Never Fail to Innovate
Meet our innovative champions, Koh Keng Hun, Executive Consultant (Agile Consultancy and Engineering), and Natasha Low, Senior Consultant (Digital Design and Development) from GovTech’s Government Digital Services (GDS) team.
Keng Hun (above, main photo, in blue shirt) won Gold while Natasha won Bronze in the Innovation Champion category at the recent MCI Family Innovation Awards 2017.
TechNews buzzed them to share their thoughts on innovation — and their trade secrets for channeling innovation each day at work.
Q: What’s your day job in GDS like?
Keng Hun: I lead a team of quality engineers (QE) who look after the software quality of the apps we develop in GDS.
We make sure the apps are functionally sound, secure and able to withstand the anticipated amount of traffic or load.
One key project was integrating a few open source test automation frameworks and productising it into hats (Hive Agile Testing Solutions), a platform that enables us to run simultaneous functionality tests on mobile and web versions of a particular app.
This will benefit government agencies that need to test out new apps in GDS, by removing the need to perform manual testing.
Natasha: Summing up my day job as a Senior UX (User Experience) Designer, it would be meetings, meetings, and more meetings!
A typical day for me could start off with meeting or engaging agencies who are interested to find out how their digital services could be improved, followed by meetings with my team mates to check in on their projects’ progress.
Finally, a different kind of ‘meeting’, which is meeting deadlines for my current projects!
These could range from facilitating a focus group to preparing the script for a usability testing session to designing a prototype.
One of the milestones for the UX team is the recent completion of the re-design of the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore’s myTaxPortal’s suite of e-services.
This was a long but fruitful journey where we had to liaise with IRAS internal stakeholders, understand citizens’ user journey, develop prototypes and put them through rigorous usability tests to validate the UX design.
Q: How do you feel about being recognised in the MCI Family Innovation Awards 2017 for the “Innovation Champion” category?
Keng Hun: It is really an honour to receive the Gold award because there are so many great and deserving innovators in MCI family.
I think I was just lucky!
Seriously, I am really proud that my work was recognised by the panel. I would like to take this opportunity to extend the award to my QE colleagues who have helped and contributed in one way or another.
We have an awesome QE team in GDS!
Natasha: I am very honoured to have been considered for the category alongside other talented colleagues from the MCI family.
Truth be told, it would never have happened if not for the mentorship of my Deputy Director, Eyung Lim, and support of my team mates.
Q: How you seek to be an “Innovation Champion” in your daily work?
Keng Hun: I always strive to challenge the status quo.
I believe if we do not change the way we do things, innovation will not happen. Innovation requires an open and think-out-of-the-box mindset in order to be sparked.
I always believe in this mantra, “To improve things, you must CHANGE!”.
Natasha: I am always thinking about how to best advocate good UX practices amongst agencies, so I would give talks and run workshops whenever my schedule permits, of course.
I have even turned a set of design principles into flash cards, as my “teaching tool” for agencies to use when designing or evaluating their user interfaces. The cards are fun to use!
Q: What’s your personal definition of Innovation?
Keng Hun: Innovation is about the passion to create a better tomorrow, improving the way we do things — making it easier, simpler and time efficient.
Natasha: Innovation does not always equate to new tools or technology; it can also be about improving upon ideas and processes.
Simply put, let’s make things more efficient (for users).
Q: The public sector is too bureaucratic to be innovative. Discuss!
Natasha: Definitely not! Just look at the wonderful work that GovTech has done, for example, the myResponder app that we developed jointly with the Singapore Civil Defence Force that has helped saved numerous lives.
The app was designed and developed based on user needs and perspective.
Keng Hun: Regardless of public or private sector, I do think bureaucratic or process-oriented organisations to some extent do create an impediment for the individual to be innovative.
Having said that, I think as long as the organisation embraces the culture of “no fear” towards failure, there is always room for us to innovate. Fear of failing is the biggest threat towards innovation.
Also, innovation doesn’t mean your idea has to create a big impact to your work.
Small, innovative ideas can also bring about meaningful impact to the individual’s or organisation’s work.