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 a Certified Positive Psychology Coach (CPPC) and International Coach Federation Associate Certified Coach (ICF ACC). 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 Agile Scrum (Scrum.org PSM II, PSPO), Design Thinking 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).
- 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.
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.
Performing teams have processes that work, and people that talk to each other. It’s that simple but organizational reality shows otherwise. I help leaders and teams learn complexity handling and enabling conversation skills to make this simple thing work.
- 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)
Certified LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitator, Association of Master Trainers in the LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Method (credential)
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
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
What is agile? Why agile? How do we do agile? What’s the difference between Agile, Scrum, Lean, Design Thinking? Tell me about Scrum. Is agile a fad? What’s the difference between Agile and agility? All... Read More
On the recurring, practical question of what to do when there are missing skills and expertise in the cross-functional Scrum Team: Yes, it’s true that the Scrum Guide says “Cross-functional teams have all competencies needed... Read More
There’s one HBR article that I share but never hear back about. It’s Chris Argyris’ “Teaching Smart People How to Learn” (https://hbr.org/1991/05/teaching-smart-people-how-to-learn). Maybe it’s the intimidating title that ticks off the interest to read. Or... Read More
So you had some great customer interviews as part of your Design Thinking exercise. You felt that you empathized well with the customers and generated awesome insight. Wonderful. Before your memory evaporates you’d want to... Read More
KISS, an acronym for “keep it simple, stupid” or “keep it stupid simple”, is a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they... Read More
1. Breathe Know to stop. Stop. Take a deep breath. Slowly regulate your breathing. Our mind and body is an amazing system. Breathing is the most simple, immediate, no-need-for-tool intervention available to us in times... Read More