Value Attribution: 5 cents and 10 cents
                                                                                                                     An Article by Joey Ng
                                                                                                                   Date of Review: 3/4/2010

                                                                                                                  ‘No men are equal’


No men are equal because humans are different. No two roles in a team are equal because they are different. Difference leads to comparison and comparison results in order. When working in teams, order is classified by the importance (perceived or not) of the role. The value we give to a person or role reflects the importance of it. Let’s say 10 cents is more important, 5 cents less. Labeling values in team can allow a team to better allocate resources. For example, the role of a CEO is highly valued, and it will be rewarded as such. How much we label a person determines how we perceive and judge him. When we judge, we not only judge the person, but everything about the person, for example, competency, works and information. Because of this, if we are fixated with the value we attribute to 10 cents, they will always be perceived as more right then 5 cents, even if that is not the case.

Fixation is the child of Diagnoses Bias. Commitment further cements fixation.

When our mind is fixed on certain perceptions, we erect walls, blinders against any facts or information that is not aligned with our mental model. Some psychiatrists call this putting up of blinders Diagnose Bias. Diagnose Bias
occurs when we label someone and form a perception that closes off any avenue to see who the person really is. Once a label is diagnosed, it is hard for people to see the person in any other light. Add commitment into the mix, it becomes even harder.

The more we commit into someone, the higher the value we place on him, the stronger the blinders will hold. Commitment requires investing of resources. Because of the effort and time we have invested to make someone a 10 cents, we will put on blinder if the person’s action or words are not aligned with our perception. The alignment is placed not against the person per se, but also, the resources we have invested in him.

Assigning someone a label or value will affect the way we perceive him, and how we perceive an individual will determine how we work with them. ‘You are what you think you are’ is based on how we align our thoughts and actions towards the mental picture we paint of ourselves. On the same notion, ‘You are what OTHERS think you are’ happens when we take on characteristics ascribe to us. This mirroring of expectation is know as the Pygmalion effect and the Golden effect (taking on traits assigned by someone else) in the psychological circle.

Put Diagnose Bias and Commitment together, it could result in a cocktail of serious misjudgment. Now, think about it – if someone is misjudged and labeled as a “5 cent”, he is treated like one and takes on traits of a “5 cent”. It might make him a lesser person just because of someone’s misjudgment.

Assigning values happens all the time, whether it is differentiating roles in a team, or comparing oneself against another. Assigning values facilitates decision making process. However, a combination of arbitrary assignment and fixation could result if dire consequences. The key when attributing someone a value is to stay open to changes. Just like how the value of currency will fluctuate, so to, will our 5 cents and 10 cents. So, watch how loosely you give that ‘change’.




Eureka! – Making Brilliant Ideas Happen
A book review by Joey Ng

‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ – Albert Einstein.

Ideas are generated through imagination. Anyone can imagine because all it takes is to answer the question, ‘What I want’. However, making our ideas viable and practical, answering the question, ‘What I can’, is another matter altogether. This book provides some interesting pointers on how to generate ideas and of course, make them happen!

First and foremost, like other books on creativity and innovation, the author identifies the correlation between creativity and knowledge. The more you know, the more you are likely to generate brilliant ideas and most importantly, make them happen. Research has shown that it took geniuses like Einstein and Mozart around 10 years to come out with their first meaningful creation. It makes all the sense as imagining without substantial knowledge is as wild as it can get. With more experience and skill, your ideas will be more in tune with reality, thus, making it more likely to happen.


Here are other interesting notes I picked up: How to generate ideas?

Whenever you need tobe resourceful in life and to get ideas, you will use your creativity. The urge to create is at the core of what makes us human and is one of the big distinguishing differences that make us members of the dominant species on this planet.

Intelligence is at the heart of creativity. Eureka shed some interesting light between traditional intelligence and creative intelligence. The former is placed as a form of analysis, orientating to ‘one right answer’ and limit itself to what currently exists. The latter, involves synthesizing, evoking feelings and fantasies and speculates on the ‘what might be’. It is creative intelligence’s ‘ability’ to synthesis
ideas in specific context that allows brilliant ideas to happen.

An estimated 5% of our brain is under conscious control, the rest, lies in the unconscious. One of the basic function of the unconscious is it acts like a scanner that helps direct our conscious to where the attention is needed. Our unconscious holds all sorts of learning and tacit knowledge and it is where the brilliant ideas come from. The book includes a few ways to tap on our unconscious, one of it – day dream.

This could sound ironic but how our brain functions limit our creative capacity. Our brain is use to organized and categorizes information, allowing us to quickly and easily make sense of the world around us. Quick responses help us handle potential danger, but also help us misjudge because of the quick connections drawn. Our brain processes and make light of information through comparison of patterns. In this book, patterns are termed as‘constructs’. Constructs are the metaphorical see-saw in our
mind, each end representing the contradicting values we assign… Ok, layman. We are wired to think that things are either black or white. If we are able to dance between the black, white and everything else in between, better ideas can be generated because we can see things from more angles.


How to make ideas happen?

To make your ideas happen you first have to express them out. Some find it difficult to express their ideas because of the lack of confidence, as they do not see themselves as the originator. Originator is, as the name says, the source of the idea. Now, there are 2 kinds of creative listed in one chapter, creative thinking, and creative intelligence. Creative thinking refers to the ability to solve problem. People who are good at this make excellent critics. However, they need something to work with, something to critic, something to solve. Creative intelligence is much more than that. People who are creatively intelligent are able to create something out of nothing, make something happen. Those who fall under the latter category are more likely to make ideas happen because of the confidence they have in themselves and
the deep understanding of their ideas. And it makes sense because the more you know about something, the more likely your idea will take off.

Here’s an experiment to test whether you are more a ‘thinking’ or ‘intelligence’:

On a piece of blank paper, write a story.
If your first response is ‘write about what?’, it means you need a point of origin for reference, thus, you are more ‘thinking’. If without question, you start writing, you are more ‘intelligence.’ To make brilliant ideas happen, you have to see yourself as an originator, someone who brings thing into a blank page.

Another way to make ideas happen is to look at how we get and respond to criticism from other people. Through feedback (a nicer way to term criticism), you will know how far your idea is away from reality. Having a vivid picture of your idea allows you to filter between constructive feedbacks and pure criticisms. It will come handy when you are given constructing views.

Reading this book will not make you an instant genius, but it’s sure a good start to your
next Eureka!




