Chief Coach & Founder
Lifecycle Pte. Ltd. (Singapore)
I am an independent coach, trainer, facilitator and consultant that works with organizations, teams and individuals on complex business and workplace challenges.
I am many professionals in one: I deliver work by integrating my expertise in Behavioral Coaching, Process Coaching (Design Thinking, Agile Scrum, Lean Startup) and Organization Development, and my combined 25+ years of front-line business experience as former banker and current serial startup entrepreneur.
- Behavioral Coaching: I am an International Coaching Federation curriculum trained coach specialized in Positive Psychology. I incorporate in my coaching many learnings from classic and contemporary behavioral science, including Conversational Intelligence, Non-Violent Communication, Radical Candor, Choice Theory, Theory X & Y and habit formation.
- Process Coaching: I am an experienced practitioner of Design Thinking, Agile Scrum and Lean Startup from my many startup projects. I use Liberating Structures for facilitation work, and also am a certified Lego® Serious Play® facilitator.
- Organization Development (OD): I see organizations from five view points: people, process, structure, product & client. Most organizations are well resourced (although efficacy is another question) for the latter two commercial focuses (product & client), so I bring the spotlight to the first three areas for Organizational Capability building (people, process, structure).
Further, I work with organizations on bringing drive to the operational and delivery aspects of Organizational Change, Digital Transformation and Innovation programs. My take is that there’s enough planning and thinking in these programs, but not enough effort in the execution, hence the focus.
- Industry Expertise: Prior to becoming a learning professional, I was a career banker between 1994~2011, with significant fixed income transaction experience across Japan, Asia and global Emerging Markets. Since 2011 I have been a serial startup entrepreneur, particularly in the fintech space as I maintain close relationship with the banking and insurance industry.
I see two recurring patterns in where my coachees find insights (i.e. the “aha!” moments during coaching sessions) for impactful behavioral change: developing what I call complexity handling and enabling conversation skills.
- Complexity Handling: Among the simple-complicated-complex-chaotic spectrum, we often confuse the difference between complicated and complex, and make the common error of using tools and processes meant for complicated tasks, to complex work. Further, we often become overwhelmed and make simple and complicated things complex (and even out of hand – chaotic). Agile Scrum, Design Thinking, Lean Startup are all frameworks and approaches developed for handling complex work, and I make good use of the learnings from the field to coach complexity handling.
- Enabling Conversations: Despite the decades of advances in behavioral and cognitive science, we are still trapped in the use of controlling language. Often, catalyst moments in coaching sessions come when coachees discover the true power of inquiry and dialogue. The challenge is how to sustain that revelation – we are creature of habits, and habits are hard to change. The focus is on the practicing, and I make many references to old and new literature on human sciences for coaching enabling conversation skills.
Meanwhile, I am an ardent advocate of learning organizations, and central to this is the practice of self-organization.
- Self-Organization: Without activating the collective intelligence of the team, developing complex products in today’s evolving technological landscape is an impossibility. And self-organization is a consistent trait observed in high performing teams. Yet again as we are so ingrained in command and control culture, self-organization does not come naturally to most teams. It takes some good coaching and organizational alignment to de-learn the many old habits that we hold, yet with a lot of optimism (it doesn’t hurt to be a Positive Psychology coach!) and respect to our intrinsic drive for autonomy, purpose and mastery, I am confident that change for self-organization can happen with every team.
I conduct workshops and lectures at my alma mater INSEAD’s executive program, and my clients tend to be multinationals and regional large corporates. But I love working with individuals, startup teams, SMEs, and public services too. I am frequently involved in innovation programs between financial institutions and fintechs, as I come from that background.
Career, Education & Qualifications
2011 – Present: Lifecycle Pte. Ltd., Founder (Singapore)
2009 – 2011: Barclays Bank, Director (Singapore & Tokyo, Global Markets)
2004 – 2009: Deutsche Bank, Director (Singapore & Tokyo, Global Markets)
2002 – 2004: Bank of America, VP (Tokyo, Global Markets)
1994 – 2001: Morgan Stanley (Tokyo, Investment Banking, Asset Management)
2001 – 2002: INSEAD, MBA, Freshfields Scholarship (France)
1990 – 1994: International Christian University, BA, Liberal Arts (Tokyo)
Professional Scrum Master, Product Owner (PSM II, PSPO), Scrum.org (credential)
Certified LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator, Association of Master Trainers in the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method (credential)
CCC (Certified Competent Coach, School of Coaching Mastery, credential)
CPPC in progress (Certified Positive Psychology Coach, International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches)
ICF ACC in assessment (International Coaching Federation, Associate Certified Coach, application submitted Jan 2020)
Confucius’ 7 spaces of learning Knowing to stop – is a simple notion but difficult to practice skill. In “Great Learning (大学)”, written around 2,500 years ago by one of his first disciples Zengzi (曾子),... Read More
Classic Scrum’s Achilles’ heel One of the weak areas of classic Scrum, in my opinion, is the relative simplicity of the ideation phase. “What to build” is sometimes an arbitrary discussion during the Scrum Backlog... Read More
In search of better feedbacking As a coach and mentor, challenging people is a natural part of my work, and sometimes they are in the form of tough messages. Not always though, the messages go... Read More
Glossary: Lean, Agile, Scrum, Sprint, Kanban Consider Lean & Agile as pretty much the same thing, they are basically really good approaches to handling projects with a lot of uncertainties, which is why successful startups... Read More
Pilot objective Within the Scrum community, there is abundant writing suggesting that the two main factors of Scrum implementation failure are: (1) sub-optimal team structure at the onset, and (2) the Scrum Team failing to... Read More
Why brainstorming doesn’t work That was fun, but… Why do we get that slight, lingering feeling of doubt and dissatisfaction after brainstorming sessions? Here’s why: Group dynamics: 80/20 rule applies. Domination: The vocal minority dominate... Read More
A tribute post to Professor Clayton Christensen, author of “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (1997), who passed away after a long illness. I am a big fan of Organizational Ambidexterity, made famous by Charles O’Reilly (Stanford) and... Read More
The Irony of Delivering Agile Transformation with Waterfall Agile and digital transformation projects are abundant today. The irony is that too frequently, they are planned and delivered in essentially waterfall project management style. Waterfall is... Read More
Knowledge is for consumption. This is my street philosophy, but I really abide to this. I really, really like to practice what I learn. Practice – both in the application sense, and in the repeat... Read More
#1 Cause of Startup Death? Premature Scaling This is what INSEAD professor Nathan Furr said in a 2011 Forbes article. I can attest it still holds so true: premature scaling is startup death. Steve Blank... Read More
Frustrations about others, are (not surprisingly) frequent topics of my coaching conversations. The clarifying question “So, what are you frustrated about him/her?” is often answered with a mix of (1) unmet needs and what I... Read More
In coaching enabling conversation skills, I find Karpman’s Drama Triangle (1968) very useful. (1) Blaming, shaming and guilt tripping, (2) victim mentality and (3) “chief problem solving officer” are three recurring patterns of impediments to... Read More