The world was ‘speeding up’ and modes of transportation were under pressure to keep pace.
As the old saying goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ and with the ‘McAdam’ road building technique well
established, in 1872 at the age of 38, Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler and his life-long business partner, Wilhelm Maybach went to work at a company in Cologne, half owned by Nikolaus Otto. This company Deutz-AG-Gasmotorenfabrik
was at the time, the world’s largest manufacturer of ‘stationary’ engines. As technical director, Daimler helped Otto focus on gas engine development with Maybach acting as chief designer.
In 1876, the ‘Four-stroke cycle’ (known as the Otto cycle – comprising the 4 stages, Induction, Compression, Power, Exhaust) was invented.
Separately in Mannheim, unknown to the trio, Karl Benz was concentrating on the development of a two-stroke gas engine. Benz finished his engine on December 31, 1878, and was granted a patent for his engine in 1879.
Having broken away from Otto for personal reasons (Two’s company, three’s a crowd), 1885 saw Daimler and Maybach design a precursor to the modern petrol (gasoline) engine which they subsequently fitted to a two-wheeler, the first internal combustion motorcycle & in the next year, to a stagecoach, and a boat. The rest as they say (Ford, his model ‘T’ and 40 years later, ‘Toyoda’ / ‘Toyota’ … et al), is history.
To utilise these advancing global technological advances in transportation, the idea of an orbital road around London was first proposed early in the 20th century (as far back as 1905) and then re-examined in Sir Charles Bressey's and Sir Edwin Lutyens ‘The Highway Development Survey, 1937’.
When the M25 as we know it today 1st became a firm plan, the route was subject to no fewer than 39 public enquiries lasting a total of more than 700 sitting days.
In October 2011, the M25 was 25 years old.
Soon after the motorway opened in 1986 traffic levels exceeded maximum designed capacity.
In 1990 the Secretary of State for Transport announced plans to widen the whole of the M25 to four lanes. By 1993 the motorway that was designed for a maximum of 88,000 vehicles per day was carrying 200,000; 15% of UK motorway traffic volume was on the M25 at that time and there were plans to add 6 lanes to the section from Junction 12 to 15 as well as widening the rest of the motorway to 4 lanes.
In 2006 the Highways Agency proposed to widen 63 miles (101 km) of M25 from six to eight lanes, between junctions 5–6 and 16–30 as part of a Design, Build, Finance and Operate (DBFO) project. A shortlist of contractors was announced in October 2006 for the project which was expected to cost £4.5 billion.
Pending a change of government, contractors were asked to resubmit their bids in January 2008 and in June 2009 the new transport minister indicated that the cost had risen to £5.5 billion. The benefit to cost ratio had dropped considerably as a result and in January 2009 the government announced that the plans to widen the sections from Junction 5–7 and from 23–27 had been 'scrapped' and that hard shoulder running would be introduced instead. However widening has been reinstated to four lanes in the 2013-14 Highways Agency Business Plan.
Nationally, we make 61 billion journeys a year, more than 1,000 a year for every person. Road congestion costs the economy an officially estimated £7-8 billion a year.
Source: Department of Transport
With a rich history of evolution over the last couple of hundred years, and a need for strategic planning to keep pace with increasing demand, a motorway like the M25 is, in many ways, just like a business.
A 5% cut in travel time would save businesses £2.5 billion a year.
Source: Government-commissioned transport study by Sir Rod Eddington
At a basic level, the motorway is an organisation of machines, operated by humans, trying to perform various activities, requiring inputs & support services (petrol, electric, food, drink, slip-roads, education, training for new drivers, tarmac & contractors, lighting, barrier repairs, vehicle manufacturers, insurance companies, police, the judicial system… etc.)
Road users pay £32 billion a year in tax but only £8billion of that is spent on improving and maintaining the system.
Source: David Smith, Sunday Times 2nd March 2008
This 'motorway business' creates waste (pollution), while producing outputs (i.e. getting people, vehicles, information and product to a different place, in support of the wider economy and society in general). In so doing, it suffers many ‘Lean’ wastes, delays (jams), transport (obviously), motion, scrap / rework (crashes / wrong turns) etc. whilst needing regular maintenance to keep it functional (e.g. repair pot-holes) and ‘Andon’ (via video camera, recovery service, police, NHS, Insurance companies, etc.) to remove the ‘broken parts’ from the process and deal with the aftermath of any errors which occur in the system – unfortunately, the ‘aftermath’ due to errors, sometimes includes a very difficult phone call to a family who won’t ever hug a loved one again – it is a life and death business, with a high level of connectivity between H&S and performance.