For most of us, we have been taught to work hard in all our endeavors since young. In sports, in school and sometimes, during play, we are always reminded to work hard and put in all our effort. When things do not work out, we are told that what matters most is not the result, but the hard work we put in. There are many reasons for encouraging this notion. For one, it tells us that achievement does not come easy. Next, it teaches us the importance of working hard, and also, instilling the ‘never give up’ spirit in us. In short, working hard is good and we should work hard in everything we do. Right? Not quite.

As we grow older and become more in tune with reality, things starts to differ and our world-view change. In the real world, working hard can be viewed from an alternate angle. In certain fraction of reality, what matters is result, hard work or not, fortunately or unfortunately, does not. Truth is, as long as the results are on the table, no one really cares how much effort is put in.

On the same note, effort serves as a form of indicator to evaluate one’s talent, ability and competency. Achieving result with no or minimal effort could means one ‘have’. Having to labor through the process could mean one ‘do not have’. Of course, time and effort alone is not the clearest indicator because sometimes, we do like to labor our way through certain deeds. Two questions should be answered to further evaluate one’s ‘have’ and ‘do not have’: 1) Am I enjoying the process? 2) Are there results?

Enjoyment is immeasurable but result is. How much joy one is getting from the process can only be felt by the perpetrator. On the other hand, result, quality and all, is evident to everyone, and the best form of measuring result is against the benchmark. So, if one is enjoying the process, yet has no result to show for, should one continue the endeavor?

Ideally, results should be achieve with no or minimal effort. In turn, this unused effort can then be invested in achieving other and more results. When one is putting in too much effort and not yielding the desired outcome, perhaps it is time to examine the task at hand and ask the question, ‘should I do something else?’

Everyone is good at something. Sometimes we know what we are good at (conscious competence), sometimes we do not know (unconscious incompetence), and sometimes,
we are just in denial (conscious incompetence).

Here’s a snapshot of the Conscious Competency Model, which outlines the 4 different levels one goes through when learning a new skills:

This model is self explanatory. Being conscious of one’s incompetence is the starting point of evaluating one’s position. Now that I know where I stand, how hard must I work to reach the next level? Is the hard word worthwhile or, would I ever reach the next level? Different people are cut out to do different things. When working in teams, this level can be used identify the right people to perform certain roles and tasks.

A little more on this model…

The 4th level is where one is so well-oiled at performing certain task that it requires minimal or no effort at all, almost second nature. Thus, his high level of performance has no significant impact on his self-worth.

Like many models, this has its fair share of supporters and critics. Many have argued that there should be a 5th level and one of the more convincing claims is that level 5 is ‘Complacency’ – a combination of routine and confident (over). Complacency will lead to us making mistake that we are not aware of, in order words, ‘Don’t know that we don’t know’. To avoid this, one should always stay abreast of new developments and competency standards.

Going back to the title…

The purpose of this article is to offer a non-traditional way of looking at one of life’s widely accepted norms. It is not to discourage anyone from their current effort but to encourage a
sense of reality checking – a square cube fits better in a square hole.

Next time, when someone comes up to you and say he is working hard, try this respond, ‘why don’t find something you don’t have to work hard for!’

Additional Readings:







It was another cold winter. The temperature freezing, atmosphere serene and silence filled the air. A pack of foxes were gathering in their cave, lazing around, all eyes half open. Food are always scares during winter, this one is no different. The hungry foxes haven’t eaten for 3 days.

Suddenly, the silence was broken by some noises outside the cave. A fox pops his head out of the cave, and saw a hare hopping across the vast empty land. Right away, the fox went back to the cave, woke everyone up and alert the chief fox. The chief fox immediately summons the fastest fox in the herd, Flash. Flash, or Flashy, as he is more commonly known by, is the prime hunter of the herd. He is at the peak of his prowess and is the go-to-fox when the prey is a step to fast for others.

“Flashy! We are hungry, bring the hare back.” said the chief. “Right away!” Flashy responded with a thump to his chest. Flashy burst from the cave, and dash towards the hare. Sighting
Flashy, the hare started galloping. Flashy up his pace and gave chase.

10 minutes later, Flashy returns. Empty handed, no hare in sight. “The hare was too fast.” Flashy mumbles as he walk pass his disappointed herd- mates.

How did the fastest fox lose to a hare?

In an organization, we are all part of a team, which ever way we look at it. Some networks are more apparent, while others are less obvious. Whatever it is, we all depend on others to move forward. Working together is not a choice; the structural nature of most, if not all, organization integrates individuals into a joined system. It brings people together regardless of their background and differences. Harvest constructively, these diversities offer numerous opportunities to tap on. But at the sametime, diversity is the reason why conflict occurs. Disagreement takes place because we are different. The only condition that would provide for a conflict-free relationship is when all members in the team are exactly the same is every possible way; with machines and robots, probably, in us human, no chance. Resolving difference is easier when a group of people is deciding on which restaurant to patron. In a commercial entity, where more is at stake, the pressure to deliver is constant and this piles further stress on disagreements. When ill managed, diversity turns destructive.

‘When two people come together, there’s bound to be conflict’. Team conflict is an everyday occurrence that comes in all form and happens at every level. Team dynamics and conflicts is a subject that has been studied by many and numerous related theories have since been put forth. We can summarize team conflict at 3 different levels – conflict with the goal, conflict in tactics or interpersonal conflict.

  1. Conflicts with the goal – disagreement with the team target (what).
    2. Conflict in tactics – disagreement in team processes and methods (how).
    3. Interpersonal conflict – differences in innate traits, values and personal preferences (who).

The most common source of conflict is at the interpersonal level. The regular need to interact with others means more rooms are created for this level of conflict to breed. Couple this with the fact that our values, tendencies and characteristics differs in varying degree from everyone else. Tactical conflicts are not rare either. This level of conflict has its roots in the previously described level (interpersonal) and the past experiences of individual members. Personal preferences lead to favored way of working, which in turn, lead to favored methods use. Past experiences greatly influences choice of process and methods because these methods have been proven to work, or not work. Thus, it is not uncommon to find experience teammate appearing inflexible. When combined, these two factors result in a ‘preferred method to use… all, if not most of the time’. This preferred method is both comfortable to the individual and is back by track records. How well these track records are proven is a matter of perception. If an individual thinks his method works, he will remain steadfast on his belief. When different members bring their preferred methods to the table, even with the best of intention, it can be very difficult to seek compromise and the result, conflict.

