lots of time for that for the shortlisted ideas.
  9. Don’t worry – Don’t be too self conscious at brainstorms. Remember we are going for quantity, so don’t worry about what others think. Even if there is something semi good in a half idea, share it.
  10. Don’t look backward – Don’t let legacy or past failures haunt you. Some past ideas that could not be executed in the past or did not work out does not mean it won’t work now.
  11. Keep it short – If you can’t explain your idea in a simple succinct line, then its going to be hard for others to understand it. Reduce complexity, keep it short.
  12. Sleep on it – We don’t have to decide on the ideas in the first sitting. Let the ideas fester. Sleep on it.

Any other rules that works especially well in brainstorms you’ve been to? Do share below in the comments.

Majulah Singapura

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What a heavy week.

This week, we mourn the passing of our first Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

My wife and I were glued to the television for the past few days as Mr Lee’s life and contributions unveiled on national television to much detail. We also shared with each other the stories and tributes we have gathered from social media as we have our dinner at home while trying to get our daughters to be interested in black and white speeches.

As the broadcast replayed previous national day rallies, key speeches by Mr Lee, tributes by ministers and the overwhelming outpouring of grief from the population, it’s quite hard to hold back the emotions. This is not just an emotional national event, its something a lot more personal as it felt like we have lost someone really close. This someone worked tirelessly behind the scene with insurmountable external and internal challenges all this while to prepare our Singapore for us even before we were born.

This someone intruded into our lives unapologetically, into my family life, into my life and decided for me that English will be my primary language and that I need to be a bilingual, decided that my teachers need to do a better job, decided that I need to serve the military, decided that so long as I’m employed, I’ll be able to have a roof over my head for my family.

My childhood replayed in my mind again and again as the primitive black and white speeches filled the screen. And with every replay I become more sensitive to the impact Mr Lee had on my life, our lives.

How can a man have such great vision? How can a man have such intellect, such discipline and yet such selfless devotion for his country?

I count myself blessed being born into Singapore.

Mr Lee had a conviction in his younger days. From his experience of cruelty from the war, the discrimination he had as an Asian in a Western University to his belief that we need to govern ourselves after the British could not fend off the Japanese during the Second World War. His conviction led to his life long dedication to Singapore and to us its people.

He laid a world-class infrastructure for Singapore. From economy to education, from security to racial harmony, from greenery to a very useful and much envied passport. He built a second generation of leaders to govern the country as he aged and provided wise council and continued contributing to the nation in whatever capacity he could.

In the past years, the societal questions and discussions that lingered on everyone’s lips were things like the high cost of living, over-crowding, stressful education for the young and even incompetence of some of our leaders. The vocal and unrestrained dissentient individuals on social media spoke out and questioned our leaders and demanded answers, solutions and a better way.

It felt like the Lee Kuan Yew type vision and leadership is slowly fading away and citizens have also criticised that the current leadership might not know how to run a first world country as trains start breaking down every other month. The common sentiment on the street is that Mr Lee and his old guards governed a very different country when we gained independence and their ways worked for that time, but it’s a very different world now in 2015.

I’ve never considered migrating, but in the past few years, this topic of uprooting and going to another country has been discussed with some closer friends who have also started to explore this perspective as our kids struggle academically in school, in this fast paced, competitive and distracted society.

This Sunday, as Mr Lee’s funeral procession leaves the Parliament House and heads for the University Cultural Centre for the funeral service, I’m sure Singaporeans all across Singapore will be overwhelmed with sadness. But at the same time, also be overwhelmed with gratitude and gratefulness for this great man and the foundation he have laid for us.

After Mr Lee’s funeral this Sunday, we will technically be out of the week of mourning and we all go back to our lives.

I really wonder with this week’s unceasing tributes and recognition of Mr Lee’s life long contribution to our exceptional country, what impact will it have on our politicians, what impact will it have on global leaders, but more importantly, what impact will it have on everyone of us that call ourselves Singaporeans.

What will the next 50 years for Singapore look like?

How will we Singaporeans chart our own path?

How will we Singaporeans be part of the Singapore that Mr Lee dedicated his life to?

How will we Singaporeans be part of our Singapore?

Majulah Singapura. Onward Singapore.