Just like a business, people need training before they can fix a motorway, police a motorway or use a motorway. Just like a business, this system of sub-systems ‘Continuously improves’. We provide better ‘machines’ & ‘tools’ to control process and reduce risk, in an attempt to improve performance, efficiencies, productivity and effectiveness, or in other words quality, cost, delivery, growth safety and morale.
In this analogy, we might consider better machines as faster, safer or more fuel efficient vehicles, (Depending on your personal definition of ‘good’ / ‘better’ – Which will be speed if you’re Jeremy Clarkson, but efficiency if you’re the secretary of state for the environment, who I assume must drive a hybrid or electric vehicle these days, to suit what the post stands for?).
Other performance improving ‘equipment’ might be, interconnected dot-matrix signs, centralised control and monitoring, traffic officers and average speed monitoring camera’s using ANPR to ‘enforce’ control on our roads via speed restrictions etc. These are the ‘tools & techniques’ we employ to achieve our 'Motorway business' Continuous Improvement project outcomes. The whole thing is very ‘Voice of the customer’ focused, with measures and stats galore for every separate section of this 117 mile car park-cum-race track.
"Nationally the worst journey times are experienced on the M25 and Southern section of the M1."
Source: Congestion on the strategic road network by D.O.T.
All of this… & yet…& yet... we still sit in traffic jams, every rush hour, morning and night from the QEII Bridge to Terminal 1 Heathrow and back!
So what else might we consider, from a Lean and business point of view? With all of this 'best practice' and project management and tools and technology, what's missing, why does it still 'Jam up' and under-perform?
I’ve had occasion to drive between 25K and 45K miles in most years of my career. So I’ve had plenty of time to see ‘what works’ and what doesn’t on Motorways, in the UK and abroad. You could say, I’ve ‘Gone to Gemba!’ and I’ve had my Muda glasses on.
& this is what I’ve seen...
Looking across miles of big sweeping (& quite beautiful) undulating corners, as found on the north side of the M25 and various other motorways, there exists a phenomenon which can only be described as a ‘Reverse-flow’ of events.
This ‘back-flow’ is identifiable by a Mexican wave of brake lights coming back down the road at you. It is possible to look 2 miles ahead and see the traffic stopped still, while you’re still doing 70MPH toward it. If you’re looking for this, you can back off the speed, knock it down a cog and cover the brakes, knowing the ‘dead-stop’ wave travelling back up the traffic will soon reach you and you’ll be stationary for however long it takes for those currently stopped 2 miles ahead, and everyone in between, to react to each other & start moving again.
It will come as no surprise though, that many drivers (operators) do not look ahead. As i'm slowing down a little, they whizz by, either oblivious of the new reality coming their way, or trying to beat another 10 cars to the back of the queue. They don’t see the bigger picture and remain focused on their own little patch of motorway, defending their space, often missing the approaching problem because they are texting or reading an e-mail on their mobile phones.
They feel safe, become complacent, defensive, comfortable and have little if any ‘vision’ beyond their immediate surroundings. In this detached and disconnected mind-set, drivers feel powerless (the problem is too big - they cannot effect it anyway). They end up anticipating the same traffic jam problems today they’ve experienced every-other day and do anything they can to achieve their own outcomes as a response to the situation, be it keeping up with work while driving or gaining another 200mtrs at someone else's expense. In this ‘system’ they (we) learn to be 'helpless' in respect to the bigger picture and focus on those things around us we can effect, and those things are usually the things we unconsciously determine to be for our own benefit. Such attitudes and behaviours become 'just the way we do things around here' and thus socially habitual.
As a result, many of the behaviours (relative to mind-set, education, attitudes and habits) that we see at a detail level, detract from the overall performance of the system, costing the economy billions in lost efficiencies… just like in business.
So what are the behaviours that detract from the overall performance of the motorway?
The biggest cause of this stop-start back-flow, which brings the flow in the system to a (sometimes) ‘crashing’ halt, occurs when new vehicles are merging from slip-roads to join the main flow of traffic; particularly when those joining the main carriageway try to ‘merge’ at a different speed to those already on it. In a system influenced by such imbalance (while trying to deal with a volume of throughput it was never designed to contend with - like most businesses), the ‘back-flow’ occurs on a pretty regular basis at a set distance in space and time, before the next 'operation' ... or junction with an ‘on-slip’.
