Process vs Common Sense

The Party Is OverA good friend of mine, Michael, has just started a blog about his life experiences. He's an actor in musical theatre and is currently on tour with a show around the UK so he's spending a lot of time on the move.

His blog from today '"London" Luton Airport', highlights an interesting process issue.

What Michael is saying, basically, is that the airport owners have decided that they will charge people £1 to drop off (and park for ten minutes) in the area just outside the terminal building at "London" Luton Airport. (For those of you who don't understand the "London" part, Luton is situated quite a few miles North of London and is really misnamed as being a London airport. In reality the same could be applied to many 'out-of-town' airports which are a journey in themselves from the city they allegedly serve).

The problem with this new system is that it is encouraging people to use as much of the ten minutes as they feel they have paid for and, hence, causing tailbacks and queues at rush hours. In effect Michael had to be dropped off several hundred yards from the terminal in order to catch his flight. This behaviour is now being noticed and the airport is threatening to issue £80 fines for those dropping off outside the allocated £1 zone.

So in other words:

  • The airport has started charging for something that used to be free
  • The charging is affecting people's behaviour causing congestion
  • The congestion is affecting people's behaviour causing unexpected actions
  • The airport is trying to capitalise on this by charging fines for people reacting in a way caused by their initial change.

Does this sound familiar?

It's a typical badly thought through process change and one where common sense has been ignored.

Don't get me wrong, the charging is not, in itself, a bad change to the process. But the consequences have obviously not been thought through. This change has been put in, I would suggest, by management who are anxious to increase revenues but with very little thought to the customer impact this would have.

Again, "Sound Familiar?"

So what should they do?

How about having variable charge rates and times? In rush hour - when they traffic is heavy - reduce the cost but also reduce the time that someone can wait. Charge 50p but make it 2 minutes. This will increase the throughput of vehicles thus reducing the congestion.

Or maybe the airport is counting on the £80 fines to boost income and that's the reason for the change?

You may think that, I couldn't possibly comment....

Reminder: 'The Perfect Process Project Second Edition' is now available. Don't miss the chance to get this valuable insight into how to make business processes work for you. Click this link and follow the instructions to get this book.

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