Common goal has often been cited to facilitate differences in tactics and personal preferences. The goal offers differing members a bigger picture to constructively use their differences at the other two levels. If the goal is not a quantifiable target, room should be put aside for perspective differences. As individual, it is inevitable that our perception of the goal could, and would, probably be different from each other. This is understandable and acceptable as long as the principle of the goal remains intact. What about conflict at this level? Because of the immense influence goal has on how the team works, if it is incompatible, the best way forward is to either change our individual goal, or find a team that shares the same goal.

A common goal is powerful, it binds differences. ‘What are we doing?’ is an important and essential question the team need to ask when it first come together and from time to time to
ensure alignment. Goal is influential, but there is a force that is much stronger and more significant than goal– Purpose. Purpose is the ‘Why?’ It answers the question – ‘Why are we doing what we are doing?’, ‘Why am I here?’.

Purpose is of a higher order than goal. Goals are what we want to do; purpose is the force lurking under what we do. It guides and governs our behavior and actions, and motivates our attitude. Our purpose is like the compass we use to navigate and make decisions. Like a compass, purpose provides the direction, but not the journey; it tells us where to go, and not
how to go. It doesn’t tell us what is at the end of the journey too.

Purpose is deeply ingrain in our belief system; it binds and reconciles difference more strongly than goal. Unlike goal, purpose is a never ending pursuit; it is not even long-term because purpose is not measured by time. For some of us, our life centers on our purpose. When we find others who share the same purpose or would help us move towards the right direction, it is easier to look past any differences and consider them insignificant in the greater scheme of things.

What about the flipside, when the purposes are different? Like most things, when the going is good, all are well; when it is not, we will start questioning our team mate’s attitude and motivation. Differences at all 3 levels will become more apparent and they will be attributed as the cause for the poor performance. Differences become destructive, conflict occurs. To manage conflict, we need to first identify where it took place and introduce change. More often than not, we are able to identify conflict at any of the 3 levels because they are apparent and out in the open. But, tackling differences at these levels is merely solving the surface issues, which over time, will grow again.

To seek long term solutions, we need to drive down to the roots and find leverage. Real leverage is found when we address the reasons why this differences occurs in this first place, real leverage will happen after we deal with ‘why we are doing what we doing’, real leverage can be forged once we reveal where our compass is pointing, and show everyone our true intention, our purpose.

So, how did the fox lose?

There are many reasons why a hare will outrun a very fast fox, one of it, purpose. What was the purpose for each running? For the fox, his purpose was lunch. One hare missed, another one will come. Hunger is bearable and can be satisfied another time.

As for the hare? If he is outrun, he loses his life.

Both animals were running, but both run for a different purpose. Our purpose drives our behavior and motivates our attitude – what we do, how much we do. Running for his life, the hare has only one choice: run. And run. On the other hand, running for lunch is another matter. There is always another hare or another lunch out there to be caught. Who wants it more? Who has a greater purpose?






‘The Invisible Gorilla’ – Suppose you are asked to watch a video of two teams of basketball players passing balls around. One team is dressed in white while the other black. As you are watching, you are tasked to count the number of passes made by the players in white. Midway through the video, a man in a gorilla costume walks into the middle of the action, thumps his chest and slowly walks out the other side. Do you think you would notice the gorilla? It seems silly to ask this question because the answer is obviously “yes”.

However, when this experiment was conducted at Harvard University several years ago, more than half the participants failed to notice the gorilla. They were so focused on counting the passes that they completely missed the chest-thumping ape. This study, titled ‘The Invisible Gorilla’ by psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, is one of the most best-known experiments and it shows that our attention has a capacity limit – we can only consciously read and process a limited amount of information at any one time.

At any given moment, facilitators are exposed to vast amount of sensory information, each vying for his attention. It is humanly impossible to process every bit of information at the same time due to the limited mental bandwidth we operate with. Any attempt to consciously stretch this bandwidth will only result in exhausting our mental state and lowering our sense of awareness. Try focusing on every object in the space you are at right now for 60 seconds. What was it like? How did you feel? I bet once the 60 seconds are up, your mind would immediately switch to a ‘break’ mode and go blank for a few moments.

To make up for this inherent shortcoming, facilitators need to operate with a high level of Situation Awareness (SA). SA is the ability to recognize, process and comprehend important elements of information in a given situation. Dr. Mica Endsley, recognized by many as a pioneer and leader in the study and application of SA, defined it as:

‘…the Perception of the Elements in the Environment within a Volume of Time and Space, the Comprehension of their Meaning, and the Projection of their Status in the Near Future.’

In simpler terms, it means making sense of the current situation and mentally mapping out cause-and-effect relationships.

SA is the radar that operates at the subconsciously level, constantly scanning the surroundings for abnormalities and providing updates to our mental model. Like an air-traffic control tower radar that is continuously feeding the traffic controllers with information, it identifies aircrafts that are flying too fast or heading towards the wrong runway while at the same time, provides the controllers with the most updated view of the air space.

Aside from detecting abnormalities, SA is also allows facilitators to capture information that are subtle yet significant. While a facilitator cannot control the amount of sensory elements present, he can however determine the types of elements to focus on. The more acute his SA is, the more sensitive he will be to his surroundings and this places him in a better position to anticipate changes and introduce timely intervention.

High level of SA enables facilitators to:

1) Maintain a high level of safety.
Prevention is better than cure. Having a high SA would lead to a heighten sense of anticipation. Because facilitators are able to project the plausible consequences of the current situation, this gives them that extra second to introduce preventive measures or eliminates threats before they turned into actual risks.

2) Identify opportunities to enhance the learning experience.
Seeing things that others do not is one of the hallmark of effective facilitation. While most would focus on actions that are at the heart of the activity, seldom would participants reflect on the minor incidents – incidences that come as quickly as they go. Part of SA is about being sensitive to these minor, and to many, insignificant incidences. Insightful learning, the kind that people do not recognize at first but seems so apparent when pointed out, are created when facilitators are able to spot these opportunities and create meaning off them.

3) Adjust delivery style.
Another hallmark of effective facilitation is the facilitator’s ability to adjust his delivery style. Once in a while, concerned and discomforted participants will question the facilitators’ style of delivery, but these are exceptions to the rule. In the Asian context, out of respect to the facilitators, most participants tend to keep to themselves and go with the flow. Not knowing what participants are truly feeling is a major stumbling block because the facilitator might be thinking he is doing the ‘right’ thing and would continue doing so.

By the time participants surface their concerns, it might already be too late because the damage is done. Two common cases are; 1) When the facilitator is being too strict with the rules. 2) When the facilitator uses languages that some participants are uncomfortable with. For example, jokes on sexual orientation might not fit well with participants who are strong believer of the LGBT social movement.

