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3 Apr 2015

Never Ask People to Do Anything

The past one week of mourning for Singapore's founding father and first prime minster Lee Kuan Yew teach us one thing: never order people to do anything. Get them to volunteer instead. 

To manage the big crowds of people queueing to pay their last respect to Mr Lee when his body was lying in state at the Parliament House from Wednesday to Saturday (25 to 27 March 2015), the government did not:
  • Issue orders to the SAF soldiers to work overtime 
  • Ask the private sector to donate food, drinks and umbrellas to the people in queue
  • Get any ministers to speak to ask people to come out and help
  • Ask people to queue up orderly for 10 hours
  • Issue any rule on how to behave while in queue (like what clothes to wear, not to take pictures or videos etc)
Instead what we saw were:
  • Non-stop queues of people forming 24 hours since Wednesday 25 March 2015 until Saturday 28 March 2015
  • Many thousands in queue for more than 10 hours just to pay less than 10 seconds of respect
  • No one complain about the long queues at all
  • No one fight over queues
  • Private organizations coming up to offer their free food, drinks, umbrellas, portable chairs etc to relieve the stress felt by the people in long queues
  • Voluntary organizations like Lions Clubs of Singapore distributing free steamed Japanese sweet potatoes to the people in queue from Friday 27 March 2015 10 pm onwards
  • Everyone queueing up orderly with no fights or quarrels over queues
  • SAF soliders going beyond their duty time and call of duties, with some working non-stop for 2 to 3 days in a stretch
  • Etc etc
This shows that the best way to get anything done in this world is never to tell people but to get people to come out and do it themselves.  How does it apply to your work and business?
  1. In sales, never tell your customers how good your product is, and never ask them to buy. Instead attract them with how you can serve and help them and they will come out and buy on their own
  2. In people management, never tell your people to work hard.  Get them to work hard with a strong attractor factor, like an empowering vision or mission
  3. In leadership, never lead from the top, get people to work all the way at their top
  4. In customer service, never serve customer all the way, get customers to serve themselves all the way
By Andy Ng of Asia Trainers, details of courses at here. Related articles on Lee Kuan Yew:

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