The 5th Educators’ Summit centered on how technology-driven innovation and creating emotional buy-in from stakeholders are vital parts of human capital development for real growth and success.
“My presentation today is going to be a warning that Singapore will become irrelevant in 20 years,” was how Vincent Chin, CEO of the global management consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group (SEA) opened his talk.
Chin was among the business leaders from both public and private sector organizations who shared ideas and insights on strategies in people engagement, management and innovation at the the 5th Educators’ Summit 2013 held on March 15 at the NTUC Centre Auditorium.
Organized by impactus! which hosts business conferences and learning journeys with the aim of broadening perspectives on talent management and employing innovation to promote engagement and drive business success, the event saw a turnout of over 500 attendees comprising educators and public sector professionals.
Speaking on why innovation has to stay relevant with the times, Chin pointed out that while education costs have increased dramatically, the learning experience has not improved correspondingly. In order for higher costs to be justified, spending on education needs to be channeled into improving accessibility to education as well as technological upgrades to enhance learning experiences.
Chin quoted statistics which showed that while worldwide education spending has reached a staggering S$2 trillion per year, less than three percent is actually being dedicated to technology.
Naming the free online educational website Khan Academy (which offers 4,000 micro lecturers via video tutorials on mathematics, history, finance, medicine, physics and many other subjects) and Coursera, which partners with top universities around the world to bring education to millions around the globe as examples, Chin stated that online learning is the future of education.
With that, he encouraged more investments into technologies that enhance learning. Massive online open courses (MOOC), which comprise virtual learning environments characterized by large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web, exemplifies technological progression that brings the best of both the online and offline onto a single platform.
Hence, the field of education, or human capital development, will need to embrace technological developments to keep itself relevant; in other words, continuous innovation is imperative.
Besides Chin, featured speakers include Kendal Jolly, a business program facilitator from Walt Disney, Julian Persuad, CEO of Google (SEA), Ben Lightfoot, CEO of advertising agency McCann Worldgroup and Wong Su-Yen, CEO of human resource company Mercer (ASEAN). Topics shared ranged from the use of social media for engagement to Google’s best practices on promoting a culture of innovation.
Jolly shared about Disney’s unconventional approach to creativity and innovation in driving its long-term business success—most of us are acquainted with at least one of Disney’s many colorful characters, surely. Instead of solely focusing on the usual key performance indicators or measurable business metrics, the organization aims to provide their guests with a great experience. Satisfied customers will, in turn, provide personal recommendations to their friends.
To ensure that customer satisfaction becomes an every day affair at Disney’s numerous theme parks, there needs to be “cast excellence”—a culture where every employee feels like he or she is part of the bigger, common goal. While most businesses are not built around the magic of story-telling like Disney’s is, the skill of story-telling is fast becoming a critical leadership tool for gaining emotional buy-in from both employees and stakeholders to effectively navigate today’s competitive business landscape. Whether it is for the purpose of engaging customers or employees, a business’ success depends greatly on being able to command attention.
Dishing out six key elements for better story-telling, Jolly shared that every great story needs a great structure: a strong beginning, middle, and end, with Cinderella being cited as an example. There has to be a good flow: a set-up, action, outcome, and the lesson to be learned, like in Beauty And The Beast. Then, there needs to be dynamic tension: conflict, suspense, expectancy and competitiveness, just like in Toy Story. Characters should build trust, and incite a feeling of passion and belief, such as Disney’s very mascot, Mickey Mouse. The tone of the story should not be undermined—to bring life to a story, the tone adopted can be sincere or candid, boasting both highs and lows. Finally, decide on a “mood” and anchor your story on this one theme, be it inspirational, motivational, transformational or others.
A good story moves the listener, resonates with him or her, and can be retold by anyone. Not only does it set an example for others to follow, it also creates relationships, and sparks off excitement and enthusiasm.
But it was not all talk; the organizers sprung a few “innovative” surprises on the participants with a stand-up comedy by Dr Low Lee Yong, CEO of medical care company MHC Asia Group, a Bollywood dance item by the National University of Singapore Dance troupe, as well as an entertaining sing-along session.