Robert Frost was poking fun at his friend who would obsess over what fork to take in the path as they walked when in reality the choice made no difference.
And “that has made all the difference” is poking fun at self justifications of our actions; congratulating ourselves for doing something not really worthy of accolades.
Still the top three lines do seem like insightful advice. Of course what is really needed is insight into when choosing the road less traveled is wise (or at least a sensible gamble) and when it is less traveled for very good reasons.
I do believe we far too easily slip into habits encouraged by the well worn path most people take. And therefore think balancing that tendency with at least considering the road less traveled more often is wise. But I actually like that when you read the full poem it really isn’t saying that.
The job of managers is to create a robust system that delivers value to customers. A system that fails constantly (fails during the continual variation the system faces) is a failed system. Bad weather is part of the variation airlines face. Any management system has to cope with the variation that it faces. The management system must be designed and managed so that the organization successfully delivers value to customers under the conditions the organization will face.
The air travel system in the USA is a disgrace for so many reasons it is hard to catalogue them all. One, of many, is how fragile the system is; causing massive (nation-wide) customer harm multiple times a year due to weather. Weather is sometimes bad. If your organization fails when there is bad weather, fix that problem (make your system robust in the face of bad weather), because you are not going to be able to fix the weather to let your un-robust system be effective as it is.
Instead airlines only response seems to be to get their friends in government to approve anti-competitive mergers to eliminate competition and allow failed organizations to become even larger and harm even more people. Airlines should design robust systems that work in the environment they will face (which they don’t do now).
Their planes don’t fall out the sky when they face bad weather. The engineers behind designing planes have made them very robust. Pilots have been trained to handle variation they will face. And yes, the system has been designed with adjustments to avoid flying into conditions that are risky.
The safety of the air transportation system is very good. The management of airlines in most every other aspect is pitiful, and has been for decades.
The managers running the airlines have done amazingly bad job of creating robust organizations capable of delivering given the variation they know they will face (weather, mechanical problems, IT problems, etc.) for decades. Poor management is the cause of these failures that result in harm to customers. Weather is not the cause. Poor management, over decades, resulting in incredible fragile systems that constantly punish customers is the responsibility of the airlines. And they have done an incredibly bad job at creating a robust system to deliver value to customers.
The internet should make finding airline flight information easy. Instead it is a huge pain. Hipmunk has taken on the challenge of doing this well, and I think they have done a great job. This video provides an excellent view of both web usability and customer focus. This is a great example of focusing on providing customer value and using technology to make things easy – which is done far to little at most companies.
A CNN.com article, from yesterday, discusses the use of National parks and comments on camping declining at the parks. I have always preferred to hike around during the day and then eat good food, sleep in a warm bed and take a warm shower. So maybe I am ahead of the trend the article argues is taking place. I found the most interesting part of the article to be:
There were 276.9 million visits to the National Park System last year… By comparison, combined attendance at Major League Baseball, National Football League and National Basketball Association games last season was about 110 million.
One of the surprising things about my recent trip was the lack of foreigners. Often, of past visits (Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountains, etc.) close to half the people I see hiking seem to be foreigners . This time I would estimate less than 10%. My guess is this is just an anomaly of the time and places I visited but it was interesting.
In August I spoke to the Fordham University Deming Scholars MBA Program. I spent the weekend with my brother’s family in Brooklyn. The photo to the left shows my nephew at the Statan Island Children’s Museum. The photo accurately conveys my weekend as I stuggled to keep up with his blur of activity.