In lean terms, such operations are not ‘process-flow balanced’ and definitely not to ‘Takt’!
When joining from a slip road, many if not most, fail to speed up to match the speed of the main carriageway. This was always the instruction in my day. This causes others to brake as they pull out in front of them to force their way onto the main carriageway. Some others join too fast, darting across lanes, causing others already on the main carriageway to brake, fearful of the speed of the joining vehicle. Either way, where a slip joins the main carriageway, there is a lot of last minute braking going on as cars travelling at different speeds try to integrate into a homogenous mass of moving metal and flesh.
Some of these 4 wheel brain boxes doggedly sit in the middle lane. Many of these people openly admit they simply don’t care about the inconvenience they cause to those around them, as long as they feel comfortable and safe while driving! They are un-affectionately described as belonging to the ‘CLOC’s’ (Central Lane Owners Club) & FLOC’s (Fast lane owners club), and these people, in their self-serving quest for comfort effectively reduce a 3 lane motorway down to 2 lanes, because of the ‘no-undertaking’ law. In so doing, they inhibit the entire flow and capacity of the system and cost the economy billions, not to mention increasing frustration, increasing stress, reducing rationality in others and increasing risk, anger & accident rates.
This kind of behaviour on the road see’s others in the fast lane, just waiting for the person in front to pull over to the left to let the faster moving car past in the ‘overtaking lane’, as they gradually edge past the ignoramus in the central lane blocking the usually empty slow (or inside) lane.
It's not uncommon today, to see someone ignore the undertaking law and sail down the slow lane faster than the majority of the traffic stuck in the so called' overtaking and fast lanes.
Then there are those who forget the ‘Mirror-Signal-Manoeuvre’ mantra I was taught. They seem totally oblivious to the negative impact their actions have on others around them, happily changing lanes without checking mirrors or looking over their shoulder to check the blind spot (especially when they haven’t ridden a motorcycle on the roads) before executing their move with no visual management presented to those who need to react to accommodate their movements.
In the UK in particular, it now seems that a new rule is developing to take over from the courteous approach once trained through 3 year lorry driving apprenticeships conducted in the 40's and 50's. That new rule is this; No-matter how much faster a car approaching from behind is going, if you ‘Indicate’ (rare as that may be) you have the automatic right to perform your ‘pulling-out’ manoeuvre and the faster car must slam on their brakes to avoid you.
Now it may just be me, but I'm sure I was taught (by my Dad who did do a driving apprenticeship), that if you were in a slow moving vehicle and you were holding up 6 cars or more, you pulled over to let them past. I was taught, that you gave way to the faster moving vehicle, I was taught that 50% of your driving is done in your mirrors to remain aware of those around you, that 40% was done looking into the distance and 10% was done looking at the car in front. I was taught to check your mirrors, BEFORE you indicated, then to check your mirrors again to ensure those around you had seen you indicating, BEFORE you made your manoeuvre. I was taught to indicate at roundabouts to communicate and 'manage' other drivers (Visual Management). I was taught to check the blind spot. I was taught to pull over to the left on a motorway, no matter what speed you were doing as SOON as possible, so you left free passage to anyone else choosing to go faster than you in the two 'overtaking' lanes (i.e. those lanes owned and regularly blocked by the CLOC's and FLOC's). I was taught to have care, consideration and compassion for other road users.
It may just be me becoming old and cynical, but that doesn't seem to be the rules o' the road as I experience them today. Now we seem to have new rules which are general and omnipotent in their nature and they are - "Do what you want, when you want, with no care for others and blame them if they fail to account for your stupidity!"
The same rules seem to apply to shopping aisles and shopping trolleys in supermarkets.
Perhaps, with the onslaught of technology and computer games taking the place of building go-carts out of prams, climbing trees, throwing knives, shooting guns (at targets), riding bikes, catching rabbits (and eating them) and generaly less interaction with the outside world while faces are stuck in screens manipulating data in 2D or hi-jacking people at gunpoint in GFA, this whole situation is a neurological devolution of compassion and spatial awareness in the masses ... but if so, how does that explain Germany?