However, when facilitators are able to detect signs of discomfort, or feel a sense of passive aggressiveness from the participants early, they can make the necessary adjustments to their delivery before more damages are done.

4) Making better decisions, spontaneously.
Facilitators make spontaneous decisions all the time because no matter how well the programmes are designed and planned, it is not possible to factor in every possible variable. Seasoned facilitators have countless tales of curveball anecdotes. In order to make better and more informed snap decisions to respond to changing and emerging patterns, facilitators need to stay two steps ahead of the situation. For example, knowing what to do the moment grey clouds are spotted or how to adjust the programme in the event of a delay in catering services.

Here is the good news – SA is not an inborn ability that is bestowed to a lucky few. SA is an ability that facilitators can work on and be better at, it is a sense that can be trained, like a highly trained nurse who can read the faintest of pulse or a skilled wine sommelier who can give a full description with a single sip. Increased exposure and field time is widely acknowledged as key pillars in building up one’s SA. In a series of studies conducted by researcher Gary Klein on how experts in various fields make spontaneous decision in urgent situations, he found out that these individuals are able to tap on the wealth of experiences they have amassed over years of practice and understanding. One of the better-known case studies is about a seasoned fire fighter, who made the decision to pull his team out of a burning building moment before it collapsed, though there were no obvious signs of any structural damage. In an interview later, the fire fighter said he felt a hunch and something in his mind told him that the building was going to give way soon, and that made him pulled his team out.

Although experience is key to the development of SA, paradoxically, experience is also SA biggest enemy because the more experienced a facilitator is, the more likely he will fall into a routine mindset, let his senses down and allow complacency to sip in. This transition from experience to complacency is best explained through the “conscious competence” framework:

1. Unconscious incompetence
A rookie facilitator does not recognize SA as an important feature and might deny the usefulness of the skill. The facilitator must recognize his own incompetence and the value of SA before moving on to the next stage.

2. Conscious incompetence
The training facilitator now knows what SA is and acknowledges that it is a skill he lacks. He makes effort to work on his SA.

3. Conscious competence
The trained facilitator now understands how to apply SA, but he needs to concentrate and think in order to use it effectively. Without thorough cognitive effort, his SA might not be as reliable. It is only through constant practice would his SA move to the next stage.

4. Unconscious competence
The seasoned facilitator has had so much practice that SA has entered the unconscious part of the brain and it has become “second nature”. As a result, he no longer needs to consciously think about applying SA.

5. Complacency
Once SA operates at the subconscious level, the seasoned facilitator might missed the natural ‘check and balance’ system that comes with conscious thinking, thus, opening up opportunities for the occasional lapse in attention. Inexperience facilitator requires field time and practice to sharpen their SA, seasoned practitioners too need to remind themselves on the trappings of complacency. Below is a list of techniques rookie facilitator can work on to improve their SA and seasoned practitioners can adopt to guard against complacency.

1. Active involvement – SA is not a passive process, it does not just come on to the facilitator. For SA to function effectively, one has to play an active role and be with the situation. This means the facilitator has to be mentally present, consciously making sense of the events that are taking place around him. Active involvement requires the facilitator to stay engage with the process and be as involved as the participants through the experience.

2. Setting goals – Professor Kip Smith and Dr. Peter Hancock, prominently researchers in the field of aviation and human behavior in dynamic situations, defined SA as ‘adaptive, externally directed consciousnesses. They see SA as an intentional behavior that is directed towards the goal. In other words, we assess what we set out to assess. Our SA is most sensitive towards the objectives we set because our focus is primarily on them. Setting goals will help funnel our attention towards key areas. Clearly defined goals serve as both guide and reminder to the facilitator on what to look out for. Because human’s attention is limited and easily distracted, the way in which our attention is deployed will determine what is read. Before an activity commences, facilitators should be clear on where to focus their attention on, for example, to capture specific learning opportunities and/or to mitigate risk at a precise point. These points for attention could also be a specific time, juncture, person, situation, reaction or conversation.

3. Delegate responsibilities to co-facilitators or participants – There will be occasions where there are simply too many things taking place at the same time. In such instances, a facilitator can either split the area of focus with his co-facilitator (one concentrate on safety while another concentrate on learning moments) or delegate secondary roles to the participants, such as ‘Safety Officer’.
4. Expose to a variety of experiences – Facilitators who limit themselves to a small number of programme types will develop very sharp sense of SA but only in environments they are extremely familiar with. Conversely, facilitators who expose themselves to a wider range of experiences will develop wellrounded SA that can be applied effectively across various situations. For experience facilitators, exposing themselves to fresh challenges is one of the best way to guard against complacency because it reminds them that learning is an on-going process and that no facilitator can ever claim to have enough SA.

SA serves two fundamental purposes. Firstly, it enables facilitators to maintain a high level of safety. No facilitator ever plans for things to go wrong. The reality is, no matter how well the programmes are designed and how clear our instructions to the participations are, accidents are unavoidable. Accidences are after all, a matter of statistics. It is at these points where the facilitator’s foresight, speed of reaction and judgment makes all the differences and SA is central to this process. Secondly, SA supports a higher standard of learning. It is a facilitator’s ability to spot learning moments that are otherwise oblivious to everyone, and make sense of it that would create the most value to the learning process. It is here where facilitators can stimulate the deepest reflection amongst the team because it examines the underlying forces that drove the participants’ behaviors. Behaviors so instinctive that is invisible to most, but so apparent once they are pointer out. Just like the gorilla in the video. “people will focus on procedures and not notice anything that isn’t just part of the procedures”
― Daniel Simons, author of ‘The Invisible Gorilla’





                                                                                                                               An article by Joey Ng


The 3Rs is something we are all familiar with. Increased affluence in the society has push ‘green’ initiatives higher in many personal and corporate belief systems. The purpose of this article is not to tell us what the 3Rs and their impact are, but, is an attempt to metaphorically link the deeper values of the 3Rs with the function of an organization.

To reduce is to use lesser. No compromise of output with a reduction in input
equates efficiency. A simple example, it used to take 10 men to produce 100
bottles in a minute. If the company is able to reduce manpower to 5 and yet
maintain production rate of 100 bottles per minute, efficiency has been achieved, and the surplus 5 can be reassign other task, or produce another 100 bottles, increasing the overall productivity of the company.

