EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION: LEARNING FROM EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTERS
2018/2019, Semester 2
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (Lee Kuan Yew School Of Public Policy)
Modular Credits: 4
LEARNING FROM EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTERS
2018/2019 Semester 2
Lim Siong Guan
Mondays: 2 – 5 PM
Office Hours: TBA and at other times by appointment
There are many more good ideas than there are good ideas implemented. This occurs for many reasons, including that the idea was untimely; it was the wrong idea for that situation; external events and obstacles overcame the implementation; or resources were insufficient. But it may be that no one sufficiently worked to implement the idea, to stay with it, to put it into practice, to "make it happen." Most of us can think back to ideas that we or others have had that may have been genuinely good ideas about how to approach a problem differently and more effectively, or to change the way that an agency does business. How many of these good ideas have been implemented? How many have gotten lost in the details of everyday life? How many would have genuinely made a difference, but remain unimplemented?
There are many factors in successful implementation: timing, strategy, luck, and the appropriate external environment, to name some. But a key factor is the operating style of the implementer. Since that is the factor that is potentially most under our control, this is what we will focus on: managing the instrument of self towards an objective. We look at managing self not because self is the most important variable in the equation of effectiveness, but because it is the variable that is closest to us. This course will consist of a guided and case informed conversation about some traits of persons who have been demonstrably effective at translating ideas into action.
The objective of the course is to have each of us become more effective in the public service and public policy arena, to raise the probability that what we say we want to make happen in that arena actually does happen.
This class does not aim to help you be a better person (we assume high moral standing and generosity) or to fix you in some general fashion. It aims to have you begin the work of having specific tangible goals and of raising the likelihood that these goals will be met and that public value will be added.
The premise of the course is that there are issues that are larger than self-interest, that making tangible progress on those issues is worth working at, and that if we are to raise the likelihood that tangible progress towards improvement on these issues is to take place, we will have to manage our self toward that goal.
Being an effective implementer does not fall neatly into a leadership theme or a management theme. John Kotter makes the distinction between the two: “…leadership and
management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action.
” An effective implementer will use characteristics of good leadership and of good management as is appropriate in various situations.
In each class, we will address at least one trait that is related to effective implementation. For purposes of focus, the traits are grouped as
Integrity & Values
Team & Collaboration
Communication & Engagement
Honour & Honouring
Imagination & Innovation
Tenacity & Resourcefulness
Courage & Self-confidence, and
Humility in learning and success.
Life, of course, is never as neat as to allow such classification, and many different lessons on effective management of self can be drawn from each reading. Nevertheless, having a core attribute to focus on in each class will help us cover the ground more effectively. While the case examples show a complex person in a complex situation, we wish to isolate particular characteristics.
We will study varied aspects of many personalities, including Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Keng Swee among Singapore’s founding leaders, Jack Ma of Alibaba, Steve Jobs of Apple Computers, Tadashi Yanai of Uniqlo, Ek Sonn Chan of Cambodia, Deng Xiaoping of China, and Mahatma Gandhi of India. From each, as well as the many other readings covering others, we can learn multiple aspects of successful leadership.
Regretfully, there are fewer written examples of women than of men asserting themselves in a direct fashion. As Jill Ker Conway says, “
with a very few conservative exceptions, the ultimate taboo for females remaining (is) the quest for power in one’s own right, rather than the behind-the-scenes ‘influence’ with which modern readers are comfortable.”
I use examples that I could find and welcome your suggestion of other readings.
In the end, we shall ask to what extent a person who is an effective implementer knows and can name what they are trying to accomplish, utilizes relentlessness, understands their own definitions of success, handles criticism, deals with setbacks and defeats, deals with fear, works with others, builds a support network, develops and uses momentum, is at times courageous, seeks help, and disciplines himself or herself to achieve objectives.
You will all, I am sure, subsequently be operating in a variety of cultures. Culture, for us in this course, is defined as the set of norms regarding expected and valued behaviour. Your operating culture will expect and reward and be challenged by different kinds of behaviours. Yet certain behaviours in every culture are more likely to lead to effective implementation than other behaviours. We – you and I – are working together to identify those individuals and behaviours that are more likely to produce results.
