Singapore – Wednesday, The Hypothesis is . . .

By: Phil Gibbs, Principal, The Disruption Lab

Sometimes it is more difficult to write when you have too much to say rather than too little. We went from setting the context for understanding innovation in Singapore on Monday to diving in on Tuesday to fighting the riptide of information overload on Wednesday. Much of the detail will have to wait, but today was focused on the Singapore startup community along with a visit with one of Singapore’s healthcare innovation leaders. Here are three quick observations:

“The hypothesis is . . .”

The Woodlands Health Campus is a new 1800 bed integrated health campus that is being developed and will feature many innovative approaches to care delivery. We met with Dr. Stephen Chan who is providing leadership in the areas of innovation and information for the launch of the hospital. Twice in our discussion with Dr. Chan, he used the phrase, “The hypothesis is . . .” which reflected a deep grounding in improvement and innovation. Most of us tend to say, “Our approach to that . . .” or “Our solution for that is . . .” Experienced innovators start with a hypothesis, not a solution. It requires an understanding of process improvement, the PDSA experimentation methodology, the work of W. Edwards Deming, Lean, and other foundations of innovation, as Dr. Chan confirmed when questioned about his use of the phrase. Anyone just starting with innovation projects without this foundation is like treating a physical symptom without a foundation in medicine.

Startups at Scale and at Lunch

We started the day at the Jurong Innovation District (JID) which is one of two large, integrated innovation districts. We learned about JTC Launchpad and the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE). Singapore essentially has innovation ecosystems of ecosystems. Simply take a look at the image at the top, which is the lunch crowd at JID to get a feel for the scope of the startup and innovation community in this global city.

When the CEO is the “Search Engine” Behind the Bot

We ended the day meeting with Dot Koh, Founder and CEO of Bot MD, a startup addressing the exponential growth of medical knowledge and the physician’s access to the information. Bot MD has been through Y Combinator and includes iconic Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Lean Startup founder Steve Blank as an investor. Dot’s story is every entrepreneur’s story. The earliest versions of the product, before it was really even a product, included Dot being the search engine. When someone would inquire, she would do a Google search to come up with the response. Such is the life of an innovator and entrepreneur. By the way, their competition is IBM Watson with its thousands of employees. It would be a mistake to underestimate Bot MD in this competition!

More to follow about Wednesday’s information overload.

Phil is the founding Principal of The Disruption Lab, where he focuses on disruptive innovation and corporate growth. For over a decade, he led Executive Learning, one of the country’s leading firms supporting continual improvement (sustaining and efficiency innovation), particularly in healthcare, and including work with industry leader HCA and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI).

His entrepreneurial experience includes co-founding multiple companies, including E|SPACES and LifeFilez. In addition to his startup experience, Phil has served as a principal in an early-stage investment firm and worked in/consulted with multiple large organizations, including the Oak Ridge National Laboratory early in his career. His interest in innovation began with his doctoral research at The Ohio State University focused on understanding how organizations achieve both high productivity and high innovation.

You can connect with or ask Phil a question through The Disruption Lab community at


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