Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The MINDEF Innovation Programme

A Report on the Strategies
that Built an Innovative Ministry of Defence, Singapore,
and the Singapore Armed Forces, 2002 to 2007


The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has long been recognised as a forward looking agency that leads change in the public sector. In 2001, the Ministry decided to embark on her biggest transformation to meet the demands of the 3rd Generation Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) or the ‘3G SAF’ [1]. The Ministry had identified innovation as the key enabler in this transformation and aggressively pursuit its application to achieve her new goal. The MINDEF Innovation and Transformation Office and the MINDEF Innovation Programme were conceived to realise this single objective.

In three phases, the programme uncovered the big picture, searched for the missing pieces, and prescribed the key approaches for change in an organisation of about 60,000 strong. The programme was able to identify the propensity to innovate in the way the Ministry organised, managed and renewed herself, and used these as leverages to initiate and manage the change in a planned fashion through ‘Jumpstart’. The change was strategically driven at the top but left significant space at the ground for emergent innovations to reach the support structures created by the Innovation Resourcing Framework called ‘RACE’.

This report is a record of the activities that had taken place between 2002 and 2007, during which the programme was been executed by the author.


1. Background

1.1 The Defence Management Group [2] (DMG), or what was used to be the Defence Administration Group (DAG), was one of the three defence groups in the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). The other two groups were the Defence Policy Group (DPG) and Defence Technology and Research Organisation (DTRO). The key function of DMG was to develop key management and administrative policies for MINDEF and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), see to their introduction, adoption, diffusion, administration, management, review and renewal.

1.2 The author
[3] was transferred to DMG on January 2001 and engaged in 2002 by Mr Lim Hup Seng, the Deputy Secretary for Defence (Administration) at MINDEF at that time, to assist DMG, MINDEF and the SAF become more innovative. This request was a DMG response to a government level initiative to make the Civil Service capable of meeting the challenges of globalisation, which was a new agility driver for the Government in the 21st Century, through the ideals of Public Service 21 (PS21) [4]:

a. to nurture an attitude of service excellence in meeting the needs of the public with high standards of quality, courtesy and responsiveness, and

b. to foster an environment which induces and welcomes continuous changes for greater efficiency and effectiveness, by employing modern management tools and techniques, while paying attention to the morale and welfare of public officers.

2. Objectives

2.1 The project was conceived to recommend an approach that embeds innovation capabilities in DMG, MINDEF and the SAF in a meaningful and purposeful manner. Also, it was to set up the MINDEF Innovation and Transformation Office
[5] as the agility provider [6] to implement a series of interventions that would transform and increase the agility of these organisations. These would lead to their securing of the Singapore Innovation Class [7] from SPRING Singapore from 2004 onwards to demonstrate the success of the Office and programme in meeting its change objectives.

3. Scope and Scale

3.1 The scale of the transformation was organisational-wide but initial implementation was to be restricted to those departments which leaders were keen to embark in this kind of transformation. It was intended that the implementation of all the phases of the change programme would take place by the end of 2007. 2008 was set aside for reviews and consolidation. As DMG was the leader of this change, the programme was kick-started in DMG. This report is a record of the activities and outcomes arising from the implementation of this programme in this organisation from January 2002 to February 2007.

4. Methodology

4.1 Following the six steps of Sharifi, Colquhoun, Barclay and Dann’s (2001) ‘Framework for Action’
[8], the change management programme was divided into three phases. The descriptions, activities and deliverables for each phase are provided below:

a. Phase 1 – Getting the Picture. The programme began with a 12-week fact finding phase to determine DMG's current capability and capacity to innovate.

(1) An initial six focussed group discussions (FGDs) of about 16 participants each were conducted in May 2003 for 100 staff from different levels of the organisation. Table A reveals the Profile of the Participants from the Initial Six FGDs.

(2) The purpose of these sessions was to understand the sentiments, and forces for and against innovation at that time, taking into consideration both the cognitive and emotive aspects for the impending change in the organisation [9]. The other intent was to use these engagements to generate hypothesises about DMG’s social dynamics to change and innovation. Table B shows the key Items that were Discussed at the Initial Six FGDs.

(3) The sixth session took place towards the end of May 2003.

(4) Concurrent to the above discussions was a DMG-wide survey that was constituted in May and carried out in June to further determine her capability and capacity to innovate. Table C shows the Profile of Targeted Respondents for the Survey. Table D provides a Sample of the Questions Used in the Survey. These questions were developed to test the initial hypothesises generated from first three FGDs that were held in May 2003.

(5) Some initial findings and conclusions became available in early June 2003, and another two FGDs were held to test their validity. Table F shows a list of Issues Tabled at the Additional Two FGDs in July 2003.

(6) The profile of the participants for these two FGDs remained the same as the last round of FGDs to avoid corrupting the validation tests.

b. Phase 2 – Knowing the Missing Elements. The purpose of this phase was to compare the characteristics of DMG with the characteristics of leading innovative organisations in the world to determine her agility level [10] and opportunities for levelling up with breakthroughs.