Utilizing the cases and other readings
You are being asked to read the case and other materials in order to extract the pertinent lessons from the way in which the main character(s) have operated. What is it about their operating style that makes the person(s) effective? This kind of reading looks for the story about the person(s), it reads between the lines, it is interpretive, and it is reflective.
PLEASE NOTE: OTHER READINGS MAY BE ADDED BEFORE THE COURSE BEGINS AND DURING THE COURSE.
This site will be used for students to submit class material, and to make announcements, share information, and continue discussions. I strongly encourage students to read the submissions of others and to react and build on them. You must check the site regularly to maintain vital contact with the course.
Summary of what is required in this course
Do the preparatory work.
Go thoughtfully through the materials for each class.
Come to class, pay attention, express your views, argue your positions, ask pertinent questions.
Attendance, and class and group participation, will be monitored.
Meet with me in office hours, as helpful to you.
Submit by Friday of Week 2, a brief statement as to why you are taking this class, what it is that you want to learn from it, to take away, and to make part of your operating DNA. State also what is the challenge or situation in your work place which you want to solve or improve on. If you cannot identify such a challenge or situation, you will find producing The Game Plan (See Section (2) below.) difficult to complete. Your submission should not exceed 300 words. You will not receive feedback on this. Submit directly to me via email.
Meet with me one-on-one over Week 4 and Week 5; while it is optional, you are strongly recommended to also see me over Week 11 and Week 12 to discuss your draft final work, the Game Plan.
Submit four times to course website class discussions IVLE Forum (See Section (3) below.). This process begins with class #3, which means putting in your submission by 6 pm of the day before the class. You can choose which classes you wish to make submissions on, but two must be before the recess and two after the recess. Submissions must not exceed 200 words; if you exceed, only the first 200 words will be read and graded.
Beginning from Week 4, you will participate once in a group to lead the discussion for that week. Sign up into a group by Week 3 and be an active member of the group.
The Game Plan
Keep ongoing written notes to yourself about what lessons you need to learn and how you propose to teach these to yourself. It will be very useful for your final work.
You must gather the lessons of your own history as you go through the course: “How did I act in similar situations? What did I do well? Realistically, how might I have done better? What are the lessons that I would like to take forward?”
This note-taking exercise, of a kind that works for you (perhaps it is a journal), is to be utilized so that you can better understand yourself and then act in ways that improve how you choose goals and manage yourself towards them more effectively.
The sole audience for your note-taking should be you. The more you keep up with the note-taking throughout the course, the easier you will find it to write out the Game Plan.
Submit a first draft of your Managing Self Game Plan by the Friday of Week 10 by emailing directly to me. The Game Plan are the lessons that you will take with you into the future with a focus on the implementation of a solution or improvement for a challenge or situation in your place of work. Meet with me to discuss your draft sometime in the following two weeks, if you wish to.
Submit a second and final version of your Game Plan by the Friday of Week 14 via IVLE Files (Workbin). Your submission will not be shared with others in the class. The submission should be 1,000-1,500 words, typed out in Times New Roman Font Size 12. You will find it useful to compose and express your thoughts by generally following the format rules – no sentence to be longer than 3 lines, and no paragraph to contain more than 3 sentences.
Your Game Plan is the pragmatic, realistic strategy that you will use to manage yourself in the challenge or situation you have identified which you want to solve or improve. It is based on who you are and what you want to achieve. Your set of lessons, as you go forward, is to be supported by either your notes to yourself, or your summary of these notes to yourself.
In The Game Plan you will describe the importance of knowing yourself as it pertains to you personally – your strengths, what you want to accomplish, why you have chosen those goals, your values, your patterns and inclinations, and the ways in which you may sabotage yourself (We all do!) if you are to deliver what you propose to deliver. Bear in mind the purpose of the Game Plan is to elicit what has been important to you personally, what you have learnt in the course as well as from elsewhere, and how you are going to apply the lessons in real situations, in particular for the challenge and situation you have identified.
This need not be a long paper. But it should be clear, concise, and self-directive.
