Which way now for rail?

Which way now for rail?

nick Clients, Comment, engagement, Homepage, Rapid Improvement Workshops, Team Optimisation, Transformation Leave a Comment

We’ve lived the first week of new timetables across the rail network, so how’s that going for the industry? Not as well as we might have expected. Monday’s complaints from hard-pressed commuters included “New timetable and a packed train just cancelled as no driver in London to take over. Triumph of Thameslink.” According to the Guardian, “Throughout the day, between half and a third of timetabled trains across the new enlarged network were being cancelled.” And it might not have been ideal for Go-Ahead to report healthy profits in the same week, either… But before we poke GTR (an A2B Excellence client) with a stick, let’s …

nickWhich way now for rail?
Tick TOC

Tick-TOC: Times are changing for train operating companies

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Nobody said it was easy being a ToC. Consumers hate them, yet ToCs are at the mercy of government (and neither side of the political spectrum has managed to structure the ideal system), their advisors from the big consultancy firms, and all sorts of unpredictable socio-economic changes. We’ve been lucky enough to work with a TOC recently, and a few very simple things have become apparent. First, no matter what happens, TOCs are under pressure from dramatically competing priorities, which will not be resolved anytime soon: Short term: Quarterly earnings reports and market pressure Mid-term: The franchise bidding cycle Long-term: …

nickTick-TOC: Times are changing for train operating companies
Let your team do what they do best

Let your team do what they do best

nick Comment, engagement, Homepage, Team Optimisation, Teambuilding, Transformation Leave a Comment

I recently read a superb CIPD blog, whose authors took the rare step of recognising that the natural talents of employees are an exceptional resource. I couldn’t agree more: we have always said that our business existed to “leverage the latent talent in employees for a happier and more productive workforce”. The blog continues by helping leaders to identify what high performance in their organisation might look like, and how to win as a strengths-based organisation. But isn’t this patently obvious? Couldn’t a two-year-old tell you that people who use their natural talents are likely to be happier in their …

nickLet your team do what they do best
Holacracy

Holacracy: We know what we’re doing…

nick Collaborative Planning, Comment, engagement, Homepage, Rapid Improvement Workshops Leave a Comment

This great article in Quartz discusses the way a Canadian operation of the engineering giant GE has implemented ‘Holacracy’, a posh way of saying that teams themselves decide how to reach the company’s goals. The logic is simple: nobody is better equipped with the vision to solve practical problems than the teams themselves. Holacracy doesn’t work for everyone (as ever, no strategy works for everyone), but at A2B, we have always  maintained that the best route to efficiency is to leverage the latent talent and goodwill of employees, and there’s no better way to encourage that goodwill than to bother …

nickHolacracy: We know what we’re doing…
Infrastructure

Don’t bank on an infrastructure boom – it’s time to work smarter

nick Coaching, Comment, Homepage, Transformation Leave a Comment

Infrastructure is back on the agenda in a big way in the US. There are two good reasons why. First, the current incumbent of the White House has put infrastructure spending at the top of the agenda (well, first after immigration and healthcare reform…); because in a hat-tip to Roosevelt’s pump priming-policies, massive investment infrastructure not only creates jobs (especially Trump’s homespun blue-collar jobs for American people narrative), it also repays dividends in community benefit and long-term regeneration. Second, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has just released its Infrastructure Report Card – a simple assessment of the state …

nickDon’t bank on an infrastructure boom – it’s time to work smarter

Realising efficiency after the Quick Wins are done: A vision for infrastructure in 2017

nick A2B People, A2B Presentations, Benefits Realisation, Coaching, Comment, Culture Change, Homepage, partnerships, Rapid Improvement Workshops, Team Optimisation Leave a Comment

In November 2016 at the Highways UK conference, Jim spoke passionately about the future of major projects and infrastructure in the post-Brexit world of uncertainty. There’s no question that infrastructure is a key element of economic recovery and national pride – but project management offices are under ever greater pressure to cut costs and demonstrate value. We say: The Quick Wins are over. There’s nothing left to trim back. And people can’t work any harder, either – like tired doctors and drained pilots, more pressure doesn’t yield a better result. Yet high-performing organisations successfully complete 89% of their projects, while low …

nickRealising efficiency after the Quick Wins are done: A vision for infrastructure in 2017
Wall

Unpick silos with an Unconference

nick A2B People, Comment, Culture Change, engagement, Facilitation, Homepage, Transformation Leave a Comment

Cari Hewer   How do you get established teams of experienced people fired up for emerging challenges, unleashing news ideas and working even better together? Well, if you’re happy to try something a little bit ‘out there’ an ‘unconference’ could be all you need. Unconferences are not new (they even have a Wikipedia entry). First introduced in the late 90s in the tech industry, they are gatherings with only a loosely defined structure, allowing discussion topics and relationships between participants the freedom to blossom without being too tethered to a formal direction. In a true unconference, the agenda is put …

nickUnpick silos with an Unconference
2016 and all that!

“2016 and all that”: What just happened, and what’s next?

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At this time of year, most companies do some sort of “look back at the year just gone, and a look ahead to the coming year”. I’m probably not the only MD to be sitting at his desk, rubbing his eyes in disbelief. Twelve months ago, the idea that we would be on our way out of the EU (probably, sort of, maybe, in some way, eventually), that the outsider candidate would win the Presidency, and the idea that our borrowing targets would be out of the window – well, it’s all faintly surreal. Where does that leave us? Well, …

nick“2016 and all that”: What just happened, and what’s next?
Money Doesn't Always Talk

Money doesn’t always talk

nick Comment, Culture Change, engagement, Homepage, Rapid Improvement Workshops, Team Optimisation Leave a Comment

In this interesting article from the BBC, a fund manager, Neil Woodford, explains why he has stopped paying bonuses to his staff. Instead, his team will get an increase in pay and benefits. I think this is interesting – not because Mr Woodford is doing something new, but because he is being honest. He says that bonuses have become a given; something his employees feel they are entitled to. And in financial services, he is probably right. Therefore, they should not be called bonuses, because they are not incentivising improved activity. There is another argument that in financial services, where the media …

nickMoney doesn’t always talk

Brexit for Infrastructure: Strong Leadership Required

nick Collaborative Planning, Comment, Homepage, Performance Deep Dive, Transformation Leave a Comment

So the people of Britain have pushed the nuclear button on our relationship with Europe. As the analysts (and financial tipsters) pick their jaws up off the floor, let’s examine the effect on the major infrastructure and construction industries. The chances of a Scottish block or a second referendum for England are extremely low, but there’s a big difference between complete disengagement and an arms-length relationship. There is therefore plenty of uncertainty: Right to play: Our right to bid to participate in projects depends on the nature of our new relationship. If we remain in the EEA and still play …

nickBrexit for Infrastructure: Strong Leadership Required