Reuse can be simply defined as ‘use again’. Whenever an entity is used again, the return of investment (ROI) increases. ROI increases with each usage. Reusing do help company reduce cost, however, it does not apply to everything. Certain assets like machineries will reach a tipping point when further usage could actually mean higher cost. For example, the older a car, the higher the rate of fuel consumption, and the more likely it will break down. Eventually, the cost of keeping it in operations will be higher than investing in a new one. The idea that reusing drives creativity through the ingenious use of resources is also not far fetch.

Recycling is one of the greatest acts of unselfishness. The reality is, all of us who are reading this article will not live long enough to see the end of Earth, no matter how much we try to kill her. Recycling is an ongoing process with long term benefits in mind. All the ‘green’ deeds of today are for the next few generations to reap and enjoy.
Everyone knows the importance of recycling, but most still find the effort
gargantuan. Why? The short sightedness, the inability to look beyond the short
term is one possible reason. Why should I recycle when there is no impact on me if I don’t?
Short term thinking is the ‘Achilles Heel’ of organizations looking to run
sustainable business. When employees are not able to see the long term
benefits of their current actions, they will center their deeds on immediate
returns. Or, if the benefit of their work will only be reaped in the future, they will
be less, or even not motivated to perform. Another scenario is employees finding no reason for effort when they know that they will no longer be around to enjoy the harvest.

Many, if not all, functions of an organization face the challenge of short-sightedness – Innovation, self-development and branding for example. Let’s focus on branding. A strong brand requires years of consistency to build and uphold. Just like recycling, where what matters is the consistent effort over an
extended period of time. In both disciplines, the impact of nonpractice
will not be felt immediately. If I choose to not recycle a piece of paper today, the world will not collapse tomorrow. If I choose not to use the company colors appropriately, the brand will not suddenly lose its appeal. However, if this attitude persists overtime, collectively from each individual, the
damage will be felt sooner than the benefit of the contrasting paradigm.

Many actions undertaken in an organization have a strategic bearing if one is
able to look beyond the face value of the task. Let’s take putting of date when
saving E-documents for example. The primary purpose is of course to facilitate
the tracking of files, looking beyond the face value, this action serves as a,
conscious or unconscious, effort to promote the spirit of accountability. Another
one, maintaining the cleanliness of the office pantry can be parallel to ownership. No one cleans the chalet’s kitchen!
Going back to the title, when the conscious efforts of the 3Rs are practiced
continually and consistently, it would reach a level of subconscious where without much thought, one is able to readily and effortlessly apply the principle – or some call it spirit -in other actions. In the long run, when practice cohesively, the 3Rs will of course benefit the environment and society and, their deeper values (productivity, increase in ROI and long term thinking), to the organization and all its stakeholders. 




Organization Values
F.O.C.U.S in Play
By Joey Ng


  1. Organization Values: What is it?
    There are many ways to define ‘Organization Values’. Most describe it as a kind of philosophy that drives success, the motivational force for performance.
  2. Why do companies have values?
    In The Fifth Discipline, author Peter Senge states ‘Values describe how the company wants life to be on a day to day basis, while pursing the vision.’ Kouzes and Posner state in their book, The Leadership Challenge, ‘Values provide the common standard by which people could calibrate their decisions and actions.’ With a common standard, resources can be more effectively and efficiently aligned. Clear values allow team members to work independently and interdependently because decision making processes are guided by the same principle.

Values also serve as a point of reference to hire and promote. Research has shown that when personal values are congruent with the organization values, employee commitment is higher and they will find it easier to perform (more on this in 3.1). Organizations also use values to deliver consistency, be it in production or service. And values can be seemed as a form of brand promise to stakeholders.

  1. How are values used by leaders and the team?
    Organizational values are used by leaders to lead, influence and set examples and members see organization values as the company’s expectation of them.

(Deviating from the title for a sentence: choosing the right personal value will define the leader’s character and personal values is one of the most powerful tools to lead, influence and set examples.)

Values build trust. The need for trust elevates when there is no direct control over each others work and it is through the subscription of shared values that team members trust everyone else is doing the right thing. Teams also use values to influence the way other members think and behave. Instead of dictating behaviors, team uses values to guide members towards the desired culture.

3.1. Are you at the right place?: Aligning personal values with organization values
Kouzes and Posner in their research found that when there is clarity between personal and organization values, people displayed the highest level of commitment. Have you ever had the feeling ‘This is not the right place for me?’

Values of an organization define the company culture. Values can be used as reference to measure how much one fits into the company’s culture. If the fit between personal and organization values are at loggerheads, perhaps a personal exit is best for all parties. Just imagine a square block trying to fit into a round hole. Probabilities will come with great deal of discomfort of all parties, square or round.

  1. F.O.C.U.S. at work
    In comparison to the values of most companies, FOCUS’ is unique in many ways. Instead of the usuals (integrity, continuous improvement, customer excellence, teamwork), we have ‘Fun!’ How many ompanies list fun as a standard?

Most organizations subscribe to rather common values because they promote the right social ethics and morals. Generally, organizations center their values on these 3 themes:

1) Caring attitude (internal and external)
2) Performance standards
3) Differentiation

Examine closer and you will discover elements of these themes in F.O.C.U.S. F.O.C.U.S. is easy to understand and the ‘openness’ of each values allows stakeholders to interpret and more importantly, apply the values according to the context of the event. 4.1 describe possible application of the values for all stakeholders while 4.2 demonstrates how the values drive quality in a programme.

4.1. F.O.C.U.S. for everyone
Here are some other ways to look at FOCUS Adventure values beyond the official description and possible applications in our daily dealings. One will also notice how the values are interrelated with one another.

F.O.C.U.S for Everyone

FOCUS Adventure sells fun and fun is what we are good at. A fun culture makes time
spend in the office more enjoyable and exchanging banters is one easy way to close gaps.
Fun can also be applied when conversing with clients. It will make the exchange more
lighthearted and with it, easier to close ties.

Transparency is one of the easiest ways to build trust. We can
be open by telling and asking. Openness also covers the way
we think. In a diverse society, opinions are bound to differ.
Being open means seeing others’ outlook as an alternative
point of view, rather than a conflicting one. Every decision
we make should be based on context, thus, the right answer is
not always the right answer, if there’s such thing as right
answer in the first place.
Thinking with an open mind is one way of challenging our paradigm to allow evolvement
and at the end of the day, make better judgments.

Walt Disney – ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.’
Our growth is determined by the challenges we embark on.
Human are wired to seek comfort. Seeking challenges should
first start with seeing the big picture over the initial discomfort.
Walking into any unchartered territories will sure bring about
some blips and bumps but, whatever happens is an add on to
our knowledge pool.

