Thursday, October 15, 2009

Town Hall Meetings a la Singapore

Apparently town hall meetings have been around for a long time. But they are a feature mainly of 'democratic' societies. For example, in the democratic city state of Athens, citizens met regularly to make decisions affecting their community. More recently it became more of an American concept and practice. Town hall meetings can be initiated by leaders or members of the community, grass root organizations etc, but the fundamental idea was that it was an opportunity for community based opinions to be heard about impending issues affecting their community, and for community leaders and the community members to be in touch and hear each other out.

In Singapore, more and more gahment type organizations are now holding 'town hall meetings'. I suspect the management teams have all attended some similar senior management courses, and have been told that it was good management practice to do so.

So we hear of town hall meetings from time to time. Sadly most of these town hall meetings are very contrived and generally very poorly attended. I think the reason for this seemingly apathetic response from these corporate communities are because our management teams don't quite get the idea of what a town hall meeting is supposed to be. Instead of having a meeting to discuss and solicit opinions from the community (which means they actually must want to listen to the opinions raised). Most often, our Singapore styled town hall meetings are poorly disguised top down briefing sessions that are little more than for management to tell you more of the same thing. Typically in such town hall meetings, management's voice represents perhaps 90% or more of the proceedings. A poor simulate of a democratic process.

The MOH apparently wants to have a dialogue session, a town hall meeting about the coming residency programme. Great. But I am really hoping they will be more prepared to hear and listen than to just make presentations.

No comments: