melissa tan – Engineering Leadership – Institute for Engineering Leadership http://ielstaging.net Wed, 14 Nov 2018 18:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.16 EHIVE: 14 NOV http://ielstaging.net/ehive/ Wed, 14 Nov 2018 18:00:58 +0000 http://ielstaging.net/?p=8102 The post EHIVE: 14 NOV appeared first on Engineering Leadership - Institute for Engineering Leadership.

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EHIVE 14 NOV http://ielstaging.net/ehive/ Wed, 14 Nov 2018 18:00:47 +0000 http://ielstaging.net/?p=8097     If you want to know more – kindly email to iel_events@nus.edu.sg

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Corporate Leadership in Action: Straight talk from an Engineer Leader http://ielstaging.net/seah-moon-ming-lecture-edm/ Fri, 26 Oct 2018 18:30:52 +0000 http://ielstaging.net/?p=8032 The post Corporate Leadership in Action: Straight talk from an Engineer Leader appeared first on Engineering Leadership - Institute for Engineering Leadership.

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Failure as a Badge of Honour http://ielstaging.net/failure-as-a-badge-honour/ Wed, 24 Oct 2018 06:56:40 +0000 http://ielstaging.net/?p=8377 Failure as a Badge of Honour A sharing session with Adjunct Professor Lim Soon Hock and Dr KH Liew Article by Lim Teck Heng, Student Writer for IEL “For our sharing today, I must tell you upfront that I have crafted it to be controversial,” Prof Lim Soon Hock began the session with an attention-grabbing […]

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Failure as a Badge of Honour

A sharing session with Adjunct Professor Lim Soon Hock and Dr KH Liew

Article by Lim Teck Heng, Student Writer for IEL

“For our sharing today, I must tell you upfront that I have crafted it to be controversial,” Prof Lim Soon Hock began the session with an attention-grabbing disclaimer. And unconventional it was.

From the get go, Prof Lim impressed upon the audience his firm belief that failure and success are not two mutually exclusive concepts. Taking us through various dictionary definitions of failure, he explained how failure is invariably taken to mean the opposite of success, a view which he fervently disagrees with. Instead, he invoked the analogy of ying and yang in Chinese philosophy to explain his view on the nexus between success and failure. Just as ying and yang are elements that harmonise with one another to keep our universe perfectly balanced, success and failure are experiences that can and must coexist in our life for our holistic development.

Prof Lim had observed a marked disparity between people’s attitudes to failure and success. In management and board meetings, success and accomplishment are often glorified, but failure – in the past, present, or future – is this elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. According to him, successes ought to be celebrated, but it is more important to learn from failures, and to fully understand what can go wrong in any endeavour.

Prof Lim made use of a clever yet simple thought experiment to expose our inherent tendencies to view failure in a negative light. He asked the audience how many steps were taken if someone had taken three steps forward and then two steps back. The reflexive answer might be one step if we only accounted for the net number of steps taken. But the correct answer is five because we should not discount the two steps backwards; there are gains to be made and vital lessons to be learnt even when you move backwards in life.

Prof Lim went on to justify why he did not see failure as the antithesis to success. He argued that if our endeavours contribute to our next big win, they are not failures from his point of view, even though conventional wisdom might brand them so. He encouraged the audience to chase their curiosity without necessarily having financial objectives in mind all the time, because he believes that financial rewards will naturally follow when we manage to succeed in our non-financial objectives.

Also, Prof Lim reminded the audience not to be afraid of pivoting from the lessons that they have learnt from failing. He offered this incisive quote: Businesses do not fail; people do. According to him, what goes wrong in a venture is often not the business or the idea but the execution. We can only expect success if we learn from failures and fine tune how we execute our ideas.

He gave the example of the struggles of a fintech start up that he mentored. This start up was trying to make an impact in the crowded e-procurement space for SMEs, where the barriers to entry are low. Fortunately, the founders were sensible enough to change course timely to avoid more financial haemorrhage. After an in-depth study of the customers’ needs. they pivoted on their experience and insight to offer cash flow funding instead using blockchain and smart contract. In doing so, they are solving a chronic problem in the last mile of a transaction, which earned them invaluable support from IBM and the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Again, Prof Lim stressed that any endeavour is not a failure when it leads you to the right idea.

On the other hand, as a negative example, he highlighted the liquidation of a company that he had previously been involved in as an Independent Director, which possessed unique intellectual property but could not capitalise on that advantage. He explained that the management was reluctant to acknowledge mistakes and was always pinning the blame on others. From the vastly different fortunes of these two companies, Prof Lim wanted to drive home the importance of recognising failure when it happens and adjusting your game plan accordingly.

Prof Lim wrapped up his section of the sharing by calling upon students to fail fast and learn fast. Compared to his generation, young people have a longer runway to make mistakes and learn from them, to earn the badge of honour.

Taking over from Prof Lim, Dr Liew tapped on his experience as a project management lecturer & practitioner to discuss the importance of learning about why things fail. He asked the audience if they thought projects could fail before they have even started. He recounted an anecdote about how a company managed to botch a multimillion tender bid because they left the submission of the documents to an external courier. The courier reached the tender office only a minute late, but the damage was already done. From this mishandled situation, Dr Liew wanted to reinforce the importance of checking through the smallest details, and not leaving things to chance. This complemented Prof Lim’s earlier claim that businesses do not fail but people do.

Dr Liew also echoed Prof Lim’s point about why we need to recognise failure and have a candid discussion about it. He shared his experience lobbying for the Ministry of Manpower to release anonymised case studies of industrial accidents into the public domain for everyone to learn from these failures, and how his efforts were met with initial resistance but eventually paid off.

Dr Liew claimed that when we do not study risks and past failures carefully, disaster could strike and repeat itself. He shared the examples of the space disasters of the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia to emphasise his point. The Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated because of a seal failure, something seemingly insignificant. But NASA, the space agency of the United States, continued to neglect the minute operational details and history repeated itself less than twenty years later. The breakage of a mere foam insulation, dislodging a heat resistant tile, was enough to trigger the explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia. On the back of sharing these case studies, Dr Liew ended off by encouraging the audience never to fail to learn.

During the Question & Answer segment, Prof Lim shared one last anecdote from a defining moment in his illustrious career that stayed with him after all these years. While working at Digital Equipment Corporation, he was headhunted by Compaq. He revealed that his Far East President in Digital, and close friends had dissuaded him from taking up the job because they were convinced that he would fail. They had good reasons and good intentions: after all, Compaq produced the most expensive personal computer in the market then, and it would be very difficult if not near impossible to sell it in large quantities in what was arguably the most difficult and price sensitive Asian market, which was lacking in purchasing power. For the first time in his life, Prof Lim was seriously entertaining the prospect of failure. But his track record in marketing quality products and services gave him the confidence to press on with his decision. Within five years, Compaq was number one in the Asia-Pacific region against all odds, and in seven years, achieved 1 billion dollars in sale from 30 million dollars. The irony was that his well-intentioned peers, in not wanting him to fail, would have inadvertently caused him not to succeed had he followed their advice.

Prof Lim left the audience with this empowering and inspiring message:

“The truth is that everyone is born for failure. People who learn how to win from failure and think everything is possible, get to enjoy success, if they do not give up. If you believe in the impossible, nothing gets done.

But if you believe in the possible, the impossible becomes possible.”

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Life-Saving Trolleys http://ielstaging.net/life-saving-trolleys-article/ Thu, 20 Sep 2018 08:31:09 +0000 http://ielstaging.net/?p=8368 The post Life-Saving Trolleys appeared first on Engineering Leadership - Institute for Engineering Leadership.

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Life Saving Trolleys http://ielstaging.net/life-saving-trolleys-article/ Thu, 20 Sep 2018 08:20:07 +0000 http://ielstaging.net/?p=8358   Life Saving Trolleys (15 September 2018) By Lim Teck Heng, IEL Student Writer Military Medicine Institute (MMI), the organisation in charge of SAF Medical Centres across the island, is one of the problem statement providers for InnoVenture 2018. To allow participants to gain insight into how inspections of the Emergency Trolley (E-Trolley) are conducted, […]

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Life Saving Trolleys

(15 September 2018)

By Lim Teck Heng, IEL Student Writer

Military Medicine Institute (MMI), the organisation in charge of SAF Medical Centres across the island, is one of the problem statement providers for InnoVenture 2018. To allow participants to gain insight into how inspections of the Emergency Trolley (E-Trolley) are conducted, MMI invited two groups of NUS students over to SAFTI Medical Centre across two separate days (20th and 24th September) to watch a live demonstration by SAF medics. We were there on 20th September to attend the first demonstration.