We undertake many activities daily; some do more, while others do many more. When
doing what we are doing, do we understand the purpose of our actions? Understanding
and agreeing are correlated but not guaranteed. When one is working with understanding
and non-agreement, one is very likely complying. When there is both understanding and
agreement, commitment increases.

The most fundamental understanding we need is the understanding of the objective. How
we understand the objective will determine the approach we use. The objective is to
create an apple, but, it was understood as an oran ge. The approach is centered on making
an orange and the output at the end – orange.

A higher level of understanding is the understanding of everything as
a system. Everything we do is interrelated to something else some
one does. Whatever system we work within is a subset of another
system. By widening our understanding of the systems we work
within, it allows us to be ‘open’ and gain different perspectives on
the same matter.

Physiological safety is something we all know, psychological safety is something we tend
to over look. The environment we create, is it safe for people to be themselves, is it safe
for people to be ‘open’ and is it safe for everyone to have fun? When some deem unsafe,
it forces them to put on a mask unwillingly and narrow the communication channels to
one way.

4.2. F.O.C.U.S. for facilitators
A teambuilding programme is a system comprises of many elements and several subsystems. One good energizer will not compensate the lack of dialogue opportunities between participants and a fantastic final activity will not make up for the facilitator’s low energy level. Instead, it is the synergy of the different elements and entities that will decide whether it is a teambuilding programme, or is it a FOCUS ADVENTURE TEAMBUILDING PROGRAMME!

With so many different pieces to attend to, running a quality programme is not easy, well, it should not be! Using F.O.C.U.S. as a guideline will at least lead the programme towards the right direction and also, ensure consistency no matter who is running the show.

F.O.C.U.S for Facilitators

The FOCUS experience should be centered on the word fun: Fun in the activities and fun in the delivery.

How open is the communication channel between the facilitators and the participants? Is it facilitation? Or is it teaching?

How challenging the activities are structure will determine the level of learning the experience can yield. Too easy, teams will make no effort, too difficult, teams will give up. How effective an activity is depends on how solid the understanding of it is.

Understanding the need of the programme (objective) and the profile of the participants is the first step to any programme design. This understanding is also necessary to adjust the programme against the plan.

Field time and SA are correlated but not guaranteed. The higher a facilitator’s SA, the lower the likelihood of accidents. Safety in a programme is not limited to participants’ physiological state but, psychological state as well. Is the environment created safe enough for participants to voice their opinion, is it open enough for them to offer an alternative point of view.

Organizations values are created and designed to be purposeful and meaningful. The meanings will only be brought to life when they are implemented. In the mantra of ‘Open’, there is no fix way of utilizing F.O.C.U.S. How would apply your F.O.C.U.S today?

3. Senge, P.M., 2006. The Fifth Discipline: The arts & practice of the learning
organization. London: Random House Business Book
4. Kouzes, J.M. & Posner, B.Z., 2007. The Leadership Challenge. 4th ed. San
Fransico.:John Wiley & Sons.






Magic and Innovation – An Analogy

“Logic only gives man what he needs…Magic gives him what he wants.” – Tom Robbins

Magic defies the law of logic.

Logic is common sense. Through our common sense, we form a perception of how things should be, which in turn, shapes our basic expectation of how things should become. When things turn out the way they were meant to (in accordance with our own set of universal logic), common sense prevails and our expectations are met. So, if our intention is to not match but exceed expectations, then changes must be introduced to break or disrupt the pattern of logic and common sense.

People like changes; this is inherent in our nature. We enjoy things that are new and fresh, things that are different and exceed what we would normally expect. People like surprises. These are some of the reasons why magic is such a popular form of art.

So is Innovation a form of art or a scientific subject? The debate is endless. There are numerous ways to define and describe Innovation, and however it is explained, it surely has to involve the element of change.

Magic and Innovation are similar in many ways and both share many characteristic and descriptive. The main idea behind Magic is to surprise by presenting the unexpected. This is the same for the concept of Innovation. Innovation requires the outcome to be different, original, to shift away from the norms. It would be contradictory to claim an idea to be innovative when everyone knows what the outcome would be.

Another key feature both Magic and Innovation shares lies in the significance of the presentation. For all his fame and reputation, the tricks/effects performed by David Copperfield (perhaps the most wellknown magician/illusionist) are not very different from what lesser known illusionist others can do. The key difference is in the way David Copperfield presents his magic, in the form of storytelling combined with music and stage lighting. The same goes for Innovation. When a new idea is launched, the way it is package and presented will hugely influence how well it is accepted by the market. Sometimes, an idea can sell by itself, other times, it needs something extra to push the idea.

Here is a list of other similarities Magic and Innovation shares:

  1. ‘I can’t wait to see what is going to happen!’

Magic and Innovation get people excited because they are focus on the creation of something new. The though of experiencing something never seemed before excites people. The further the gap is between current reality and perceived change, the greater the excitement level. Remember the buzz the first Apple’s ipad creates before it was launched? Everyone was raving about how it would look like, what it can do and of course, how cool we will look carrying one around.

What really gets people excited is not so much the actual change, but, the gap between the now and the unknown future. Truth is, be it a trick or an innovative idea, the excitement only goes as far as the moment before all is revealed, when the unknown becomes the known. After a short while, everything becomes status quo. This is why it is more important for organizations to build an innovative culture rather than an innovative idea.

  1. Everything is possible! (Well, sort of).

‘‘When you think differently, magic happens’’ – Anonymous

In magic, everything is possible. Humans can fly and paper can turn into money. To innovate, we too need to start with a mindset of ‘everything is possible’. During the exploratory stage of any Innovation process, it is crucial that all ideas are considered as possibilities. Judgment has to be suspended, assumptions of how things usually work have to be challenged. By adopting an open mindset, we will allow ideas of all kinds, no matter how ridiculous they might sound, to generate, grow and synergize. At the end of the day, idea generation is a numbers game; the more ideas there are to work on, the higher the chances for success.

  1. They are deliberate, it doesn’t just happen!

By deliberate, we mean intentional. In other words, any trick starts with a magician wanting to perform a trick first and foremost. Without this intent, no trick will ever happen. Driven by intent, the magician will then work through the process of getting the trick ready.

Similarly with Innovation, all the most original ideas we have ever seen are not nature’s creation but are put together by people who want to contribute towards a novel ideal. Innovation does not just happen, it is driven by those who wants it. But, good intention alone is not enough. Innovation is too important for modern day organizations to leave it to just thoughts and desires. Intention must translate into action in order for ideas to materialize. Central to this transition is the Innovation structure used to facilitate the process.