(1) The framework of the Nine Building Blocks of Innovative Organisations was used in this analysis.

This was originally developed in 2002 after a team of four officers (co-led by the author of this report) visited the United States of America to uncover what made leading organisations innovative. The study took the team from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School at the east coast to George Washington University at Washington, DC, and finally to Haas Business School at the University of California, Berkeley, at the west coast. The visit included the Pentagon, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Strategic Studies Group (SSG), IDEO, Solectron, 3M (Minnesota), General Motors, General Electric, the Centre for Business Innovation (CBI) at Cap Gemini Ernest and Young, the Virgin Group, and Scient (San Francisco).

The team members were aware that evolutionary logic predicts that, in the long run, organisations that are positively selected by the market and survived are those that tend to apply the most efficient organisational structures that are similar to each other [11]. This had make generalisation feasible. However, the members were also heedful of the need to contextualise the knowledge so that the characteristics could suggest localised solutions.

Nevertheless, these efforts helped solidify the body of knowledge on what makes the organisations innovative and provides the framework that describes the building blocks of the innovation pipeline [12].
The initial findings and conclusions drawn from the eight FGDs and the organisational-wide survey suggested that the following building blocks might provide insights during the ‘knowing the missing element’ phase of the programme:

(a) Building Block No. 1 - Capability and Capacity to Innovate. The efforts to transform organisations are of a long process. They require change agents or change practitioners [13] with abilities to mould the organisation’s eco-system to be conducive for innovation, and to imbue it with the enablers to sustain its growth. A deep understanding of organisational sciences, couple with making the creativity methods and innovation tools available and accessible to the innovators in the system are essentials in keeping the ecology alive.

(b) Building Block No. 2 - Resource Networks. Resourcing is important in assisting innovation. The traditional view of money as the only resource is insufficient. Many leading innovative organisations include community of support, change agents’ attention, and the body of creative and innovative knowledge as capitals [14] in their resource networks.

(c) Building Block No. 5 – Role Based Performance Measurement. It is understood that what is measured gets done. The study revealed that innovative organisations take this further by seeking to measure innovation for their potentials at the earliest state of its development (i.e. at the idea stage) for the purpose of providing their leaders the sensing they need to devote resources to it early. In doing so, these organisations are able to extend the measurements beyond lag indicators to progressively incorporate lead dimensions. In these leading innovative organisations, embedment of innovation practices are found in the process of bringing innovations into the market, instead of just focusing in creating the innovations themselves.

c. Phase 3 – Prescribing the Approach. The methodology for levelling up and embedding these breakthroughs was to be articulated so that the organisation was ensured of sustainable transformation.

(1) There were three key considerations in designing the strategy of bringing innovation into DMG and making it embedded. These were:

(a) Nature of the organisation. DMG was about 1,000 strong and functionally structured. It would take some time to create the reach necessary to tip the organisation toward sustainable transformation.

(b) Culture of organisation. DMG had undergone a number of changes. The last one ended a few months before the start of this planned change. There was a sense of change fatigue, and feelings of insecurity and anxiety caused by the ambiguities arising from these changes [15]. This might explained the scepticisms observed and hostilities experienced in the July's meeting that year, when the findings, conclusions and recommendations were presented.

(c) Risk adverse organisation. The one basic top management assumption was that innovation would loosen the fabrics or social glue that had kept the organisation intact and from the harms of mistakes, errors and accidents [16]. These were views held by some quarters of the organisation and supported by a significant portion of their senior and middle managers.

5. Plan

5.1 A portion of the programme schedule is found below. It outlines the schedule of events leading to February 2007 [17]. The chart consists of different streams of work, engagements with various programme stakeholders, and the deadlines of the programme’s milestones and deliverables.

By 30 July 2003, DMG received a report that:

a. Described her current capability and capacity to innovate,

b. Identified areas where breakthroughs were required to build DMG into an innovative organisation, and

c. Articulated a framework and an approach to embed these breakthroughs in order that DMG embarked her innovation journey.

5.2 What follows from here onward, is a detailed report of the activities and articulations of the outcomes arising from the implementation of the programme through the three phases of the planned change.


6. Phase 1 – Getting the Picture

6.1 The last of the eight FGDs took place towards the middle of July 2003, and seven key areas of DMG's ability to build her capability and capacity to innovate were uncovered:

a. All the participants were able to articulate the geo-political, economical, societal and technological factors that led to the importance of innovation in DMG,

b. 80% of the participants were unable to differentiate between continuous improvement from innovation,

c. 75% of the participants were unable to perceive the difference between creativity and innovation,

d. Only 30% were able to describe the existing enablers that might make themselves and their workforce innovative in the organisation,

e. 90% of these were unable to specify if these enablers existed purely for the purpose of innovation,

f. 96% were able to state clearly the frustrations of bringing creativity and innovations into the organisation. In addition, 80% of the participants agreed that the current continuous improvement routines and methods of measuring their performances were skewing the behaviours from fully embedding innovation in their departments, and

g. There were many expectations of what innovation could do for DMG but 90% of the participants wanted to commoditise innovation if they were the change agents for creativity and innovation in their organisations. They did not wish their organisation to be described, after the transformation, as few bright individuals or special interest groups generating innovations for the majority. This echoed a concern found in other change programmes about a growing stratum of knowledge workers engaged in a new age of dualistic class struggle characterised by the ‘empowerment of an elite’ with only limited autonomy for the majority [18].

