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Singapore & COVID-19

There’s a piece in Nikkei Asia about Singapore’s response to COVID-19. They’ve made it harder for foreigners to obtain work visas, which is a natural response. Singapore has done a great job of managing their diversity to keep an open society, but there have been complaints that they’re tightening things too much to hire locals.

People who live in Singapore probably have more rights to talk about this than I do, but I want to point out something. If you look at great revivals in countries—like the revival of Russia and Peter the Great, or the revival of Japan and the Meiji Restoration—all of it involved going out and finding skills that didn’t already exist in that country.

When Peter the Great realized that Russia was far behind the European nations in terms of warfare and iron manufacturing, he went to Scandinavian nations and hired the best people at making these alloys so he could outfit his armies and bring knowhow into Russia.

When Japan was trying to rebuild itself, it used Germany as a blueprint. Much of Japan’s strategy—how to set up the administrative structure, the army—came from studying Germany.

The barometer of success is always collective. We all want to progress, and we all want to be successful, but sometimes you have to bring in external skills if you don’t have the capacity to develop it—or if you don’t have the capacity to develop it in sufficient time with acceptable costs.

This is an excerpt from Monday Morning 8 a.m. newsletter, issue #4.

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