  1. “One man’s magic is another man’s engineering’’ – Robert A. Heinlein

As much as Magic sometimes appears to be spontaneous, they are not. All tricks are carefully designed, calibrated and put together. In other words, they are by design and not by chance. Before a trick is performed, a magician goes through a 6-stage process, which consists of preparatory work and post performance review. Here is an overview of the process:

  1. Established performance type – ‘What do I want to make appear, disappear or change at the end?’, ‘where and who am I performing for?’
  2. Environment and equipment check – ‘Is the stage big enough?’, ‘Do I have the necessary equipment to perform this trick?’
  3. Planning – ‘How am I going to piece the performance together?’
  4. Practice and rehearsal – Dry-runs after dry-runs to perfect the performance.
  5. Actual presentation – The ‘Live’ performance.
  6. Post performance review – Identify area for improvements.

Likewise, Innovation is not from the sprinkling of magical dust, it is a process driven concept that goes through stages that are similar to Magic.

  1. Objective setting – What do we want to change or improve?
  2. Resource management – What kind of resources are available for us to work with?
  3. Planning stage – Now that we know what we are doing and what we are working with, how do we go about with the change?
  4. Development of idea– The process of modifying, adjusting and fine-tuning the idea.
  5. Implementation – Executing or delivering of the idea to the users.
  6. Feedback from users – To further improve the idea.

Seeing Innovation as a process allows us to approach the concept with a systematic point of view. By breaking the concept down into a series of sequential stages, it can better facilitate Innovation as we are able to move one step at a time instead of attempting a giant leap, which the word Innovation sometimes appear to suggest. And also, should things not go according to plan, we can trace through the different stages to identify where remedy is required.

  1. Harry Houdini was not born a Magician!

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Some of us might come into this world with characteristics that all fine Magician posses (e.g., nimble fingers, natural flair in entertaining, witty sense of humor) but no one is born with a card trick in his mouth. All Magicians, no matter how good they are, goes through a learning journey. Some find it easier, while others struggle. Whatever it is, the tricks and traits of any Magician can be acquired.

The same goes for people whom we considered to be Innovators. They are not born with a gamechanging, revolutionary idea. They most likely go through a learning journey that span decades, filled with plenty of trials and errors, possibly met more failures than success, before achieving something that make us ranked them as a true innovators. The point here is, Innovation is a proficiency that anyone can have as long as they are willing to learn

  1. ‘This trick looks familiar, haven’t I seen it before?’

There are many ways to learn Magic tricks. One of the most effective ways is to learn directly from others and from there, make it better than the original. So, instead of reinventing the wheels, we strengthen it.

Likewise, innovative ideas do not have to come from a complete novelty; it can come from the redevelopment of a current idea. We can either take a vertical approach by improving or refining the idea (doing it better), or, we can adopt a laterally approach by applying the principles of one idea to another seemingly unrelated idea (doing it different). Take a moment and think of the 3 most innovative ideas you have ever come across. Chances are, they have their roots in some earlier innovation.






LMX theory proposes that leaders develop different type of relationship with members and do not treat everyone equally. Understanding how the different relationships are formed provides insight on how leaders and members influence each other. Relationship between leaders and members are group into high-quality (in-group) or low-quality (out-group).

The characteristics of an in-group:

  1. Counted on to perform unstructured task
    2. Volunteer for extra work
    3. Take on additional responsibilities
    4. More influence in decision making
    5. Leader assign more resources to members
    6. Leader display more attention and support

The characteristic of an out-group:

  1. Formal relationship
    2. ‘just here to do a job’
    3. Given little support
    4. Minimal influence in decision making
    5. Less responsibilities
    6. Low level of trust

Leadership = Fairness?

LMX theory is proposed to challenge the notion that leaders treat everyone the same. In reality, no relationships are equal. A leader will consciously (deliberate) and unconsciously (unknowing) treat some better than others.

Conscious – Leaders knowingly treat some better to improve job satisfaction and performance. In the real world, a leader does not have the resources to give each of his member equal attention. Through a series of exchanges, certain members are identified as ones who will produce more than others. These members are then given more attention and resources, and in return, produces more for the leader/organization. It is here that leaders find leverage, concentrating on a few members who could influence the rest of the team.

Unconscious – People like people who are liked them. If both leader and member share the same personality, most probably, they would enjoy each others company and spend more time together. The more time spent, the more exchanges take place, the better the relationship. The problem with this form of unconscious exchanges is that, blinded by ‘likeness’, the leader might inadvertently and unconsciously make decisions that favors some over others. When questioned by others, the ignorant leader might turn defensive and reject any notion of biasness and this put the leader’s credibility at stake.

3 Relationship Factors

Competency, Compatibility and Personality – these are the 3 main factors that determines the quality of relationship between leaders and members. Competency – Members past accomplishments, current performance level and potential.

Compatibility – How well leader and members work together. Fit between the member and the team culture.

Personality – Initiative, positive attitude and outlook

Positive perception of these factors will see member fall under the ‘in-group’; members who are viewed negatively moves to the ‘out-group’.

Members are not the only one being evaluated in this relationship, leaders too are evaluated and members have the choice to accept the ‘invitation’ into the group or not. It is obvious why members aspire to be in the high-quality relationship in-group, but, there are also various reasons why members would not be keen:

  1. Genuinely dislike the leader
    2. Do not value the rewards of being in the ‘in-group’
    3. Leader is abusive or unethical; being close to such a person may imply guilt by association.
    4. No interest in advancing further in current company
    5. Just want to do what is required.

Taking, Making and Routinization

The relationship develops over time, through a series of exchanges and interactions, and the formative period is the most crucial. According to the theory, the development of role is the corner stone of the relationship forming process. This process consists of 3 phases:

  1. Role Taking (Stranger phase) – A formal stage in the relationship where the leader assesses the member’s abilities and talent. Leader defines clear responsibilities and member does what is prescribed.
  2. Role Making (Acquaintance phase) – Based on the works in the 1st phase, either party will initiate an offer to improve the working relationship. Relationship (trust) will develop both professionally and personally. It is this stage where member start to ‘make’ their own role.
  3. Role Routinization (Maturity) – Exchange patterns start to emerge in a reciprocal manner.

Benefits for All (even the out-group)

4 stakeholders (Leader, In-group Member, Out-group Member, and Organization) are involved in this theory and here are the benefits each group can draw:

Leader and Organization:

  1. Member commitment
    2. Loyalty towards leader, team
    3. Higher productivity
    4. Positive influence on others
    5. Find leverage

Members of the in-group:

  1. Higher mutual trust
    2. Closer bond
    3. Independence
    4. Job satisfaction, positive attitude
    5. Open communication
    6. Confidence
    7. Respect, rewards & recognition

Out-group member:

  1. Examine reasons for being in the out-group and question the ‘fit’ between self, leader and organization.
    2. Identify improvement gaps.

