How to stay nimble during times of high-speed change

Posted on July 23, 2019 by Mark R. Aesch - Also by this author

KCATA’s one-year plan is highly structured and actionable, yet fluid enough to enable leadership to pivot quickly to a new opportunity should one arise.
KCATA’s one-year plan is highly structured and actionable, yet fluid enough to enable leadership to pivot quickly to a new opportunity should one arise.

New mobility, Mobility as a Service, transportation demand management, mobility management — no matter what you might be calling it, the concepts around emerging mobility demand that transportation leaders embrace a management structure that allows for fast service adaptation. How can transit organizations swiftly adopt service changes that customers are seeking while also delivering value to taxpayers?

Management teams with strong strategic plans in place can confidently arrive to decisions when fast pivots for unanticipated events and emerging opportunities (read new mobility) are required.  

Strategic planning
Effective strategic planning can involve short- and long-term visions. A long-term strategy envisions the organization’s three- or five-year horizon. For the transportation organizations, here is where a broad future perspective is outlined — a future that encompasses emerging mobility technology and shifts in customer expectations that will require changes in service delivery and the customer experience. With this vision in place, then a short-term strategy can be developed to actively guide the organization over a fiscal calendar with three essential plan elements:

1.   A clear definition of success so everyone within the organization, including board members, and key stakeholders outside the organization all know what the organization is striving to achieve. This takes the form of measurable outcomes.

2.  A comprehensive work plan comprised of clearly plotted tactics that will engage workforce teams over the course of the year and that are regularly reported on.

3.  A quarterly scorecard that keeps everyone apprised of how well the organization is performing in its march to success.

Highly structured, actionable plan
Decisions by Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) leadership to expand the system into a comprehensive regional transportation network involve this long and short-term approach. The authority’s long-term strategy to be its region’s premier mobility provider gives the workforce a pin on the map to strive toward. That goal, in turn, is supported by one-year strategic plans, which outline tangible projects that move the organization forward. An aligned scorecard is integrated to keep everyone informed of performance and progress.

KCATA’s one-year plan is highly structured and actionable, yet fluid enough to enable KCATA leadership to pivot quickly to a new opportunity should one arise. For example, in the event that leadership is called upon to consider a fast move that is not identified in the one-year strategic plan, they have the structure provided by the long-term vision and measurable short-term outcomes to help guide critical decision-making.

If the new opportunity aligns with KCATA’s definition for success, the authority’s one-year strategic plan could easily absorb this new project or program at no peril to the rest of the plan. The strategic plan’s tactical work plan and its performance scorecard continue to focus and drive the organization.

The way I see it, no organization can thrive without an actionable strategic plan. With the industry’s current state of flux, strategic planning is more important than ever.

Mark R. Aesch (@MarkAesch) is CEO of TransPro Consulting.

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