People first, then technology

MUCH has been said about how to boost productivity ("'Kiasuism' an obstacle to boosting productivity" by Mr Tan Jit Khoon; Thursday, and "Creativity and resolve needed in productivity push"; Feb 13).

However, what needs to be remembered is that good management lies in the ability to get things done through people, coupled with the use of technology, to increase efficiency and productivity.

It is people first, then technology. But with the advancement of technology, it is now the other way around.

We have relied heavily on technology to manage people. We do away with telephone operators and information counters, we do away with supervisors on the job, we do away with enforcement officers.

I can cite several instances where the lack of enforcement and supervision - the human element - is glaring.

At FairPrice, for example, there is a cashier counter set up for those in the pioneer generation and posters are put up to indicate so. But without anyone supervising this, it is the young people who are forming the queue.

No one is around to direct the seniors there or to tell the young to queue elsewhere.

In the heartland, when there are contractors at work, one hardly sees a supervisor or quality control personnel.

The result is that the work is not done well - for instance, there is water ponding after levelling works are done, and residents are not adequately informed about the commencement and completion of works.

Also, shops have markers to indicate where the owners can display their goods but this is seldom enforced.

Good management is all about people. From that, and technology, productivity will flow.

Anthony Goh Tee Kow

This article was first published on Feb 21, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.