Driving in Germany (Which I’ve done extensively – from one end to the other on a number of occasions), on the autobahns, (where there is of course, no speed limit), people are constantly checking their mirrors and pulling over to get out of the way of other faster drivers; and the funny thing is, i’ve only ever been in two traffic jams on motorways while driving in Germany and they were both around big cities where an accident had occurred. (Maybe that's just luck on my part?)
But my luck aside; is it just a coincidence that German drivers, who are not restricted by speed limits, and as a by-product, seem to be more responsible for their own actions and seem to have more consideration for each other as road users, ALSO have arguably the best, longest established and strongest manufacturing based economy on the planet? Or is there something deeper happening?
In the UK, where the ‘Way we are being toward each other’ is apparently self-serving, on our roads as much as anywhere else in society, we seem to have lost our capacity to be courteous .. and sometimes, even conscious; the rules & the standards of conduct between humans, our ethics, manners, values, etiquette, beliefs (+ rules of the road) and subsequently our attitudes and actions have changed, it seems (as I'm writing this) for the worst.
At a psychological level, one has to acknowledge the capacity for 'Fear' to be used as a control mechanism over behaviours, especially where individual experience is insufficient to allow individual choices to be 'wise' and serve the greater good in line with utilitarian ideals. (e.g. be 'good' or go to hell - that's been a pretty strong fear based message to keep young lust at bay up until secularism gained the majority vote - it's the best example I could think of, but let's avoid the religion and politics for now).
In respect to fear based control, we can also see that rules and punishment for contravening those rules is also required where the individual is only focused on their little patch of road and cannot connect to the bigger picture, i.e. cannot see 2 miles down the road, share the vision of others with a better view and adjust their behaviours to suit. (Back to people in departments, functions and silo's in business not receiving communications which allow a broader picture to be comprehended - if they can't understand the customers needs and have never heard of, let alone participated in QFD, then the quality rules and inspection process will keep their work within the pre-determined statistical boundaries set by the design team following the QFD exercise, and if they don't, to the right quantity, in the right time-scales, they are judged against output and performance targets and 'sacked' - which is where the fear based control kicks in).
In the absence of fear based controls and standards (as once imposed through much more prolific religious influence and now through politicians and bosses), the new modus operandi that social and technological change has left us with seems to be one of self-serving and defensive 'target driven' behaviours in a culture obsessed with short-term fiscal performance metrics.
Where people are focused on the short-term targets – winning the next space in the queue, for their own benefit, holding others up to ‘protect’ their place in the centre lane, for their own benefit, all the additional ‘stop-go’ braking required to create a space for the next vehicle pushing into a gap that doesn't exist at an inconvenient speed, consistently battling to do what's right for self, while keeping things which might otherwise flow, out of balance, all combines to cause cumulative error in the time adjustments made by each driver, particularly where one is looking at their phone or is falling asleep at the wheel, usually distracted and under pressure to hit the production (travel time) targets imposed by their employer.
This leads to delays most days, near misses on rare occasions and for some unlucky ones, catastrophic crashes, when the back-flow comes back through the system at them … just like in business … & just like in business, this often has a negative impact on those others who happen to be around the person who's behaviours cause the crash – the bigger the mistake made by someone who wasn’t paying attention to the bigger picture, the faster they were trying to get to their specific destination, the more people get caught up in the damage caused when they screw up. (Sounds like a banking analogy now!).
I’ve been to court to testify to this, as I’ve seen people look up from their phone at 85mp in the fast lane, too late, swerve to miss the back end of a stationary line of traffic, knock a people carrier sideways in front of a lorry, which after a few hundred yards pushing the car down the road sideways at 60mph, went into the barrier on the hard shoulder, pushing the people carrier nearly over the top and down a steep drop on the other side. I stopped and ran back to see a baby seat hanging from the back door of the people carrier over the drop … empty.
My frantic calls to the driver eventually cut through his shock and he informed me he hadn’t been carrying a child that day. It was an horrendous moment. The culprit who caused the crash didn’t stop. His number was caught on CCTV and
he was required to attend court. I arrived with the lorry driver to give evidence, but the guy didn’t show. 3 times he didn't show and the case was eventually dropped – he wasn’t insured and he knew how to play the system. (Another discussion for another day).