6.2 The DMG-wide survey was carried out in June 2006. A total of 250 DMGians responded to the 54-question survey. This represented 25% [19] of the total DMG's population. Table G shows the Profile of Respondents Who have Completed the Survey.

6.3 The survey, when consolidated, was translated into a dashboard. Table H displays a Portion of the Innovation Propensity Dashboard [20].

6.4 The dashboard:

a. Uncovers what the people in the organisation has to say about innovation in their organisation,

b. Determines the effectiveness of the leadership team's strategies for building an innovative organisation, and

c. Reveals how far the organisation is away from the benchmark of world class innovative organisations.

6.5 The dashboard also:

a. Suggests the appropriate new strategies for driving innovation in DMG,

b. Identifies new resources that could be deployed congruently with the strategies, and

c. Predicts the impact of the new strategies and resourcing efforts on the performance of individual personnel, team, and organisation in delivering innovation.

6.6 Four key findings were established when analysing the dashboard:

a. Leaders of the organisation considered innovation a strategic tool that could help them transform their units more effectively and efficiently,

b. The leaders were unsure about their innovation management philosophy, goals, and strategies for making themselves and their workforce innovative,

c. There was no innovation specific initiatives, programmes, and resources deployed for innovation, and

d. Yet, part of the workforce at the operational level intermittently felt some positive impact as if there were efforts made by management to drive innovation in the organisation.

6.7 The findings from the survey empirically confirmed some of the knowledge secured from the eight FGDs. Also, they unveiled another insight - the stovepipe nature of the organisation was causing imbalances in the distribution of champions and sponsors’ social capital amongst innovators. This had discouraged innovators from wanting to come forward with their ideas.

6.8 When DMG's capability and capacity to innovate was compared with the characteristics of leading innovative organisations, three key building blocks of the innovation pipeline were found missing:

a. Building Block No. 1 - DMG was not short of change agents or change practitioners but was scarce in terms of the number interested in advocating innovation. Those few, who are leading, facilitating, creating and sustaining innovation, were short in capabilities and capacities in translating ideas into innovations and in converting these into value for the organisation through diffusion and adoption.

b. Building Block No. 2 – The organisation largely depended on money as the sole resource, and most of these funds were not employed in project prototyping or trials. Fund administrators were unable to differentiate funding for prototyping and trials from funding for implementations, which usually demand a different kind of performance indicators and rules on investment returns. Owing to the use of evaluation methods not meant for the early-stage innovative projects, ideas were usually rejected on grounds of risks and uncertainties.

c. Building Block No. 5 – DMG tended to have performance indicators that were fixated at measuring the number of innovation created. Their indicators were narrowly based, which excluded the value the innovation delivered, quality of the embedment of innovative culture, and there was a focus on using lag indicators in tracking innovation performance.


7. Phase 2 – Knowing the Missing Elements

7.1 Here were some of the conclusions drawn at this phase:

a. In general, the importance of innovation was well understood amongst DMGians and acknowledged as a strategic weapon for riding the next wave of productivity. However, they felt disempowered as they did not consider themselves knowledgeable enough to hold the means to manage innovation.

b. These feelings of disempowerment could be a result of the lack of a jargon or language to differentiate and describe continuous improvement from innovation, and to distinguish creativity from innovation.

c. Given these misgivings, there were few change agents for innovation as compared to other competing transformational initiatives, like Learning Organisation, Balanced Scorecard and 6-Sigma. Even for these few innovation change agents, as they were encouraging creativity and innovation, they were unknowingly pushing strategies and tactics largely meant for continuous improvements.

d. Some pockets of the organisation seemingly experienced the existence of resources deployed for innovation even there were no strategies and specific innovation programmes calling for them.

e. Further queries into this occurrence revealed that their champions or/and sponsors were able to divert resources not meant for innovation into their projects. The analysis suggested two potential drivers leading to this kind of behaviours - the power and influences the champions and sponsors could be brought to bear on the funding request, and the urgency for the action in bringing forth the intended innovative outcomes for the organisation. These had resulted in accusations of innovation favouring the few in many quarters of the organisation, which created a kind of micropolitics at work on a daily basis and a ‘story or urban legend’ of its own right even for those who had not experience this kind of treatment personally at their part of their organisation [21].

f. This may indicate that there were some structural factors that concentrated power and influence necessary for innovation to only certain sectors of or individuals in the organisation. It was suspected that the use of inappropriate performance measurements could have caused such manifestations.

7.2 Some of these conclusions were made in early July 2003, and two additional FGDs were held to test, especially, the last two hypotheses, for their validity, and Table F show a list of Issues Tabled at these two final FGDs.


