Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The missing genius? Indeed.

The Straits Times today ran a full page report of an interview with physicist and futurist Dr Michio Kaku. He fingered Singapore's lack of originality, and perhaps a chief limitation to Singapore's success. He said, 'If you want to be a leader, you can't just copy, you have to create'. How true.

So much of what has passed for leadership in Singapore unfortunately has been based on frenetic and often thoughtless copying, instead of true innovation. Leaders are rewarded for how rapidly they can introduce changes based on Western (often US) ideas and developments. To me this is not leadership. I have posted earlier on Dr Goh Keng Swee's exception leadership qualities, as well as the poor simulate of leadership we have currently in our medical environment where we just mindlessly ape US methods, as if those were going to automatically determine success. PAH!!

So often we have seen local ideas and innovations poo-pooed simply because they do not conform to US ideas of how things should be done. Original research ideas are artificially aligned with US ideas of how things should be done, and rejected if they do not match up. Sadly, often we see them resurrected years later only after some US guru suddenly proclaims them to be the latest research fad.

So where's the originality? Where's the creativity? Where's the true leadership?

Indeed, 'if you want to be a leader you can't just copy, you have to create'.

So here's a plea to our would be leaders, ....please lead...please help and facilitate our originality and creativity. Stop going for those low lying fruits. And playing those self gratifying numbers games.


Anonymous said...

Our culture and system do not permit creativity. Have you ever heard that someone who is not in the research career has been picked to head a research centre over other researchers? Relationship and work culture have killed the creativity. It is not that we do not have creative people but simply they are not utililised for office politics. They are not in the same camp of those in power. Those in power only care for their own turf and have no interest on overall outcome. Able creative people will then leave the country for good. This is the real life here.

gigamole said...

Interestingly, yesterday's Straits Times featured an interview with Prof Dale Jorgenson from Harvard about his thoughts on productivity.

I quote his comments on what doesn't work for Singapore:"The idea that they ought to get involved directly in deciding who's innovative, I think that's pie in the sky, I don't think they are going to be very effective. I just hope they don't waste a lot of money."

One is reminded of how much money A*STAR wastes on telling us what areas to do research in.