Critique Vs Support

Like any management theories and models, there is always a fair share of supporters and opposition. Those in a favor of what LMX theorize say it reflects reality – people will never treat everyone equally. And also, LMX advocates leverage. Resources are scarce, thus, leaders are always looking for best ways to maximize what they have.

For those against what the theory proposes, the arguments are that it discriminates, it questions the ethics of the leader and lastly, LMX emphasize too much on the leader instead of the leadership.


No relationships are equal. LMX theory reflects the reality in leadership and organization – leaders treat people differently; some will be treated better than others. Most, if not all, members would like to fall under the in-group for obvious reasons, but, the presence of out-group also serves many benefits: for the leader, if members prefer to stay in the out-group, perhaps the question is on his leadership. For those who are in the out-group, the reasons they are there could help them identify performance gaps to work on, or, it could be the case of non-fit between themselves and the leadership. In the latter case, perhaps moving on to another organization where they are more likely to be in the in-group could be better for everyone.

For leaders and in-group members, this model represents a winwin situation. With the leader is a group of individuals who exceeds expectations, and for the individuals, more opportunities to develop themselves. Over time, the leader-member exchanges feed on each other and result in an upward spiral for the leader, the members and organization.







‘Majestic Cinematography’, ‘Magnificent Directing’, ‘Masterful Production’. These are just some of the common terms we often see splashed on magazine reviews and movie posters when a film is out. Sometimes, we will catch that film just because so-and-so said the movie was ‘Brilliantly Directed’. But, the truth is, how many of us actually understand and truly appreciate the art of cinematography and directing amongst others? When someone picks up a ‘Best Director’ award, do we really know what he was acknowledged for?


This ignorance is the reason why I pick up the book ‘Quintessential Tarantino’. The book provides an in-depth analysis of all Quentin Tarantino works. For those who have no idea who he is, Quentin Tarantino is a director/producer, fame for genre breaking films like ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2’.


While seeking to understand the art of movie making, I discovered a number of similarities between FOCUS programmes and Tarantino’s films. Some of the elements that made his films such a standout share very similar traits with several aspect of our program. In this write-up, I will attempt to draw the connections I discovered while reading the book and the limited field time I have running programs. If you have not watch any of the film I will be referencing from in this article, you will have to use a little of your imagination.




In Pulp Fiction, the movie begun with a robbery in a diner and it ended with the same scene. Kill Bill Vol. 1 started with the scene of a smashed-up Beatrix (Uma Thurman) and Bill shooting her in the head. Vol. 2 ended with Beatrix taking her revenge on Bill. The element of circularity in both films is very similar to our program’s Expectation Setting. When the expectations are checked out at the end of the program, the feeling of fulfilment is very similar to the feeling one gets after watching Beatrix kills Bill. You can say the same about Pulp Fiction when audiences get to finally find out the fate of the robbers.



Reusing Element from other Works – Scene, Actors, Film Structure…


Any avid Tarantino fan can easily identify repeated elements in all of his films. Ranging from the obvious (casting: Uma Thurman, Michael Madsen) to the subtle (Uma Thurman suddenly waking up from a coma  in Kill Bill echoes her waking up from a overdose in Pulp Fiction). The rationale is to arouse the interest of the audience, giving them something to think about and discuss.


In our program, we do not reuse, instead we reinforce. For example, using Whale-Watch and referencing it to the Tuckman’s Model. On the topic of change, we can draw similarities between Key Punch and the ‘Yellow Ball’ from Trolley. We can also do the same with Helium Hula and Trolley on the topic of cooperation Vs competition. When we are able to draw out linkages between different activities, I believe it will present a stronger point for discussions.



Implied Action and Off Screen Violence


The ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs, Marvin’s head exploding behind the car in Pulp Fiction and the fate of Elle in the trailer in Kill Bill Vol. 2. The use of implied action allows audience participation in a film to a greater extent than if they actually see the events. By ensuring that certain elements have to be played out in viewers’ minds rather than on screen, Tarantino is able to play with audience imagination. Sometimes, the images audience conjure up are far more realistic and disturbing than any special effect.


In FOCUS, the room between the instructions and final objectives is almost the same as implied actions. It brings about greater involvement and sometimes, the ideas participants conjure up are far more imaginative than we could ever think of.


The same applies to debriefing. Ending a topic or subject with an open ended statement, rather than painting them the entire ideal situation will allow participants to draw personal linkages to their work experience. Something which they might not want to share, or, we are not able to relate to.


Music to Augment Scenes


This technique is used in every film. In Kill Bill, it was used very consistently. Every time Kiddo comes eye to eye with someone on her revenge list, the same music will be played. It changes the tempo and raises the excitement level before the fight begins.


Similarly, in FOCUS, music has always been a great assistant to the program. Just like how it changes the tempo in the movies, it adds excitement to our activity. And at times, it sure helps to amplify certain behaviours which we planned to bring out (Helium Hula). The same relation can be drawn in the use of lightings.


Nicknames and Alias


In Reservoir Dogs, all the main characters are named after colours (Mr Pink, Mr White, Mr Brown…). In Kill Bill everyone in the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad has a snake related alias as well. The use of nicknames and alias provides effective character definition. It creates more interest and the name stays longer in the mind of the audiences.


These reasoning are pretty much the same in FOCUS. A team name provides stronger definition and more importantly, tighter association compared to numbers. Similarly, it creates more interest and compared to numbers, a name definitely stays in the mind longer.


It seems attending a FOCUS programme is not very different from a cinematic experience. Through the relations I drew, we can see many similarities. Perhaps, there are many more which I have yet to discover. So the question is: how can we all relate to this? As a learning organization, continuous improvement is just one of the many directions we are heading. We seek not only self-progress, but progress as an organization and improvement in our programmes is something we look for amongst other. The common angles we often look at are ‘what do we think the participants want’ and ‘what do we think will benefit the participants’.   Here, I am suggesting another angle – let’s view our programme as a cinematic experience.


So, what can we do? Pick our favourite film, any film for that matter, and ask ourselves why we love it so much. Break the reasons down to elements and consider how they can be incorporated to improve our programme.  The improvement or change need not be wholesale. If it is able to better a programme or an activity just that little bit, I guess it is worth the effort.