Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Risk-Taking on Order

Through Tomorrow, the Bulletin of Singapore Bloggers, I came across this blog entry by Gary, an American who spent a year here in Singapore. In it, he reflected on his experience here even as he packs to move on somewhere else.

While he conceded that Singapore is "every bit a miracle", he felt that we were just too boringly predictable, orderly and compliant.

This is not exactly a very new observation since our leaders have specifically set themselves to work on making us more innovative and less risk-averse. In schools, we have been talking about Innovation and Enterprise. So, in true Singapore-style, we have made this our national agenda.

Is it too early to tell if we will ever succeed with this tried and tested top-driven method? Or is it time to be innovative even in tackling this? But to chose the latter would mean taking a risk - risk that it might backfire, risk that it might create an unexpected mess. In some sense, we seem to be bounded by our very own success, even as we grapple with the realities of the new creative economy.

Setting up Pauseability has been my own learning about taking risk. It has been a mix of exhilaration, doubts and simply not knowing. Could I have learned as much if I had stayed on within the system? Perhaps the opportunities to do so have increased but my guess is that it would still have been different.

Interacting with the people who paused by the shop has also been instructive. Most of them have found it quite inconceivable that they are just to play and create with the provided materials without specific instructions given. Some of them said that this is just how the pragmatic Singaporeans are. Or is this just a universal aversion to uncertainty? I hope that many will find Pauseability a good "laboratory" to experience a little risk-taking, creativity and even a little chaos; to learn to see possibilities.

Creativity, risk-taking, even a little chaos are what have been said to be needed to have that je ne sais quoi in our city so that we can surge ahead. On first impression, these things do not appear to be able to happen by order but perhaps in our truly unique way, we will prove that it can. It is just that we will need to succeed real fast.

And here is a good example of not getting caged in. Clever idea eh?

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