Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Keeping UberX for Billions

Keeping UberX for Billions of Reasons - Removing UberX is Not an Option

The Taxi industry in Sydney is a broken system. Few profit, many suffer. I cannot vouch for Uber enough and celebrate the customer service solution Uber and UberX represents.

My support of Uber's services in the desolate taxi landscape could be the thesis of a five-year Philosophical Doctorate, but I'll summarise in three points for Transport NSW:

1. End users and paying clients have the final say

2. The share-economy is here to stay

3. Be a global example of success, not failure

1. End users and paying clients have the final say

As an end user, I will only pay for a service worth using. I have a boycott on Taxis after too many service failures to count. When a taxi doesn't show up when reserved (multiple times), shows up inconveniently late or early (always), refuses to take me where I need to go (often), and then charges more than these service failures are worth, only a sane person would say NO to this broken system and find an alternative solution.

Uber is that solution, and UberX specifically levels the playing field and forces Taxi drivers to provide a service that meets the demands of paying clients. As an Uber client, I can say every single Uber ride I have taken is an amazing win/win situation for driver and customer by comparison. Drivers are rated on performance and only good drivers succeed.

Mind you, all Uber drivers have been good drivers, as their use of the Uber service proves that they care about me, the end user that pays them, and we share that same value. I could go on but I'll move on the benefits of the driver and the share-economy.

2. The share-economy is here to stay

Airbnb.com has proven that the accommodation industry can be turned on it's head when a low-priced solution can offer rooms to travellers by trusting home owners and renters to open their doors and host their location on the Airbnb site.

These share-economy technologies are here to stay as the human race continues to grow in number whilst finite resources remain fixed. It's not only good business to provide more options for consumers through room-sharing and ride-sharing, but it's a moral imperative to preserve the human race if we are to consume our shared resources wisely.

Lastly and most importantly, with redundancies and lay-offs handed out to otherwise helpless workers in corporate down-sizing, UberX and other share-economy income-streams provide workers a transitional income whilst they look for new roles, or, by fully embracing these new technologies, become service leaders in their adoption.

3. Be a global example of success, not failure

Sydney is not isolated in the need for better transport options. Cities around the world with bad bus systems, lack of reliable trains, and overpriced taxis demand UberX as an option.

Cancelling UberX would stop the support for families of drivers like Ian, who gave my wife and I a ride from Circular Quay to our home in Marrickville.

We needed to find an alternative way to get home as our trains were not running due to track work, another Sydney transport failure that is known all too well.

Despite buying Opal Cards to take advantage of one solution to the problem of waiting in line to buy train tickets, the trains still failed us and we had to find another way home.

Like most Sydneysiders, my wife and I are on a very tight budget as a result of paying overpriced rent and unable to find adequate employment in our professions.

The result of high costs and low incomes for us means that our money is tight and time is limited. Taking a bus during track work is not an option, and taxis are too expensive.

UberX is the best option for us to get where we need to go when we need to get there, being treated well, valued as customers, and given the option to rate our driver in return.

Ian gave us a comfortable ride in a back Toyota Prius whilst we helped with directions as he is only driving UberX recently since receiving a redundancy as a corporate accountant.

Taking away UberX would devastate Ian's family, further frustrate Sydney commuters like me who want better transport options, and possibly force Ian to foreclose on his mortgage.

In summary:

1. Anyone in Transport NSW who denies UberX is ignoring the fact that end-users pay for these service options and should have the final say in what is available and for how much.

2. With the changing global economy, the share-economy is here to stay as a solution to corporates sacking workers who need creative income streams quickly to cover their costs.

3. Sydney has an opportunity to lead in this changing landscape. Listening to the users and service providers successes, private industries provide services like UberX to solve problems that governments and state agencies are not able to solve.

Let the Uber experts do what travellers have needed all along. Give the people UberX.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Meet Your Professional Mess-Tackler

Upon reading several Harvard Business Review articles about Design Thinking to fuel the relevance of a new and improved Marketing Survey, I came across an excerpt by Caroline O'Conner and Sarah Stein Greenberg of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.  The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design in Germany administers their campus in the United States as the Stanford University "d.school", founded by David Kelley in 2004.

Caroline (a lecturer) and Sarah (managing director) had an excerpt called "Tackling the Mess, One Step at a Time" in the larger article by Tom Kelley and David Kelley, Reclaim Your Creative Confidence.  While I can relate to the five items in the list as valid ways of testing the user experience of your own organisation, I relate even more to the whole concept (often greater than the sum of its parts.)

Tackling the Mess, One Step at a Time

1. Lurk in online forums.

Listen in as potential customers share information, air grievances, and ask questions—it’s the virtual equivalent of hanging around a popular cafĂ©. You’re not looking for evaluations of features or cost; you’re searching for clues about their concerns and desires.

2. Pick up the phone and call your own company’s customer service line.

Walk through the experience as if you were a customer, noting how your problem is handled and how you’re feeling along the way.

3. Seek out an unexpected expert.

What does the receptionist in your building know about your firm’s customer experience? If you use a car service for work travel, what insights do the drivers have about your firm? If you’re in health care, talk to a medical assistant, not a doctor. If you make a physical product, ask a repair person to tell you about common failure areas.

4. Act like a spy.

Take a magazine and a pair of headphones to a store or an industry conference (or, if your customers are internal, a break room or lunch area). Pretend to read while you observe. Watch as if you were a kid, trying to understand what is going on. How are people interacting with your offering? What can you glean from their body language?

5. Casually interview a customer or potential customer.

After you’ve gotten more comfortable venturing out, try this: Write down a few open-ended questions about your product or service. Go to a place where your customers tend to gather, find someone you’d be comfortable approaching, and say you’d like to ask a few questions. If the person refuses? No problem, just try someone else. Eventually you’ll find someone who’s dying to talk to you. Press for more detail with every question. Even if you think you understand, ask “Why is that?” or “Can you tell me more about that?” Get people to dig into their own underlying assumptions.

Plainly stated, I am a Mess Tackler.  It is consistent with everything I have ever done in my life.  Referencing the previous post on this blog about being the Happy Wanderer and Happy Wandering Artist, I draw a linear path through what appears to others as wandering.  I am a Lineaist artist , and a Lineaist is a mess tackler, connecting the dots (mess) into an identifiable outline (tackled).

I laughed out loud when I whole-heartedly realised that every day of my life is a mess, and waking up in the morning and facing another day for me is mess-tackling.  I may not have the most predictable professional path or business model, but that is indicative of this valuable work I was born to do.

I take the uncertainty of my own path in life, redefining my entire identity at least once every two years, as a foundation for subject matter expertise when I help my clients navigate changes in their own lives and with their businesses, using the best practices available like my colleagues at HBR.

Whether it's something mundane like cleaning up my housemates' garage to make room for incoming shelves and a system of order or something born of my own dreams comes true like working for The Difference at PwC, guiding Qantas Pilots through their own uncertainty, I aim to mess-tackle.

Thank you Caroline and Sarah, Tom and David for your work in tackling the world's messes and making Design Thinking a more organised system of processes and results.  I walk the messy path with you of taking my B-School colleagues into our D-School world.