About trains and companies

I live outside the city and I hate paying for parking (and I am also environmentally conscious), which means that when I have to visit my downtown clients I use the train. I don’t know about your area, but in mine taking short distance trains is a risky sport (breakdowns, delays and all those classics). Last week, while waiting on the platform, I thought that it is impossible to solve the problems linked to the operation of the short-distance rail network if you never take a suburban train, if you never experience this. In other words, if you don’t use this transport (even sporadically), how can you understand what a 7am service malfunction implies in all its magnitude? Just as building a train doesn’t mean you know how to drive it, and being able to design the track layout doesn’t mean you have chosen the most efficient route for passengers, creating an overall rail network management strategy is pointless if you don’t have the user’s perspective.

This is not only true for rail. It happens, for example, with the design of airports (especially the area where private vehicles and taxis drop off and pick up passengers) or in the design of many hospitals. Taxi drivers and nurses, respectively, are rarely or never asked for their opinion, and priority is given to an “expert” mind that usually designs something chaotic. And, of course, this also happens in a large number of companies of all sizes and in all sectors. Business strategies are often drawn up without asking people in operations (where business actually happens). Countless times I see external profiles, sitting next to me on the plane, copying and pasting “transformation project” decks and changing logos (but I don’t meet them in warehouses, on production lines or opening delivery boxes in a shop to properly understand the experience of their project’s final user). Countless times, an arrogant mind thinks that he or she can draw up a successful strategy without the people that have to be in charge of turning that strategy into reality. And, behind each of these cases, there is always a failed strategy, tool or process, which is useless because it is not operational and leads to a waste of time, money, opportunity, credibility of the person launching it and, in short, results.
The solution is quite simple (and not for the sake of simplicity, obvious. As Da Vinci said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”). Let’s ask ourselves who is at the end of what we are drawing and let’s involve them from the beginning. At a time when the words “collaboration” and “transversality” appear on every organisation’s list of values, let’s put them into practice in earnest by making strategies and projects that link all levels of the organisation, from strategy to operations. Of course, let’s count on external professionals to contribute, but mixed with internal teams that give coherence and actionability to what is being created. Because making our train run well is everyone’s responsibility.

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