In such busy conditions as these, it’s up to the authorities to impose controls, as the ‘people’ can’t be trusted to choose the most conducive behaviours to achieve the best mutual outcomes for all. Ignoring the law, people do use their phones while driving too fast, they do sit in the middle lane and they do cut others up to satisfy their own short-term desire to put their car in a spot, in a moment. This kind of behaviour deserves to be controlled by those more responsible ... doesn't it?
The alternative is to 'include and educate' to a point that the majority make decisions that benefit others and not just themselves - achieving the desired outcomes (people acting responsibly to maximise flow and reduce journey times for all) really boils down to increased Control or Educated choice in context of achieving mutually beneficial results... and this applies in any system of parts and people.
Enforced speed limits usually keep the traffic flowing to some extent. 50 mph seems to allow the human capacity to ‘merge from the left’ to work without such major reactions as seem to be provoked at faster speeds, which, when pursued, ironically cause the overall speed for everyone to drop to 20, 10 or even 0 miles an hour. (Just like balancing op's, to suit a slower pace-maker operation - a lower average speed results in faster over-all performance, less stops and down-time, reducing lead-times in a business [or travel times on the motorway])... but where people don't understand how it works, they keep going as fast as they can under the false impression isolated speed is efficient and effective (like one department in a business out-performing another against detached targets to cause back-log of stock, tying up cash, reject rate increases etc. etc.).
The theory behind the rules used to control traffic on the roads (contested by my experience in Germany) is that faster speeds cause the most problems. In a business sense, the use of motorway speed limits is like matching everyone performing an operation in the business to the bottle-neck speed. I propose it’s not speed but attitude, driver capability and mostly 'systems' education and connectivity to the bigger picture which causes the problems on motorways ... and in business. i.e. If everyone understood the end result requirements, shared the vision and had increased capability, to a point (up to the natural limits of physical or mental failure in people), the speed restrictions could be removed.
(German autobahn's kind of prove the point - as does the experiment in the Netherlands which saw accident rates drop significantly when all the road markings and road signs were removed from Junctions which had become accident black-spots - people made fewer mistakes when they had to become more responsible for their own outcomes, without the rules, they had to think for themselves and became more cautious - the problem with imposed controls is that they can provide a false sense of security and / or a sense of 'learned helplessness', as they remove the need for a level of increased personal responsibility, or indeed, impose the view that nothing you do can effect the outcomes or reduce the pain - [i.e. the traffic jam on the road or in the business]).
With all the latest tools, technology and control mechanisms, enforcing control through speed restrictions just simply cannot work to maximise speed, only regulate it, to avoid a crash (road or business). This will remain the case where the people involved fail to consider their impact on the bigger issues. That said, a system, tightly regulated, or highly evolved (like the human immune system) can’t cope if the sheer volume of traffic is too great (anyone using the M25 around Heathrow will experience this every day during rush hour, irrespective of the variable speed limits delivered via over-head signs, just as anyone who's immune system is exposed to a sufficiently large dose of flu virus will catch a cold - too much for the system to cope with and the system falters while the repair work and improvement project is carried out).
The same thing applies in business or any organisation of parts which includes people. Old age care-homes, social
services, NHS, Banking and finance, we see the attitudes in people lead to horrific outcomes on a regular basis, we watch systems fail when stressed by rules and work-load, but pre-occupied with improving tools and technology we fail to see the connections to the real root cause.
We fail to see, that if we ‘incentivise’ our workforce to hit the often detached targets in their own department, i.e. defend their own performance area (or 20ft patch of tarmac they occupy while driving), all we do is drive more and more short term, short-sighted focus on localised performance, detached from the big picture. This nearly always conflicts with other targets in other sections of motorway (departments) and undermines the performance of the entire organisation.
Data control systems, feedback mechanisms, flow and delivery timing, information flow, management, enforced control for those unable or uneducated enough to make the sensible choice for the greater good (in the false assumption this is of benefit to themselves), like fast drivers, breaking the speed limit, under-taking the CLOC’s and FLOC’s through frustration – they all combine to cause the over-reactions and defensive, selfish behaviours which bring traffic systems (and companies) to a grinding halt.
Then there are road-works and ‘Contra-flow’, maintenance and repair, but I won’t labour the point.
