Building Excellence through Cycle of Improvement

Building Excellence through Cycle of Improvement

The story went that Rabbit and Turtle had a race… felt over-confident with an early lead and fell asleep under the cosy tree, and Turtle won the race.  That was the part that everybody heard and everybody knew. But do you know how bad rabbit felt after the race?

Rabbit was the top athlete of the animal world, but he was defeated, disrepute and disgraced. He repented,  learnt from his mistake and challenged turtle for a rematch. This time round, he didn’t stop.  Like Usain Bolt, Rabbit sped all the way, never looked back, never stopped, and all the way to the finish line. Turtle didn’t have a chance

Turtle being forever wise and patient, start to think, think and think, and he thought of a strategy. He invited Rabbit for a rematch. Rabbit ran like a bullet until he reached the river. He couldn’t swim! So all he could only stood there and watch Turtle slowly crawled… and swam and crawled to the finish line. Turtle too learnt from his mistake, improved his edge and has created the first aquathlon in the animal world. And so the saga continues between the two.

You see, excellence requires continuous effort to do better. Like Rabbit and Turtle, they build upon their past experience, learn from mistakes and boost their performance one step at a time.

And you can do it too. Regardless of your goal and destination, there is a tried and tested way to make cycle of improvement.  There are 4 steps –  PLAN, DO, CHECK, ACT



Plan is about knowing what you want, then plan how to get there.

When I first joined Toastmasters Club, Eng Lye told me that I need to plan in advance, because the speech slots got snatched up early. Being a greedy person, I thought, since I paid $218 per year for membership – 2 practices per year means $100 per practice, 4 practices per year means $50 per practice… 8 practices per year means ……$25 per practice! If I make 24 practices per year  then it will be peanuts!!!

So I planned for 1 speech a month, alternate with appointment slots. Book all the way, 6 months in advance. With that I completed my CTM within 1 year.

Is it possible to achieve our goal without planning? It is still possible, but it is leaving things to chance. If I do my speech depending on mood, then I may not have the mood, or when I have the mood but Susi has no slots, or before I have the mood, my wife ask me out for movie. Success becomes then a random affair.

Plan for it if you truly want success. Don’t leave things to chance.


Next step is do.  It is about bringing what is on your mind, and on paper, into the reality.   Just like this paper airplane in my hand, can it be created if no one does the folding? 

Can there be a swimmer, who has never done the swimming? Or  a good trainer who has never done the training?  Or a successful farmer, who has never done the farming?

The turtle carried out his strategy, making it a reality and out-matched Rabbit. He tasted victory.

Likewise, you can also carry out your plan, and achieve success.

Reserving speech slots without actually doing the speech will not bring you anywhere. We need to prepare, rehearse, and deliver the speech. We need to grow from the tears, toil and sweat. We need to overcome the fear by  facing the fear straight on. If there is no doing, there is no progress, and there will be no fruit.


After doing, it will be time to check the results.  What was done right? What was done wrong? Are you on-track? It is we, looking at ourselves in the mirror.

In Toastmasters club, you could receive feedback from evaluator, the feedback form and we can also ask our peers for their comments. 

At work, you can look at the Key Performance Indicators.  You can ask the subject matters experts for opinions. Or you can also ask your boss, customers, participants for feedback. 

There are always ways to find out how well we are doing.

Seek and you will find; ask and you will get; measure and you will know the figure.


After knowing, it is time for action. It will be your choice, of whether you want to make changes to improve, or you want to stay status quo.

In the Toastmasters arena, there are Toastmasters who always speak at the same level of proficiency, repeating the same mistakes. And there are those who take each feedback seriously and you notice progress at each project. It is a personal choice.

If progress is what you want, then identify the problem or the weakness, and set-out to plan for change.  If vocal variety is the issue, practice on the voice – there are many resources out there that teach you how to do it.

The cycle of improvement continues in a PDCA fashion, creating a spiral of progress until you arrive at your destination.