8. Phase 3 – Prescribing the Approach

8.1 The findings, conclusions and recommendations for capturing the opportunities for breakthroughs were presented to DMG Senior Management on 30 July 2003 and were endorsed on the same day.

The MINDEF Innovation Framework [22] was also introduced for the first time to the leadership team and it contained four key components under the acronym “RACE”. This was designed to provide the needed resources to enable the opportunities for breakthroughs in the organisation. RACE stands for:

a. Roadmap for Innovation. The roadmap shows the innovation value chain and throughput, where ideas get translated from concepts into realities, in order to deliver value to the organisation,

b. Acknowledging Innovation. Providing the performance measurements and incentives to drive and motivate innovative behaviours,

c. Communicating Innovation. Establishing multi-layered channels of communication to generate awareness, excitement and buy-in for innovation, and

d. Enabling Innovation. Equipping people with the necessary skills, tools and processes to develop innovative capabilities and capacities, and to enable innovation in action.

The MINDEF Innovation Framework, taken in its entirety, was meant to increase the organisation’s propensity to innovate, thus creating a fertile breeding ground for innovations to emerge.

8.2 A conversation over the nature of the proposed approach ensued. There were concerns over what could be the most appropriate way to transform in an organisation with over 1,000 personnel. The scepticisms in the organisation’s ability to sustain the change after the intervention were also articulated at the meeting. The nature of this piece of conversation might be an outward expression of the management’s concern of seeing their power bases being reconfigured [23] and they were signalling the Office to manage the change delicately.

8.3 In addition to this influences, the principal consultant and manager of the MINDEF Innovation and Transformation Office [24] subscribed to the ‘leaning into the future’ [25] orientation of change. He believed that there should be a strong sense of structured intention and clarity for the change determined by clear objectives and outcomes. At the same time, being aware that change is both not predictable and containable. Learning has to be the cornerstone of the change by bringing the past and current work patterns into the design for the future.

8.4 Understanding the subjective nature of the change, the penetration strategy for the intervention programme had to have the characteristics of thinking ahead, imagining the future beyond the current difficulties, focusing how the change is to be managed, and explore mechanisms that makes change possible [26]. It was decided that the Office had to think big, start small, scale fast, and impact deep:

a. The essence in thinking big is not to allow the scarcity of time, space and resources to become the constraints in constructing the overall design of the intervention. This construct forces the change strategists to look for satisficing long-term sustainable and inventive solutions instead of short-term constrained and piecemeal interventions.

b. In starting small, the interventionists are allowed to begin with small transformations in pockets of trial units driven by enthusiastic leaders already bought into the potential benefits the programme. Small offers the required flexibility in speedily trying out various experimental approaches of the intervention, and reduces the negative effects of failures with quick recoveries. While the management concepts that brought about successful Innovative organisations in the North America were attractive, the Office believed that they needed to be adapted to local requirements because of differences in national institutional settings in which the organisation was embedded [27].

c. With scaling fast, the benefits of the programme is pushed through the organisation in the shortest possible time using organisational level incentives and performance measurements targeted at their leaders. These are to be dovetailed by the excited anticipation of the to-be-affected and supported by positive outcomes and testimonies garnered from the trials during the 'start small' stage of the intervention. The intention of this step was to demonstrate how members could get more from their organisation by bringing their ‘complete-self’ to work and deploy their full creativity, emotions and intelligence through the interconnectedness or spirituality [28] they established with the converts through social interactions.

d. In impacting deep, a slew of policies and mechanisms would be put in place to fix the initial successful changes and to further push for the behaviours necessary for sustaining the transformation in the organisation over time.

8.5 Given the Senior Management's endorsement and the Office’s acknowledgement of their sensitivities towards the transformation, the programme went into full steam by implementing its penetration strategy.

8.6 The penetration strategy had to have the following attributes:

a. The purpose for innovation, which give rise to the motivation needed to create, implement and sustain the breakthroughs, had to be identified.

b. The three missing building blocks and seven organisational concerns had to be addressed by the change initiatives.

c. Embed by doing. DMGians needed to put actions into words. Capabilities and capacities of innovation were to be created, built, and sustained through time and practice.

8.7 In prescribing the approach, ‘Jumpstart’ was recommended as an instrument for transformation for the departments in DMG. Jumpstart was a step by step approach in introducing innovation to a small cohort to create small advantages, which would benefit everyone and also serve as talking points for the management to enrol others to join the bandwagon of transformation. This was presented and approved by the management team in Aug 2003. The goals of Jumpstart were to:

a. Influence people’s mindset, attitudes, and emotional labour towards innovation as the new paradigm for the new workplace [29],

b. Promote authentic behaviours, rather than emotion work [30], as instruments that support innovation,

c. Develop innovative capabilities and capacities within the individual and the organisation,

d. Harness and cultivate ideas from concepts to realities, and

e. Promote the adoption and diffusion of innovation across MINDEF/SAF.
8.8 Jumpstart had three main stages:

a. Stage 1 - Uncovering the purpose for innovation. In the face of fiscal constraints and aggressive 3rd Generation SAF reforms, areas where innovations were needed were identified so that efforts for innovation became meaningful and therefore valuable. The leadership teams of participating departments were asked about the strategic imperatives or concerns that needed breakthroughs. They had to decide that innovation was the best vehicle to do these. The Office recognised that the leaders had their highs and lows, dreams, suspicions, fears and an assortment of emotions that needed to be looked into and explained at this stage as they could impact change later. The Office was fully aware that autocratic and emotionally damaging leaders could restrict the possibility of change. By engaging them emotionally rather than just being mechanical about the change had provided the Office an access to their optimal personal and organisation growth [31].

