Innovation starts from the ground

Recently, a survey by business school Insead revealed that Singapore was ranked seventh on the Global Innovation Index 2013 among 142 economies. This is four places lower than the third position that it was ranked last year, according to the report released on July 1.

However, Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) secretary-general Dr R. Theyvendran told tabla! that the dip in Singapore's ranking is not worrisome and is merely a marker for the employment and education sectors to boost innovation and creative thinking among staff and students alike.

"We are now in a different world compared to 10 years ago.

Ideas shouldn't be pushed from a top-down approach. It should come from ground up," said Dr Theyvendran.

"And these ideas should be taken seriously by employers and educators and, if the ideas are great, they should be implemented.

Otherwise, the drive to bring new ideas to the table will slow down," he added.

He cited the example of how MDIS does this with its 360-strong staff. Every month, the staff fills up a monthly report in which there is a feedback section. "They can put in whatever ideas they want. It can be something really small like painting rainbows on a specific wall," explained Dr Theyvendran.

A committee within MDIS will look through the ideas and see which are feasible to implement. "Those that are will be implemented while the rejected ones would come to me and I will assess the reason for the rejection," he said.

"It's things like this that will drive productivity and innovation," added Dr Theyvendran.

In the classrooms, the students at MDIS are also pushed to think creatively.

"We have modules that are assignment based with a small examinable portion. And during lessons, students here have a very hands-on experience to get their minds working," he said.

He added that the education sector in Singapore may be shifting away from having a top-down approach where students absorbed what they learnt from books and teachers.

"But the shift is still slow. What needs to be changed is that the stress factor for high academic results should be reduced," added Dr Theyvendran.

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