Submissions to the course website
Each student will respond in writing to one or more of the focusing questions attached to the readings, and do this four times during the course. Students will submit written material (150-200 words – shorter is better) to the course IVLE website Forum by 6 pm the day before class day on four of the course topics, beginning with Week 3. You may choose which of the weekly classes you wish to submit your written views on, but please do any two or more in the first half of the course and any two or more in the second half. If you submit more than two in either half of the course, the best two of your submissions will be counted for grades. Responses on the website are public; you are strongly encouraged to read, react to, and build upon the responses of your classmates. Each class will begin from the written views and responses.
Students will participate in work groups designated “A” onwards, with no less than 3 members in each group. Groups will meet weekly to discuss the readings and their implications. It is the responsibility of the group to find a mutually convenient time and place to meet each week. Groups will take turns to initiate the class conversations, one group for each session, beginning with Group A in Week 5.
The group will lead the class for half the session, the objective being to help the class distil the major lessons for the week. Students have generally found their group work very helpful in drawing out lessons and applying them to different situations.
NUS and the LKY School regard academic integrity as a very important value. To avoid giving the impression that you are passing off other people’s work as your own, you will need to acknowledge conscientiously the sources of information, ideas, and arguments used in any of your assignments. In order to understand what counts as plagiarism and why it is wrong, students at the LKY School take the NUS online module on Academic Culture during the Orientation Programme and would have formally acknowledged that they had understood the contents. Students who would like an introduction to the different referencing styles can refer to the following website, among others:
You will be required to submit all written assignments that are uploaded on IVLE for
. In particular, your Game Plan is to be submitted via IVLE Files (Workbin).
The major criterion for assigning grades is whether you had a specific plan for moving yourself in the direction that you want to take. Aspiration must be combined with a set of specific steps of how you will go about raising the probability that what you want to make happen in meeting a specific challenge or situation, will happen. These specific steps are your Game Plan.
You will also be graded on class participation and on your submissions to the course web site, including your reactions to the submissions of your classmates.
Unexcused class absence or repeated unexplained lateness will result in the loss of a grade level, e.g, from a B+ to a B.
Final grades will be determined as follows:
20% Class participation: contributions to learning during the class.
% Helpfulness to the class and other students in submissions to the course website and reactions to the submissions.
60% Final Paper, the Game Plan:
5% Quality of writing
10% What you want to change or improve at work, and why
15% How you propose to bring the change about and what will be your major challenges in doing so
15% How what you propose to do is different from how you would have done things in the past.
15% How things may go wrong and how you will deal with them
You will find it most helpful to lay out the format of your Game Plan in the order outlined above.
Please note that the number of “A” grades is limited in accordance with NUS policy. Grades are important to you, but I hope that the pursuit of grades does not interfere with your learning. It is this last – your learning – that is most important.
Some relevant thoughts:
“The recalling of lessons we have learnt is ... part of responsible living”
Letters And Papers From Prison
, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, p 3
“The first of these legacies is simply his (Gandhi’s) strong belief that all people can shape and guide their lives according to the highest ideals, no matter how insignificant and powerless they might feel themselves to be. Gandhi lived his life, from childhood on, as someone convinced that his decisions about how to live mattered and that he had the power to make those decisions conform to what he believed right."
Gandhi, An Autobiography
, Mohandas K. Gandhi p xvii, Sissela Bok
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Attributed to Aristotle
“Let the (student), where we are equally confident, stride on with me; where we are equally puzzled, pause to investigate with me; where he finds himself in error, come to my side; where he finds me erring, call me to his side. So we may keep to the path, in love, as we fare on… Press on...”
The Trinity, St. Augustine, as quoted in
, p. xiv, Garry Wills, Penguin, NY, NY. 1999.
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is bitterest.”
“He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him.
He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child. Teach him.
He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep. Wake him.
He who knows, and knows that he knows, is a leader. Follow him.”
Attributed to Omar Khayam, 13th century philosopher
Written by Herself
, “Introduction,” pp. vii-xiii. Jill Ker Conway, ed. 1992, Vintage Books.
What Leaders Really Do
, John P. Kotter, p. 51, Harvard Business Review Press, 1999.
Workload Components : A-B-C-D-E
A: no. of lecture hours per week
B: no. of tutorial hours per week
C: no. of lab hours per week
D: no. of hours for projects, assignments, fieldwork etc per week
E: no. of hours for preparatory work by a student per week