Saturday, November 29, 2014

Singaporeans' No U-Turn Syndrome & Being Screwed by It

* Sim Wong Hoo's NUTS writeup at end of blogpost.

Besides the heart ware shortcomings mentioned in my earlier blogpost being a liability plaguing the workforce, Sim Wong Hoo has pointed out to the just follow rules blindly syndrome in his book 'Chaotic Thoughts from the Old Millennium' published in 1999.

I only hold of his book in 2003 when i went to Creative's Warehouse Sale at its premises. His observation of this NUTS (No U-Turn Syndrome) is considered ahead of his time before the wave of outsourcing hit the country. It is a couple of years later in 2007 that a local movie 'Just Follow Law' got made that depicted the huge liability in a comical way in an attempt to drive the point home.

Being Obedient, Shut Up & Follow Instructions Will Get One 'Killed' Faster
Unfortunately we can see from the last couple of years the middle income earners are getting hit harder & harder as the hybrid regime replace them with cheaper foreign workers to increase profits. Social costs? Nevermind as profits is more important.

The hybrid regime just wants to staff its corpserations with 'Just follow instructions & do'. Remember what the leader of bus drivers who organised the strike in 2012 said clearly. The first labor strike after 26 years.


Being obedient, shut up & just follow instructions is the utmost trait the hybrid regime looks for in its govt-linked companies. I've blogged an example last year in Bus Driver Punished for Using Initiative to Correct Mistake.

If those sheep workers think being obedient & following instructions is the best way to have a job & get ahead, they are deluding themselves as well. Those dumb sheep following instructions blindly(NUTS) receive a complaint published in the mainstream newspaper - Dangerous Cog Labor Mentality - Inflexibility (blogpost)

  • Being a obedient sheep following instructions blindly - die.
  • Not being a dumb sheep but acting with initiative - also die.

That's how fucked up the working culture in those govt-linked corpserations & some parts of the private sector.

Highly Schooled. Not Highly Educated
I consider the locals as being highly schooled instead of being highly educated. We have highly schooled taxi drivers, financial planners & property agents who are previously middle income earners like managers.

The reason i say schooled is because we are trained in many years of school from young & national service(for guys) to be like a docile sheep.

An excellent sheep. Being slapped repeated by boss also no resistance.
Hybrid regime loves to produce this type of sheep workers.

Left Brain Activities Getting Slaughtered Nowadays
Why bother to pay more for a dumb sheep worker who just follow instructions & do?
Now with Google, why bother to pay more for a dumb sheep worker who graduate mainly by memorizing answers?

Why need so many highly schooled workers with their higher salaries when computers are getting more & more intelligent? Computers/robots can follow instructions & execute faster without toilet break or sleep than those dumb sheep workers.

Got cheaper sheep(from overseas) to hire?
If no cheaper sheep, then can automate it?

Docile sheep workers proved to be a great strategy in propelling the country out of 3rd world status as what Sim Wong Hoo has written. Now the country is so heavily laden with docile sheep workers that it is impeding the progress of the country. We have no homegrown heavyweight companies(govt-linked companies don't count) & now casinos as a desperate measure.

NUTS Syndrome by Sim Wong Hoo in 1999
In the US, when there is no sign on the road, it means that you can make a U-turn. When the authority don't want people to make U-turns, they will put up signs to tell you not to make U-turns.

In SG, it is the reverse. When there is no sign on the road, you are not allowed to make U-turns. When the authority allow you to make U-turns, then they will put up signs to give you that right.

The 2 different systems serve the same purpose - to better manage the traffic. They may look quite similar, just coming from different direction, but the social repercussion is significant.

In SG, the no U-turn without sign culture has permeated every level of our thinking & every segment of our life. This no U-turn culture has created a way of life that is based on rules. When there is a U-turn sign or when there is a rule, we can U-turn. When there is no sign, we cannot U-turn. When there is no rule, we cannot do anything. We become paralyzed.

I call this 'no-rule = no-do' phenomenon - the 'No U-turn Syndrome' or NUTS.

SG has prospered under a rule-based system for many years. When we were at a lower level of development, we needed many multinational companies to come to SG to invest. What these MNCs needed were a very reliable group of managers & workers who could follow exactly the rules set by the corporate HQ overseas. Since they didn't want their overseas subsidiaries to innovate anything, they wanted us to stick closely to the rules, no funny deals, no crazy ideas. They were here to teach us, not to listen to ideas from us.

The efficiency & no-nonsense style of the SG govt is well-known. It has brought us prosperity & a good life. A rule-based system is essential here too to get everybody to toe the line.

But the world has changed. And it is changing faster & faster. So fast that the rules that were set yesterday are no longer valid & cannot serve our new needs. It is not a matter of setting new rules to meet the new situation because by the time new rules are formulated, they would already be out of date. It is a matter of how to survive & prosper in environments when there are no rules. It is a matter of how to live with ambiguity. Things are no more black or white, things are in shades of gray. How do we deal with them?

What is NUTS? NUTS is when you want to do something & you seek the approval of a higher authority. When there is no rule saying you can do such a thing, then the standard answer is NO.

What's wrong with this? There's nothing wrong if we choose to be stuck in the old world of your own where nothing changes.

To meet the challenge of the new world, to meet the challenge of rising to a knowledge-based economy, we have to innovate like mad. How can we innovate when we need to obey rules to innovate. Innovate means to create things out of nothing, it means moving into uncharted territories where there are no rules.

How can you innovate when you have to get the approval of somebody who looks at a rule-book first? Such is the syndrome of NUTS.

NUTS is everywhere in society including schools, offices, hospitals, parks, factories & even in our homes. Yes, in Creative (SG) too.

--- 5 examples of NUTS (dumb sheep) omitted ---

We are moving faster & faster into many uncharted territories, where there are no rules. We don't want to be paralyzed by waiting for the rule to be formulated before moving - it will be too late. We have to discard our NUTS mentality & learn to live in a new world where there are no clear rules. Not that it will be a cowboy lawless land. There will be broad guiding principles such as common goals, objectives & basic integrity to follow. The rest, we have to look at the big picture & decide what is the best way to do a job, to achieve our goals.

Sim Wong Hoo has experiences with these dumb sheep workers who just follow instructions blindly. Experiences which leaves him frustrated & can 'vomit blood'. I've left out the 5 examples he wrote as it would be too long. You can read about his examples by borrowing his book from the library.

There's other interesting nuggets of his thoughts as well in his book.

- Absence of Creativity in S'pore
Recent comment by Cagey Ten made me relook what i've written 4 years ago about dumb sheep aka cog labor. Shit! Is exactly as he said.
"written 4 years ago - it is still the same 4 years later, and it has been this way the (X times 4) years before that!"- Cagey Ten
That's why the hybrid regime needs to be voted out in order to reform the education system.

1 comment:

  1. Long time ago, I was at KLCC (Twin Towers) when I overheard a group of people speaking. The girl said, "Can we eat here?" I concluded she must be a Sinkie.