Agreeing with Bill Gates

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After being aggravated over various aspects of Microsoft Windows and Office for years, I have finally found a point of total agreement with Bill Gates, and it is even applicable to parking and transportation!

In the 2013 annual letter from his foundation, he writes:

”I have been struck again and again by how important measurement is to improving the human condition. You can achieve amazing progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal…”

How does that apply to parking and transportation?

We have often written and worked with our clients to develop key performance indicators that will help them measure and improve performance.  From IPI’s Parking 101 to a recent Consultants Corner article in The Parking Professional, the recommendation has been to define key indicators and develop a program to collect and analyze them regularly.

Gates goes on to say, “It is amazing to me how often it is not done and how hard it is to get right…”

That is also true in parking and transportation.  Many programs do not regularly measure performance by gathering the correct data and producing useful information, so staff members may not fully understand the past and present performance of their programs.  Then, when a change is made in a program, management and staff are unable to determine how the results really differ from before.  This is more common than you might imagine.

Whether the issue is on-street turnover, response to changes in pricing, customer service complaints, lost tickets, on-time transit performance, or parking occupancy, measuring key performance indicators can help you understand what is happening now, and what you really need to change to improve performance.

Measurement is key to improvement.

What Are We Blogging About?

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Parking word cloudIf you haven’t seen the wonderful little program Wordle, go to the website and create some “word clouds” from your own text.  It’s fun and free.

Wordle uses your text and creates an image that illustrates which words appear most often in that text.  I took last year’s Parking Matters blog text and ran it through Wordle to see what we have been blogging about, and thus what we have been thinking about.  The accompanying image shows the words used most frequently as the ones with most prominence.

Clearly “parking” is the winner – no surprise there!  But look at the words that come in below parking:  people, new, work, transportation, industry, time, employees.

Much smaller in size are some words that should be important to us all:  customers, team, strategies, planning, and management.

The real message here is that our words indicate the issues we are emphasizing, or not!  Especially in this economy, the five words mentioned (customers, team, strategies, planning, and management) will continue to be all the more important to add value to our services, both perceived and actual.

This year, give some thought to the words you use — the words you emphasize.  They indicate what is important to you, and they tell others what matters to you most.  The New Year is a great time to develop plans focused on the five words above, inspiring better relationships with staff and customers and clearly describing the objectives for the upcoming year.  

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”
T.S. Eliot