Plan-Do-Check-Act is the formula for cycle of improvement which Rabbit and Turtle applied in their competition to great effect. Successful companies like Toyota, Honda and many others use it to improve their performance. And you too, can apply in your personal life, in toastmasters at work to realize success.  Is there a goal that you want to achieve?

Go ahead! Use Plan-Do-Check-Act to help you  build excellence through cycle of improvement


The Highlights & The Delights (22-Jun-2013)

The Highlights  &  The Delights

22nd June 2013 Saturday

Final Chapter Meeting (2012-2013) cum Family Party



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Susiwati Ta, the meeting Sergeant at Arms requested everyone without party hats to gather at the front.  They had to dance to the song “YMCA”.  The most energetic and enthusiastic dancer was presented with a token.  The surprise winner was Richard Sng!

A montage of past club meetings and events, to the accompaniment of Indian music, brought nostalgic memories to the members and guests.

Many were informally dressed (for once!) and geared in colourful dresses and hats.


Toastmaster of the Day

Pan Wei You, delighted to be casually dressed, for once, in T-shirt and safari hat, guided us through the afternoon’s programme.


Opening Address by Club President

Soh Siew Wee, in her final Presidential speech, offered her gratitude, acknowledgement and appreciation to her executive committee, club members, advisers and past presidents for their support and co-operation.


Prepared Speeches


Zhang Hong Liang, in his P1 Ice Breaker speech “Unforgettable Memories” was well-groomed in long sleeves and tie.  No script was used.  He was spontaneous in his speech delivery.  A standing ovation was given to him.  Bravo!

“Honesty Pays at the End of the Day” was Karen Moke’s P4 How to Say It speech, presented before her spouse and three children.


Speech Evaluations

Evaluator:                            Speech presented by:

Albert Anto                           Zhang Hong Liang

Richard Sng                          Karen Moke             


Commendations and recommendations were dispensed to the speakers.          


Birthday Celebration

Yani was the only member present to blow the candle on the birthday cake.  Jamil and Shan were unable to attend.  Tay Juet Hui conducted the segment.


Just 4 (For) Laughs

Some light-hearted moments and laughter filled the air as Richard Sng dished out doses of jokes and anecdotes.


Game Time

Lian Jinxing, our game master led us through “007” and “Scissors, Paper, Stone”.  Fun, laughter and noisy, boisterous banter came from the children and adults!


Fun with Table Topics

Kenny Lim had no short of volunteers, including the children! Dharshana (Krishnan’s daughter), Jason (Yani’s son), Charlene (a bubbly guest), Soumya (guest), Tay Juet Hui, Krishnan, Albert Anto, Ken (a Japanese guest), Ho Eng Lye and Pan Wei You braved the topics and took the challenge.  Hurray!


Listening Master

Ta Susiwati enticed us with Kit Kat and Toblerone chocolates to test our listening and memory skills.  Obviously, some were left empty-handed!  Listen, guys!


Language Evaluation

To lighten the mood and lessen the stress, this segment was left out.



Karen Moke, with the enthusiasm of her assistant, son Samson had control to be the time-master.


Ah Counter

Everyone was spared to be mentioned the culprits of the ah-er-erhm irritants.


Awards                                              Presented to:

Better Speech                                  Karen Moke 

Better Evaluation                            Richard Sng

Best Table Topic                              Krishnan Venugopal


Refreshment Break

Thank you Soh Siew Wee, for the scrumptious chicken, eggs, fragrant rice and barley with white fungus you lovingly cooked for us. We had mini apples, too.


Our other guests included Phobus Sng, Piius Sng, Sam, Samuel, Samantha, Carol (Karen’s spouse, children and sister), Anil, Krishnan’s spouse and son.

Ta Susiwati, Karen Moke and Richard Sng had to take on more than one role as some members chose to remain at home because of the haze.

It was a fun, fruitful and fulfilling afternoon.


