Return to Singapore
by Lilian Myers, EconomyFour Chief Firestarter
It’s such a delight to be back in Singapore again this week just at the moment of our official launch of EconomyFour. I love this city and the incredible work that’s gone on here by the government around age and longevity.
The last time I was here, almost exactly two years ago, it was in my role as the global leader for aging and longevity at IBM. I and colleagues from health, research, and corporate responsibility hosted and conducted a well-attended design-thinking workshop with participation by many global and local enterprises aimed at rethinking the context of age in housing, workforce, consumerism, and wellbeing.
Singapore has done exemplary work in personifying the broad array of citizens over 50. The country has published multiple, informative, guides on its widely diverse citizens to help focus efforts from urban and rural planning to housing affordability, healthcare, and workforce participation. The sponsorship of the Ministry of Health in the workshops was just one more case of how important the topic is considered in the country’s ability to continue its long history of economic prosperity and citizen engagement.
An interesting observation in that work; indeed in the most progressive societies, a failure to involve the private sector in early thinking about demographic change impacts might perpetuate misunderstandings and biases – even causing the private sector to step back from involvement. That was my takeaway from the workshops and their outcomes which differed wildly from others I’d led in different markets where companies were innovating for their benefit rather than seeing the effort as one that was for the generating ideas generated for government action.
A recent report, Singapore – The 2018 Aging Readiness & Competitiveness Report: Small Innovative Economies, published this year by AARP and FP Analytics, cites the same general issue while it also covers the depth of all the critical work going on along so many fronts.
But that’s why I’m so excited to be back in Singapore! I’m here to participate as a speaker in The Economist Events Longevity Summit on Thursday, September 27th. I was invited because I have a point of view on how private sector businesses are missing the potential to jump in the game and play an essential role in social innovation. That is to think differently, to look at the market of people over 50 with the same depth and dimension the country of Singapore has, and to recognize that by shedding institutionalized ageism they’ll both gain the advantage of a huge and growing source of revenue and at the same time will be instrumental in changing social perspectives.
It’s this kind of massive shift required to ensure that we start solving not just for the emergencies in health and social systems but in the lives of people living longer and longer lives. It’s solving for the future, not just the present. And necessary to innovation for a multi-generational workforce, inclusion, lifelong learning, economic growth, technical and social invention and so much more.
Many thanks to The Economist for inviting me to participate, and I’m so pleased to see my old colleagues and experience, yet again, the place I’ve visited and learned from many times over the years. Singapore!