b. Stage 2 - Unveiling the stoppages to innovation. While the stoppages for innovation at the organisational level had been articulated and reported at the last management meeting, the stoppages at the personal level had to be dealt with. Processes that could identify the personal mental maps were used to uncover the personal blockages to innovation. By encouraging them to bring their own feelings and ideas up and open these for discourse had reduced their resistance to change. By not suppressing these feelings, the organisation was opened to learning, growth and change at both the leadership and operational level. The trust gained at this stage reduced the personal discomfort or personal embarrassment that forced people to do the right things and not the ‘unconventional stuffs’ [32].

c. Stage 3 - Unleashing the power of innovation. Innovation only creates value by doing. By doing, ideas were realised as innovations, and their adoption and diffusion created value for the organisation. In the process, the organisation was learning at the individual level, and when aggregated, constituted organisational learning. There was empowerment and collaborative decision making leading to self-generating creative synergy and commitment that reduced centralism, favouritism and highly restricted flow of information. The other point for Stage 3 was that the small advantages created had been used as talking points, which served as tools for enrolling others as well as a showcasing of the returns for investments from the change programme.

8.9 Jumpstart was conducted as a series of meetings, consulting hours, and workshops. Here is a brief description of each of these engagements:

a. Meetings were set up for conversations, discourses, discussions, and reporting of expectations, timelines and deliverables.

b. Consulting hours were set aside for the purpose of analysing and collecting data, defining the information, developing the solutions, strategies and action plans for the project.

c. Workshops were engagements for the purpose of tapping into the wisdom of the participants to generate share purposes and common goals, as well as to create common actionable plans for making the needed transformations in the organisation.

8.10 Given these definitions and the strategies presented in Para 8.4, Jumpstart was designed to have following types and number of engagements to provide the following outcomes for the participating department:

a. Stage 1 - Leadership Engagement consists of four sessions, comprising of two meetings, and two workshops of varied complexities:

(1) Leadership Engagement Meeting. Here, the areas of concerns or what the Office termed as 'Things that keeps the Leadership Team awake at night' was explored. In addition, the Office looked at the 'way things were conducted and carried out in the organisation' to unveil the meaning structures and the embodied ‘habitus’ [33] that were at work. These gave the Office an access into the values the leaders subscribed to and provided the it the images and symbols that defined the organisation. It served as the basis to re-craft the ‘field’ [34] for the change. The aspirations for innovation of the leadership team were examined as well.

(2) Post-Leader Engagement Mini-Workshop. In this session, the findings of the organisation's propensity to innovation, the conclusions and recommendations were released to management. The leadership team was given the opportunity to query the consultant on the information, and to endorse and provide the mandate to apply the penetration strategies and interventions and This session had two parts - the presentation, and the workshop, where the participants got on to agree on the strategies.

(3) Leadership Engagement Workshop. This was an important engagement, where all members of the leadership team attended so that they could collaboratively manage and reconfigure their power bases, their capital and the new field [35] they were going to operate in so that each was assured of their own ‘political safety’ [36]. This was an engagement where the leadership team decided on the purpose of innovation in relation to the 'things that keep them awake' and 'the way things are done here' and to infuse them with feelings [37]. The engagements concluded with the team agreeing that innovation was the best way to create the transformation.

(4) Post-Leadership Meeting. The findings and final recommendations were presented here. This was also a mandate seeking meeting to secure management attention, protection and support for the intervention.

b. Stage 2 – Changing Mindsets and Generating Ideas. There were two parts in this stage:

(1) Innovation Game. This was a half-day workshop where participants played a game that:

· Created for the player an access to his/her source of creativity and engages the players at the emotional level to activate their passion [38] for innovation,

· Provided the player the technology to overcome his/her barriers, which included ways to address the surface and deep acting of emotional labour [39] to innovate, and

· Gave the player insights into his/her contributions to these barriers on others.

(2) Ideation Worksop. In this half-day workshop, participants were subjected to a process [40] that helped them generate many ideas about a specific problem encountered in the organisation. The process provided:

· The participants a group-based process that effectively ‘pull’ the wisdom out of them, organised the wisdom and recorded the knowledge systematically, and democratically reached a conclusion in the conversation,

· The participants were provided tools necessary in identifying their wisdom, critically challenging them, and using their insights to generate new knowledge, and

· The empowerment and freedom for the participants to join and exit the discussion.

c. Stage 3 – Innovation Workshop. The Innovation Workshop was to deliver two outcomes. It:

· Provides the methodology and tools to kick-start the innovation project

· Provides the template for creating a 1st cut proposal for management approval and funding of the idea,

The Process of the Workshop [41]. This was a 5-step process that that shortened the adverse effects of forming and storming phases of the team’s development [42]. It took the team from the creation of an idea to turning it into actual working prototypes within a short span of 2 days, thereby strengthening the team’s capacity to deliver what they had created.

