Thursday, 16 July 2015

Why new processes need everyone on board

We're based in London, so naturally we had a lot of hassle getting into the office last week thanks to the Tube strikes. And we weren't alone - around four million people use the Tube each day.

We're not going to get into the thorny issue of who's right and wrong, but we think there are some important lessons that both sides can learn.

William Perugini /
We think this is a good example of a company (TfL in this case) designing their processes top-down, without properly consulting their people. An all-night weekend service on the majority of the network is an exciting prospect for customers. And it's no mean logistical feat to organise on one of the oldest underground rail systems in the world.

They've clearly planned all that out very well in terms of maintenance, technology and trains, but not in terms of their people. The service was announced without proper consultation with the transport unions about what would be expected of their members, and the compensation they'd get for the extra night shifts.

For the unions' part, it seems like they had reservations about whether TfL were acting in good faith in their negotiations. We think they could have tried harder to establish a dialogue.

Both sides really need to be more flexible and willing to compromise in order to get the system up and running - and, crucially, fully staffed - by September. At the moment, it seems like TfL and the unions are both looking to paint the other side as the problem, and themselves as blameless.

Protobase Labs consultant, Artur Oganov, said, 'It's a classic mistake: management decides something, then expects everyone to fall in line. That might work in some businesses, but when you have workers in unions that are that powerful, it never will. Let's hope they resolve their differences in time to stop the next strike, scheduled for August.'

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