It's all about maximising 'Flow'. In business the idea of cash flow (up-front payments in China vs. 90 days in Italy), the idea of product flow (Kanban, VOI, VMI etc.) the idea of ideas flow – design and NPD stage-gates leading to NPI and Design Freeze, the idea of flowing product out into the world to satisfy sales commitments … these are all, in principle, reflective of the visual examples of flow and the component parts of systems which flow / stop flowing, on the M25 and other motorways around the world.
The reason any organisation of tools, parts and people does not flow at its maximum capacity is due to all the factors mentioned here. Be it a road or a factory floor, human attitudes and education in a complex structure, along with clarity of vision, full responsibility, due diligence, ample preparation, constant awareness, a balanced view (50% looking back / 40% looking ahead /10% focus on the immediate area) etc. etc. are the real keys to improved performance.
We can keep giving people new and improved cars (new tools) and improve the comfort in those cars, through improved suspension, seats, power steering … they are all ‘tweaks’, like improving 5S, Kanban, ERP .... but, if the belief in a few people is of personal importance over others, of personal reward greater than others, be it in respect to comfort, speed or finances, the whole system struggles and suffers the back-lash we see on the roads and in our organisations every day.
The key is to develop capability, relative mind-set and communicate the bigger vision to the drivers of each and every car – not just keep supplying them with faster and better cars while keeping their view of the horizon blocked, expecting them to acheive the impossible & contextualise their position in the system without all the necessary information.
With the advances in psychological and neurological understanding, this level of conduct can be finitely detailed and mapped to internal reward / defence mechanisms & motivating drives. Leaders CAN consider the performance of their systems in much more detail than ever before … it just depends now, if they want to? If they change their beliefs about 'what is 'Good' / 'what works'.
Getting an executive leader to 'think' and truly 'believe' increased long term profit comes from...
- investment in a change to the concept of 'control' and what it requires to 'free' people to take responsibility
- and a practical change to the systemic controls they currently rely on, if they are to realise their targets of 'engagement', 'ownership' and 'buy-in' (requiring a little bit of psychological awareness)
... is a bit like getting Jeremy Clarkson to say fuel economy is better than speed all the time the BBC is picking up the tab for the fuel.
This kind of systems aware visionary change in business, facilitated by a change first and foremost in belief about what works, CANNOT happen unless it comes from the man or woman at the top - i.e.
"the leader MUST lead - in thought, word and deed."
but let's face it, in the financial targets driven world we've created, most leaders think, if they can hit short term targets with the common-all-garden best-practice approach taught and habituated, while they receive a big salary and a bonus; that looking at the bigger picture in this kind of detail just isn't worth the effort.
The world continues to 'speed up' and the volume of people relying on it keeps growing, but unlike the physical solutions presented in 1820 and 1876, our modern technological solutions are in some cases damaging the psychological performance capabilities of people today.
At this point in our development, we must take into account a broader view of potential solutions, including the brain and how it performs best for the individual and the group when part of a 'emergent-deterministic-logical-cybernetic' system. A leader, driven by a focus on their own financial rewards will very soon not be sufficient in the world. Leaders will need different motivations which serve the greater good, they will need to deeply understand the kind of philosophies like 'the Toyota Way' which sits behind the tools sold to the unsuspecting as a solution, when the real driver behind Toyota's success has always been the management 'Thinking', 'Beliefs' and cultural understanding of 'People performance'.
As it is in the western world today, enough money to tick a box at the end of this financial year will always seem more important than double box ticking levels of money if 5 or 10 years time. Maximised profits now, even if it kills the company in a few years, will command big bonus's, this is the way of the world today. There will be NO change, until there is a change in mind-set (belief) about what can maximise flow (and thus profit) in the long term.
If you want to reduce congestion & crashes in your business, contact us today.
Foot note; I’m an unapologetic petrol head, I have a 1000cc superbike in the shed and, in recent years, i've had a T5 Volvo in the garage. In standard form, this was a 273PS car. With the retro-fitted BSR tuning kit this T5 delivered 320PS and outperformed many cars many times the price – a real ‘Wolf in sheep’s clothing’.
I’m also much older than I used to be (and I like to think much more sensible – when I have to be). I found that, being unable to do anything about the volume of traffic on the roads, my 'game' changed. I was just as happy challenging myself to get the best MPG from the T5. Don't get me wrong, I was happy enjoying the power every now and again (to a very strict limit and in tiny time-frames, as it was capable of going past 170MPH on the track) but it was expensive to enjoy the power as petrol hit all time price high's, so my view of what was 'good' shifted to suit my prevailing conditions.