The members of the team would also address issues of marketing the solution, dealing with sceptics, managing resources, and negotiating between different interest groups. It was fast-paced and was used for designing, refining, and introducing new or existing products.

A total of 13 hours was set aside per team to coach and mentor the participants of the team in their Innovation journey.

8.11 In order to deliver these outcomes in an progressive and experiential way, the following technologies [43] were used:

a. The Innovation GameTM.

The game, which consists of a series of nine activities, provided participants an opportunity to explore their own personal and interpersonal mental barriers to innovation in a very experiential way. Instead of teaching, it is a kind of situated activity that involved interconnected themes of perception, cognition, language, learning, agency, the social world and their interaction. It provides players the opportunities to learn, as a total person, the relationship that people engages in a socially and culturally structured world to understand the constraints they imposed on themselves [44]. The activities introduced at the course will open a window for the participants to see how their subconscious mind operates. The game will provide them the lingo to catch the triggers that stop them from thinking creatively and innovatively.

b. Enhanced Open Space (eOSTM)

Enhanced Open Space (eOSTM) Technology is a way to invite and convene different stakeholders to a large scale gathering where participants generate their own agendas, allocate their own time and duration, enthuse participation in the breakouts groups, and encourage group level conversations with the purpose of generating ideas. Usually, the gathering is facilitated, and there are principles and rules that participants have to comply with to encourage the democracy in participation, commitment, and contribution at the event.

Rules of OST:

· Whoever comes are the right people
· Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
· Whenever it starts is the right time
· When it's over, it's over
· Where the Law of Two Feet should apply, will apply

c. Tricks of InnovationTM

This is a box of 7 ideation tools that help participants generate challenge assumptions, define the problems, generate and refine breakthrough ideas.

d. Balanced Dynamics InnovationTM.

This is an approach that helps organisations increase their chances of getting innovative breakthroughs from their innovation teams.

The approach addresses the need of putting together a team that has all the capabilities and capacities to create and deliver innovative breakthroughs, and at the same time overcoming the difficulties of getting a team, with very diverse backgrounds, to stay long enough together to bring their innovative breakthroughs to the market.

It is not natural that the teams succeed. They need to be set up for success. Balanced Dynamics InnovationTM brings together three sets of technologies to do just this. Here is a brief description for each of these:

e. Setting the Team Up for SuccessTM

Assigning the wrong person to a job that requires creativity, ignoring the important tasks in the innovation process, or failing to resolve conflicts radiating from bringing the innovation to market could have costly consequences. Here, the Team Management Profile will be used to provide individuals valuable insights into the way they prefer to work, their preferred role within an innovative team, and the propensity of their team in delivering the breakthrough to the market.

Understanding work preferences is a critical component in developing individual, team and organizational performance. Team Management Systems' Team Management Profile Questionnaire is a 60-item assessment focused on enhancing understanding of an individual's approaches to work.

Based on responses to the profile questionnaire, the personal Team Management Profile provides constructive, work-based information outlining an individual’s work preferences and the strengths that an individual brings to a team.

Work preferences are explored in terms of:

· How an individual prefers to relate to others
· How an individual gathers and uses information
· How an individual makes decisions
· How an individual organizes themselves and others

The personal Team Management Profile highlights an individual's major and related areas of work preferences, including information focused on:

· Individual and leadership strengths
· Decision-making
· Interpersonal skills
· Teambuilding

The feedback will help to improve the team’s capability to create and deliver, which in turn increases the organisation’s propensity to innovation.

f. Cycle of InnovationTM

This is a proven methodology that alleviates the adverse effects of the forming and storming phases of the team’s development. It takes the team from the creation of an idea to turning it into actual working prototypes within a short span of 2 days, thereby strengthening the team’s capacity to deliver what they have created.

The members of the team will also address issues of marketing the solution, dealing with sceptics, managing resources, and negotiating between different interest groups. It is fast-paced and is used for designing, refining, and introducing new products, services and processes. The roots of Cycle of InnovationTM can be trace to Deep Dive, a process that has been used by the IDEO.

g. GIST Planning BoardTM

This is a methodology that comes with a planning board and a set of planning cards that take the users through a series of phases to generate 1st cut implementation plans for introducing the innovative solutions. It is through this planning board that the tools from the Tricks of InnovationTM are used in a coherent fashion.

There are four phases in using the board. These are:

· Grounding the Problem. In this phase, a set of questions are presented to help users identify requirements.

· Ideation and Refinements. Here, innovative solutions are generated and refined.

· Strategy Development and Leveraging. The planning board now asks users about their strategies.

