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Opening Remarks by Mr Fong Yong Kian, Chief Executive, Tote Board at launch of Tote Board Non-Profit Transformation Initiative, Organisational Development on 8th November 2018 1.30pm at Found@Prinsep

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, MCCY & MCI
Ms Anita Fam, President, NCSS
Mr Sim Gim Guan, CEO, NCSS
Mr Ang Hak Seng, Deputy Secretary, MCCY and Commissioner of Charities
Chairpersons, CEOs, EDs, Senior leaders and dear colleagues from the non-profit sector,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am really happy that so many of you are here for the launch today, sending a strong signal that you recognise the importance of Organisation Development or OD. Thank you all for taking the time to be here. I want to spend the next 5 minutes explaining why Tote Board is embarking on the OD programme to be launched later this morning.

2. I want to start by mentioning a book, which some of you here might have read. It’s entitled “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t” by Jim Collins. Published a while back in 2001, “Good to Great“ is still widely regarded as a modern classic on organisation management. In short, “Good to Great” analyses why some companies make the leap from being good to being great, defined as those that managed to significantly out-perform their peers, not just for a few seasons but over a period of growth and sustained success over time.

3. ‘Good to Great” contains many inspiring stories, of leaders who are humble and yet persistent, and organisations focused on investing in developing core competencies to attain excellence. The “Good to Great” message is one that is timeless and is applicable to the non-profit sector in Singapore. Today, Tote Board would like to offer our humble support to enable NPOs that have the desire to make the leap from Good to Great.

NPOs today and in the future

4. Why is Tote Board motivated to do this? NPOs play an important role in civic society. Many of you in this room are leaders in your respective realms, leading large and complex organisations that touch and improve lives in a variety of settings, be it in the promotion of arts and sports, programmes to improve the well-being of our seniors, support programmes for vulnerable families and youths etc.

5. Yet, we know that our work cannot remain static. When we look around us, our operating environment is changing, clients’ expectations are rising and new technologies are driving disruption across a range of sectors. To manage these increasing demand and expectations, there is constant pressure to do more with less.

6. Let us now try to imagine an organisation as a balance scale, with two sides. On one side are the services provided by the organisation and on the other side, the internal capacity of the organisation, such as leadership, HR, IT systems, to generate these services and products. For a lot of NPOs, the scale may not be a balanced one. Perhaps out of necessity, it is common for an NPO to devote most of its resources into programmes to serve clients and beneficiaries, putting most of the weights on one side of the scale, leaving the other side of the scale in drastic need for catch-up.

7. I believe that in a period of rapid change, the two sides of the scale have to be better balanced, so that the organisation can have the capacity to be nimble in responding to changes, innovate and grow. For example, the organisation’s vision and strategies may need to be renewed, staff may need to be re-skilled, corporate systems and processes have to made more robust to meet higher governance standard. In short, this is the purpose of organisation development – to ensure that every part of the organisational capacity are developed, optimised and aligned for the organisation to continually perform at the highest possible level and to sustain it.

8. And this is the reason why Tote Board is launching the Organisation Development or OD programme today, as part of Tote Board’s NPO Transformation Initiative. Together with NCSS and other stakeholders who are here today, we want to support and enable impactful NPOs in your journey of organisation development, so that you can move from Good to Great. We intend to use the Business Excellence (or BE) framework, as this is a holistic and internationally recognised, cross-industry benchmark for excellence. Later on, Mr Wong An Wei from Enterprise Singapore will be telling us more about the Business Excellence framework.

Sharing of OD journey

9. I have no doubt that many of you here would agree that organisation development is important but perhaps you may have some questions about the process. I believe that listening to the sharing of other organisations that have embarked on the journey would help. An outstanding example of an organisation that has undergone a tremendous transformation journey is the Institute of Technical Education. Sabrina, the Deputy CEO of ITE is here with us today and will share about ITE’s experience shortly. If you are a charity, you may be able to relate better with Metta Welfare Association’s OD journey that Tiang Hwee will speak about later. I want to congratulate Metta Welfare who just received the Singapore Quality Class with People niche last month and for being one of the few VWOs who has embarked on the OD journey. Later, I will also be sharing Tote Board’s little own experience; we started our OD journey in 2017 and after 18 months of hard work, we are happy to say that we will be receiving our Singapore Quality Class certification soon.


10. The journey from ‘good’ to ‘great’ is not the easiest journey, but it is a most meaningful one. Have a great afternoon ahead.