Contributed by:  Richard Sng, Club Secretary

This is my final report for the minutes of club meetings.  It has been challenging but interesting, having to be a project evaluator, language evaluator or other meeting role holder, while having to observe, listen and take down the minutes of the meeting.





The Highlights & The Delights (8-Jun-2013)

The Highlights  &  The Delights

8th June 2013 Saturday



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Susiwati Ta, the meeting Sergeant at Arms requested everyone to share “What interesting thing have you never done?”  Responses varied from to ice skate like Michelle Kwan, climb Mt Everest, see the Pyramids, do the waltz, scuba dive and attain nirvana.


Toastmaster of the Day

Kevin Tan, captained and steered the meeting energetically and animatedly.


Opening Address by Club President

Soh Siew Wee presented the fathers in the room, David Kow, Tay Juet Hui and Richard Sng, with a rose each.  How thoughtful.  She related the anecdote of the camel questioning the reasons of its long eyelashes, a big back, the hump, and thick soles. When told their usefulness, she retorted, “Why am I still in the zoo and not in the desert?”

Father camel replied, “We are serving our masters to attract visitors and generate revenues.”  The moral: Review the circumstances we are in – not to expect – not able to fulfil our potential?  Change our attitude and perspectives! 


Prepared Speeches

Alison Chan, in her P2 Organise Your Speech “Those Days during H1N1″, shared the fateful day of 13th May.  It was well-researched and prepared. The symptoms, helpful tips and advice were highlighted.  Her message: Remember to exercise, watch our diet and take supplements.

“Building Excellence through Cycle of …” was David Kow’s P2 speech – his speaking journey.  This is his second round of the Competent Communicator.

Karen Moke’s P3 Get to the Point, with colourful and beautiful slides, was a lesson on the history of “Bubble Tea”.

“Positive Thinking” was Li Hairong’s P10 Inspire Your Audience courageous sharing of her adversities. Much was revealed of what she had to go through.

Serena Ho, from Civil Service College TMC also presented P10 “What We Live For”.  It was very personalized – the quarrels and the conflicts. 


Speech Evaluations

Evaluator:                            Speech presented by:

Richard Sng                          Alison Chan             

Tay Juet Hui                          David Kow

Linda Lam*                           Karen Moke             

Susiwati Ta                            Li Hairong

Richard Sng                          Serena Ho*  

Useful and helpful feedback was offered for the speakers to reflect and consider.


Special Talk: “What Is Next After CC?”

Kenny Lim detailed the various (15) Advanced Communication manuals for newer members to ponder and consider, upon achieving the CC title.


Tongue Twister

Karen Moke’s son, Samson Ho, was an eleventh hour replacement for Karinna Boey.  He had a few of us twisted our tongues with tricky, alliterative words.


Induction Ceremony

Zhang Hong Liang, our latest member, was officially initiated into the club.


Fun with Table Topics

Tay Juet Hui had Karen Moke, Linda Lam, Zhang Hong Liang, Alison Chan and Li Hairong to speak on Disneyland, the car, the motorcycle, savings and overeating.


Table Topics Evaluation

David Kow offered his take on the performance of the speakers.


Language Evaluation

Due to the tight programme, this important and useful segment was skipped.



Zhang Hong Liang had the opportunity to exercise this time-executioner role.


Ah Counter

Soh Siew Wee was rather lenient as the ah-er-erm master.


Awards                                              Presented to:

Best Speech                                      Li Hairong & Serena Ho

Best Evaluation                                Richard Sng

Best Table Topic                              Linda Lam*


Refreshment Break

Thank you Soh Siew Wee, for getting us the refreshments.

It was a programme packed with numerous special items (FIVE!) which are rare in other clubs.

Soh Siew Wee, Kevin Tan, Ta Susiwati, David Kow, Tay Juet Hui and Richard Sng had to take on more than one role. 



Contributed by:  Richard Sng, Club Secretary