· Putting Them Together. Finally, users are led into putting together a plan that introduces the innovative solution into the market.


9. Controlling and Adjusting the Change Process. Using Kirkpatrick’s model of training effectiveness, three levels of training effectiveness were used to measure the impact of the learning and change at the workplace.

a. Level 1 Evaluation on how participants in the engagement sessions and workshops react to these meetings.

b. Level 2 Evaluation on knowledge and skills acquired. Each participant was given a self-administered assessment tool to gauge his/her own ability and confidence level in using the skills learned from the engagements and workshops.

c. Level 3 Evaluation of transference of skills to workplace. A pre-engagement or workshop evaluation form was given to all supervisors to rate their supervisee’s current performance before the engagements and workshops. Three months after the training, a similar form will be administered. Based on the comparison of scores between the pre- and post-engagement/workshop Level 3 evaluations, the extent of skills application at the workplace was gauged.

10. Monitor Insitutionalisation of Innovation. In addition, the Office continued to monitor the institutionalisation [45] of the change in the organisation along eight key indicators spread across four broad areas of people, structure, leadership and enablers, and found that by 2004, about 50% of the members on the organisation agreed that the organisation was heading the right direction.

11. Participation in Innovation Programme. By the beginning of 2006, 31 organisations were in the programme and 34 MINDEF and the SAF departments and units had already and was about to be certified as Innovation Class organisations.


12. Recognition and Awards. The project has received numerous recognition and awards within [46] and external [47] of the organisation. These change initiatives had also attracted the interest of many public and private sector organisations, including the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Education, National Library Board, SPRING Singapore, Civil Service College, and Chevron Texaco.

13. Leaving the Programme. Subsequently, the Principal Consultant and Manager of the MINDEF Innovation and Transformation Office, and the author of this report, left the ministry in Feb 2007 to bring this unique change experience to several other public organisation like Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Land Transport Authority of Singapore, and National Community Leadership Institute.


[1] Fineman, S. (1999) Emotion and organizing, in S.R. Clegg & C. Hardy (Eds), Studying Organisation: Theory and Methods, London: Sage: 288-310.

[2] Please visit http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/mindef_websites/topics/3g/home.html for more information on the 3rd Generation SAF.

[3] The structure of DMG is displayed at http://www.mindef.gov.sg/dmg/abtdmg/index.htm#m.

[4] The author is Anthony Mok, who is the Principal Consultant and Manager for the MINDEF Innovation Office from 2001 to 2007.

[5] Information related to Public Service 21 (PS21) can be found at: http://app.ps21.gov.sg/newps21/default.asp?id=1.

[6] http://www.mindef.gov.sg/innovation/ provides information about the Office.

[7] Sharifi, H., Colquhoun, G., I Barclay, I. and Dann, Z. (2001) Agile manufacturing: a management and operational framework, Processing Institution of Mechanical Engineers Vol 215: 857-869.

[8] For more information on the Singapore Innovation Class, please refer to: http://www.business.gov.sg/EN/BusinessTopic/BusinessExcellence/BusinessExcellenceCertifications/excel_certs_i-class.htm.

[9] Sharifi, H., Colquhoun, G., I Barclay, I. and Dann, Z. (2001) Agile manufacturing: a management and operational framework, Processing Institution of Mechanical Engineers Vol 215: 857-869.

[10] Sharifi, H., Colquhoun, G., I Barclay, I. and Dann, Z. (2001) Agile manufacturing: a management and operational framework, Processing Institution of Mechanical Engineers Vol 215: 857-869.

[11] Woywode, M. (2002) Global Management Concepts and Local Adaptations: Working Groups in the French and German Car Manufacturing Industry, Organisation Studies 23/4:497-524.

[12] Snyder, N. T., and Duarte, D. L. (2003) Strategic Innovation: Embedding Innovation as a Core Competency in Your Organisation. USA:Jossey-Bass, pp. 125-126.

[13] Waddell, D. M., Cummings, T.G., and Worley, C. G. (2007) Organisation, Development & Change. 3rd Edition, Asia Pacific: Australia and Singapore: Thomson.

[14] Oakes, L., Townley, B. & Cooper, D. (1998) Business planning as pedagogy: Language and control in a changing institutional field, Administrative Science Quarterly, 43(2): 257-292.

[15] Beatty, B. (2000) The emotions of educational leadership: Breaking the silence, International Journal of Leadership in Education, 3(4):331-357.

[16] Fineman, S. (1993) Organisations as emotional arenas, in S. Fineman (Ed.), Emotion in Organisations, London:Sage: 9-35.

[17] The information in this schedule is not a true representation of the actual programme. This is done to protect the organisation.

[18] Frenkel, S. J. (2003) The embedded character of workplace relations, Work and Occupations, 30(2): 135-153.

[19] The information provided here is not a true representation of the actual project. This is done to protect the organisation.

[20] The information provided here is not a true representation of the actual project. This is done to protect the organisation. Only a portion of the dashboard is revealed here to protect the IP of the instrument.