Ms Lee Xiao Qi, Healthcare Cluster Manager, she started off the session by explaining the nature of MMI’s operations. Akin to polyclinics in the civilian world, SAF Medical Centres provide primary healthcare services, but targeted at military personnel.

She proceeded to outline the problem that MMI faced with the E-Trolley. Every E-Trolley has a standardised layout and stock list of resuscitation drugs and equipment. Duty Medics are responsible for frequent checks on the E-Trolley to ensure that all the stocks are serviceable and in the right arrangement. The ability to retrieve the drugs and equipment readily greatly boosts the chances of saving the patient’s life in the case of a resuscitation case. Medics will sound off during the checks if they notice any expired, broken, or missing stocks so that swift replacement can be done. However, these thorough checks can be time-consuming, taking up entire mornings, and are prone to human error. Therefore, MMI hoped to enlist the help of students to devise a stocktaking method that was more streamlined and efficient, yet not compromising on accuracy.

After her briefing, students were allowed into the resuscitation room to watch a medic going through a routine check of the E-Trolley. Having been on the ground and understood the practical challenges, the medic could point out to the onlooking students those aspects of the inspection that were especially tedious. For example, he highlighted that the date format on the physical checklist differed from that on the drug packaging, so extra care had to be taken when verifying the expiry dates. This posed especial inconvenience to the medic who had to record down the expiry dates on the checklist at the start of every month.

Later on, students broke into groups and a medic was attached to each group. The medics were glad to answer any lingering questions that the students had, and also provide their perspectives on how the inspection process could be improved. Common concerns raised by the medics include certain equipment having similar-sounding names, and equipment with the same name differing in their expiry dates, both of which could lead to confusion. Some felt that regular checks might actually increase the risk of losing parts during the process of breaking seal.

Following this valuable visit, students had a better grasp of the customers’ needs and could begin brainstorming possible solutions. A big thank you to SAF MMI for allowing us the opportunity to enter the base and see the actual E-Trolley and learn first hand about the difficulties in inspecting them. We look forward to the seeing the solutions students will derive at IdeaLaunch!

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InnoVenture Solutioning Workshop – Ideas for Ideas http://ielstaging.net/iv-2018-solutioning-workshop/ Sat, 15 Sep 2018 15:01:36 +0000 http://ielstaging.net/?p=8335 The post InnoVenture Solutioning Workshop – Ideas for Ideas appeared first on Engineering Leadership - Institute for Engineering Leadership.

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InnoVenture Solutioning Workshop – Ideas for Ideas http://ielstaging.net/iv-2018-solutioning-workshop/ Sat, 15 Sep 2018 04:24:20 +0000 http://ielstaging.net/?p=8318       InnoVenture Solutioning Workshop – Ideas for Ideas (15 September 2018) By Elijah Ng, IEL Student Writer Having explored, understood, and verified the problems faced by their target consumers, our students were now ready to begin ideating. To help them get their creative sparks flying, InnoVenture organised a Solutioning workshop, with guest lecturer Patrick […]

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InnoVenture Solutioning Workshop
– Ideas for Ideas

(15 September 2018)

By Elijah Ng, IEL Student Writer

Having explored, understood, and verified the problems faced by their target consumers, our students were now ready to begin ideating. To help them get their creative sparks flying, InnoVenture organised a Solutioning workshop, with guest lecturer Patrick Chia (Director of the Design Incubation Center) from the School of Design & Environment in NUS. To get participants into the groove of divergent thinking, the workshop was kickstarted with a simple yet challenging activity: draw 30 variations of an apple.

With their right brains jump-started, they were then ready to explore the various methods of design thinking — and to apply them to their own problems. One of these methods was the journey map, which is perhaps the best alternative to the business canvas that most entrepreneurs are familiar with. Instead of collating the pain and pleasure points into a diagram, the journey map approach involved plotting out the user’s experience in great detail and then identifying the pains and gains involved in each step of the customer’s journey. This breakdown allowed students to home in on exact points in the process to find design problems and opportunities. It was a new approach anchored in user-experience.

