HCLI Research
Published 1 October 2017

As we enter the last quarter of the year, let us take a few minutes to reflect on what we have accomplished so far in 2017. And identify what we want to still get done before December 31st.  

For me, reflection takes time. I am not someone who immediately decides how I feel about change, or even what I think about the latest book I have read or movie I have watched (The Secret History by Donna Tartt and The Big Sick, respectively). I often wish I was faster at making up my mind, but sometimes taking time leads to good ideas and interesting connections.

In late September, we hosted over 400 attendees for the Singapore Human Capital Summit. Over two days, attendees heard from experts, business and HR leaders, thought leaders, and academics (most speakers wore more than one hat!). From the sessions, two thoughts have stayed with me:

  1. The skill of problem solving is becoming less important. What is replacing this? Problem finding: finding latent problems, hidden problems, and what problems are coming from around the corner. – from Dan Pink’s session, “Leadership and the New Principles of Influence”.
  2. Great leaders distinguish between dilemmas and problems. If money and time will not solve the issue, then it is a dilemma. Dilemmas require a different type of thinking. – from Fons Trompenaars’ session, “The Power of ‘And’”.

During a catch-up last month with a contact who is an early-stage investor, I asked how many hours he estimated that he worked each week. He responded by saying that meetings do not count as work. For him, thinking is work. And he spends almost the same number of hours thinking as most people spend in their 9-to-6 job. For me, this relates to Dan Pink’s statement that problem finding is replacing problem solving. And to Fons Trompenaars’ point that we need to identify whether issues are problems or dilemmas. Discovery requires deep thinking.

What do you make of this?

As always, I want to hear your thoughts. Please email me at and tell me if you agree or disagree with what I have said, or how you define work. Until then, I hope you enjoy the content that we share in October!

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