DSTA to help trains run better in Singapore?

November 10, 2017

Man shouted out today when he saw me walking towards him – now they’re going to get these really smart people who make bombs and guns to help the trains run better….what do these people know about trains and if they have no experience in trains how can they make it better?

I told the man, don’t be so negative. Maybe their strength is that they have absolutely no experience in trains.

Man was very confused by my answer. I did not elaborate further despite his numerous request for me to elaborate further.


‘The October 1973 Yom Kippur War, known in the Arab World as the Ramadan War, demonstrated the risks to Israel of underestimating the military capabilities of its hostile neighbors. It is the classic intelligence failure in Israeli and it happened because the military establishment was mesmerised by their own imaginary invincibility and unbroken record of winning virtually every single battle since 65.

Despite 17 intelligence reports emerging from the clandestine network of spies in Cairo. 2 from MI6. 8 from Iran — the establishment dismissed them all as noise and did not contemplate the possibility of an all-out assault. The results were catastrophic and Israel nearly got wiped off the map.

After Yom Kippur the Israelis came out with the concept of The Tenth Man.

The Tenth Man is a devil’s advocate. If there are 10 people in a room and nine agree, the role of the tenth is to disagree and point out flaws in whatever decision the group has reached.

This may at first come across as a reversal of logic. But it is not. Thirty years before Yom Kippur – following the epic defeat of the IJN at midway – the Japanese coined a word for this…. senshoubyou…victory disease.

There are many reasons why decision makers can be blinded to such an extent where they even the deny the possibilities of the obvious…group think….complacency…..their ego….I have seen this many times.

That is why from time to time it important for a man to recalibrate his brain in the way one goes about zeroing a scope or tarring a weighing scale…and this can only be done if he seeks help from outside his traditional field of expertise.

Many things can be said about people who don’t know how to plant. One can certainly say they frequently throw out plenty of stupid ideas that one simply knows will never work….but since they come with no baggages, no assumptions that they may even consider timeless and universal and since they have the benefit of having applied themselves in other fields…..often when one just shuts up and listens carefully….out of the many stupid ideas that’s thrown out, there is certainly always one that is sublime clever.

Recently I experienced such a moment of epiphany with a young girl who works in a surveyors office….mid way thru a meeting when we were all struggling to resolve an issue. This girl said something that was completely tangenial…it was so off the mark that one of the planters even rebuked her into silence. But I could see something… there so I told the rest that If they didn’t mind, I would like to bear out patiently what this girl who had absolutely no experience even in growing a cactus…..and at the end of it. I found myself saying, ‘why didn’t I think about that.’

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