[21] Fineman, S. (1993) Organisations as emotional arenas, in S. Fineman (Ed.), Emotion in Organisations, London: Sage: 9-35.

http://www.mindef.gov.sg/innovation/programme.asp#building provides the source of this diagram, which was first created by the author of this report in 2003.

[23] Morley, L. & Rassol, N. (2000) School effectiveness: New managerialism, quality and the Japanization of education, Journal of Education Policy, 15(2): 169-83.

[24] The author of this report was the principal consultant and manager of the MINDEF Innovation and Transformation Office from 2003 to 2007.

[25] Thaw, D. (2002) Stepping into the Rivers of Change in M. Edwards and A. Fowler The Earthscan Reader on NGO Management, London: Earthscan: 146-163.

[26] Felkins, P. K., Chakiris, B. J., and Kenneth, N. (1994) Change Management: A Model for Effective Organisational Performance, New York, Quality Resources.

[27] Woywode, M. (2002) Global Management Concepts and Local Adaptations: Working Groups in the French and German Car Manufacturing Industry, Organisation Studies 23/4:497-524.

[28] Mitroff, I. I., and Denton, E. A. (1999) A Study of Spirituality in the Workplace, Sloan Management Review, Summer 1999.

[29] Taylor, S. (1998) Emotional labour and the new workplace, in P. Thompson & C. Warhurst (Eds), Workplaces of the Future, London: Macmillan, pp. 84-103.

[30] Fineman, S. (1999) Emotion and organizing, in S.R. Clegg & C. Hardy (Eds), Studying Organisation: Theory and Methods, London: Sage: 288-310.

[31] Beatty, B. (2000) The emotions of educational leadership: Breaking the silence, International Journal of Leadership in Education, 3(4):331-357.

[32] Fineman, S. (1993) Organisations as emotional arenas, in S. Fineman (Ed.), Emotion in Organisations, London: Sage: 9-35.

[33] Thomson, P. (1999) Reading the work of school administrators with the help of Bourdieu: getting a ‘feel of the game’. Paper presented at the AARE and NZARE joint conference (Melbourne).

[34] Fineman, S. (1993) Organisations as emotional arenas, in S. Fineman (Ed.), Emotion in Organisations, London: Sage: 9-35.

[35] Oakes, L., Townley, B. & Cooper, D. (1998) Business planning as pedagogy: Language and control in a changing institutional field, Administrative Science Quarterly, 43(2): 257-292.

[36] Morley, L. & Rassol, N. (2000) School effectiveness: New managerialism, quality and the Japanization of education, Journal of Education Policy, 15(2): 169-83.

[37] Fineman, S. (1999) Emotion and organizing, in S.R. Clegg & C. Hardy (Eds), Studying Organisation: Theory and Methods, London: Sage: 288-310.

[38] Fineman, S. (1999) Emotion and organizing, in S.R. Clegg & C. Hardy (Eds), Studying Organisation: Theory and Methods, London: Sage: 288-310.

[39] Taylor, S. (1998) Emotional labour and the new workplace, in P. Thompson & C. Warhurst (Eds), Workplaces of the Future, London: Macmillan, pp. 84-103.

[40] Butterworth, M. S. J. (2003) Using iLab to Manage Hundreds and Thousands of Ideas in a Mass Ideation Process?, Innovation Tools,
http://xxiaohao.blogspot.com/2007/05/segmentation-of-problems.html will provide more information about the process.

[42] Waddell, D. M., Cummings, T.G., and Worley, C. G. (2007) Organisation, Development & Change. 3rd Edition, Asia Pacific: Australia and Singapore: Thomson.

[43] These are later inventions by the author although their genesis came from his experience with the innovation project. The legal rights to all these technologies belong to author.

[44] Lave, J. (1991) Situational learning in communities of practice, in L. B. Resnick, J. M. Levine & S. D. Teasley (Eds), Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition, Washington: American Psychological Association: 63-82

[45] Waddell, D. M., Cummings, T.G., and Worley, C. G. (2007) Organisation, Development & Change. 3rd Edition, Asia Pacific: Australia and Singapore: Thomson.

http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/publications/cyberpioneer/news/2006/July/20jul06_news2.html & http://www.ps21.gov.sg/Challenge/2005_08/ministries/pride.html are some examples of the internal excitement on the project.

[47] http://www.ps21.gov.sg/Challenge/2005_04/images/calendar.pdf provides some clue about the interests in the project from entities external of the Ministry

Only all figures presented in this report are falsified.
Throughout 2001 to 2007, I have been challenged by many people from different quarters of the organisation on the science behind MINDEF Innovation Programme and capability of it delivering the intended outcomes.
This effort has recently been validated by my lecturer:

Dr Deanna De Silwa, Department of Education, Monash University, wrote:
"This is an extremely well executed strategic plan to implement and filtrate innovation within an organisation. It is extremely pleasing to see that you have integrated a wide range of literature on leadership and innovation with the practical issues of the defence force context."
This report was 1st created on 1 May 2008.
Copyright 2008. Anthony Mok. All Rights Reserved.

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