After seeing their problems with a fresh set of design-thinking lenses, students were now ready to learn new ways of ideating — the act of coming up with as many solutions as possible to their identified opportunities. One of the more interesting methods taught was to attempt a force fit of emerging technological trends with their current problem. Though this did not lead to the creation of a new fancy blockchain-based cryptocurrency (thank goodness for that!), it did get students to start thinking about the implications of such new yet accessible technologies and to examine if existing solutions to other problems might be applicable to theirs.

Lastly, to wrap up the session, students learned to evaluate their ideas. This was perhaps, the most crucial step towards developing a brilliant idea. After having generated tons of ideas throughout the session, it was necessary to filter them down and further refine the best of their ideas. To accomplish this, students were taught the evaluation matrix, a simple, graphical method of classifying and narrowing down their ideas, allowing them to pick out the top few. After that, they were taught to provide critical and constructive feedback by utilising three statements, namely: “I like…”, “I wish… “, and “what if…”. This allowed them to give adequate validation for the areas which were good (something quite often left out in criticism), while also positively pointing out possible avenues for improvement, as is necessary for all constructive feedback.

It was a long but intense crash-course to the design process, but with all these Solutioning tools in the bag, our InnoVenturers were now ready to hit the drawing boards, get crazy with brainstorming, and dream up their MVPs! Best of luck to them!

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InnoVenture Customer Focus Workshop – Question, Question, Question http://ielstaging.net/innoventure-customer-focus-workshop-question-question-question/ Mon, 03 Sep 2018 05:10:32 +0000 http://ielstaging.net/?p=8068 The post InnoVenture Customer Focus Workshop – Question, Question, Question appeared first on Engineering Leadership - Institute for Engineering Leadership.

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InnoVenture Customer Focus Workshop – Question, Question, Question http://ielstaging.net/innoventure-customer-focus-workshop-question-question-question/ Mon, 03 Sep 2018 05:04:35 +0000 http://ielstaging.net/?p=8058       InnoVenture Customer Focus Workshop – Question, Question, Question (3 September 2018) By Elijah Ng, IEL Student Writer More than 90% of all start-ups fail. There are many reasons for that, but one of the most common problems that any enterprise can face is a disconnect between their product and the needs of […]

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InnoVenture Customer Focus Workshop
– Question, Question, Question

(3 September 2018)

By Elijah Ng, IEL Student Writer

More than 90% of all start-ups fail. There are many reasons for that, but one of the most common problems that any enterprise can face is a disconnect between their product and the needs of the market. Thus InnoVenture 2018 ‘s first bootcamp was focussed on the customer. Before they could even work on the problem statements, it was essential for the students to start with a clean slate, and question any assumptions they had early on. This was taught through a series of simple, yet thought-provoking activities. One of which was the classic build-a-wallet activity.

By probing into each other’s definitions of an ideal wallet, students were able to uncover the reality of their differing wants and needs. The ideal wallet is not a homogeneous idea: someone’s personal conceptualisation of the ideal wallet may not necessarily match another’s. While there certainly were some common wanted features, students were quick to learn that simply creating a product that they want was not a good gauge of its market desirability. There was a gap between the product they would have created in isolation, and what their neighbour would have wanted. It was only through connecting with their target customer and asking questions that this gap was closed.

Students were then tasked with prototyping a wallet and selling it to their friends. It was as difficult as it sounds, but lots of fun at the same time. The key lesson here was that it’s even harder to accurately implement and materialize something that was in-line with the ideals that the customer had laid out. Simply having the knowledge of a customer’s wants does not necessarily translate into being able to create a product that truly met their needs or wants. Students realised the need to continuously test their ideas, designs, and products. It was the only way to ensure that they were creating a product that the market really needed and wanted.

The session ended with team meet-ups with InnoVenture’s academic mentors and partner companies who had provided the problem statements for the year – InnoSparks, SAF Military Medicine Institute, Champs Industrial and Surbana Jurong. The first bootcamp provided the necessary foundation to start the students’ of on their InnoVenture journeys – they set forth to pinpoint the problems that truly need solving.

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