Fuel consumption dropped to around 8-9MPG in direct proportion to the weight of my right foot!
By comparison, on cruise control at 56MPH the T5 could return 42-44mpg. How I controlled the car was relative to what I perceived to be of benefit to me. Not breaking the speed limit and conserving fuel and money was a priority! That was my new idea of what ‘Good’ looked like.
I had a car and bike which would hardly get off of tick-over in top gear at 100-110mph, but I had to use them at 70mph, or if I was really focused on achieving 'Cost-down' at the expense of increasing lead-time, at 56mph.
1. because of the law, 2. because others around me couldn't drive safely at the same speeds.
I now own a new Astra which at 70(ish) mph returns 67-70MPG. By changing the tools I use, I can now drive as fast as the system allows, at less cost, by more than halving the power and potential. At 45-50MPH this little car returns a genuine 82MPG and it's tax exempt. It has a 110PS Eco-Flex engine, but works just as well as the T5 on the same roads for 99.5% of all the driving I do. It fits the system.
I and my old machine had potential to 'flow' much faster than the system allowed, but no-one ever noticed. Had I gone faster, at more cost, I would have been breaking the law (because I would have also had to undertake to achieve it while everyone else blocked the fast lane) and I may have been a cause of excessive braking behind me, eventually causing the system to slow down and even, perhaps cause a crash somewhere too distant in space and time for me to even notice ... but I could have got the job done faster.
Is it right to slow me down to keep the system performing to average capabilities?
The alternative is to address the way others think, to get them to pull over, stop being CLOC's and FLOC's and increase the capacity of the system, providing a lane for those who do have the tools and the skills to go faster. Once 'mind-set' and beliefs are aligned, so behaviours are conducive to outcomes, and levels of personal responsibility for our effect on others increases, we could let the speed limit increase ... or like Germany ... remove it all together.
Asking the same of a business, is it right to keep mind-set, beliefs and attitudes the same as they are, focused on departmental targets which detract from the overall flow capacity of the system and stop those who can go faster doing so? Or do we address the way people 'think' in a business, identify the CLOC's and FLOC's and re-educate them to get out of the way of progress and put the slow jobs in the slow lane, the medium speed jobs in the medium lane and stop restricting the fast lane of our businesses?
I'm sad to say, I changed my idea of what ‘good’ looks like to suit the system and our systems at work force people to do the same every day, which is why we find ourselves conforming to the norm and failing to challenge systemic issues like 'Control vs. Responsibility' with any degree of psychological or neurological awareness.
Under systemic duress, I traded my passion for speed and incredible acceleration for economy and safety.
My ego and my enjoyment of driving the windy roads in a stiff-chassis high(ish) power car, or on a 135ps bike which can out accelerate a top range Ferrari, was traded in for wallowing around corners in a jelly-mould, while saving massive amounts of money for 99.5% of the time I spend on the roads - mainly because of the restrictions enforced upon me by the system and the ignorance of other road users.
The important thing is, I was only able to change my behaviour (buy a run-of-the-mill car and drive to save fuel and cash) after I re-framed my view of reality and defined benefit from cost-down over speed-up.
Leader or Janitor, if belief in what’s good doesn’t change – nothing will change! Behaviours will reflect beliefs. If a leader believes in slowing down to suit systemic restrictions to keep things moving, he/she will sit in the middle lane and make sure that's what happens, if he/she believes in speed, they will streak out ahead ... what we require is leaders who can appreciate the benefits of different speeds for different reasons and lead the design of the system to maximise performance in each lane, so the overall system speed can increase without congestion and crashes.
In the absence of such leadership, we’ll just keep throwing more and more technology into a system which ultimately relies on the events happening in the people process... i.e. in the space between the ears... and to understand that in enough detail to direct improvements, we have to talk to leaders about psychology and neuroscience.
Would we have modern roads, or combustion engines and modern cars, if Benz, Daimler, Maybach and McAdam hadn't shared a vision for a better future? Will we improve performance at a systemic level if leaders remain focused on driving their organisations by finance predicted numbers to provoke target driven behaviours? Will we still be in the same position as a human race and society in another 100years, if we can't get the leaders of our political and commercial organisations to share a vision of a different future... a future which includes a heightened level of psychological and neurological understanding in leaders who are ultimately responsible for the design of our systems and prevailing conditions?