Standing at London Bridge station it is a hub of activity and people (mostly waiting for a delayed or cancelled train). Anywhere else in the world, money would have been thrown at the project and it would have been down in a couple of years or not at all. The changes at London Bridge will end up spanning a decade (pre 2012 Olympics to 2019 at least).
A simpler solution to the over crowding would have been to use double-decker trains, like in Europe, but we can’t, our tracks aren’t wide enough and our bridges are too low. With the most significant parts of British Transport network developed over 150 years ago.
Now it’s time to dust off the bitterness infused in many by votes like #Brexit and #HeathrowExpansion. It’s time to focus on moving forward and how we can leverage the best of our current situation. We have the opportunity to be more dynamic, creative and aspirational in preparation for a rapidly changing world.
The United Kingdom got a head start (rightly or wrongly) on most of the rest of the world with the Industrial Revolution, the Victorian Era and the Empire. This was an age of innovation and progress, what could be conceived was done because we could. It then required a skill set to manage this though and gradually the with greater the output generated from innovation the more bureaucracy and administration to manage this infrastructure emerged. British people became expertly proficient at administration, with relative effectiveness and efficiency. A perfect skill set for financial institutions. This administrative skill set is now holding in conflict with the innovative initiatives within the country.
So the question is how do we leverage off our advantages before they are eroded?
The World Wars (or whatever else you want to attribute it to) have left British people with a scarcity mindset. We have had years of waiting for a decision on the airport expansion. A decision was made and 3 years later, more reviews and no change to the decision. It will still be another 2-3 years before any work will start, if at all. This indecision is stalling a once Great Britain.
The current decision making process seem to be a bit like waiting for the new iPhone, then thinking it’s a bit expensive, so wait for the price to come down, then about to buy, but there are rumours of new much better model, so waiting for that and then thinking it is a bit expensive, so waiting.
It’s time for Dave’s new set of criteria:
Ultimately it needs to be environmentally sustainable, socially progressive and aligned to future of Britain, but that is too general. Let’s get specific:
- Will it have a net benefit positive and optimised for the environment? – Yes HS2 will have a negative impact, but if it takes 1,000s of cars of the road, so what is the net impact?
- Can we afford not to do it? Sure it is expensive, but if it maintains our competitive advantage or creates new ones, how can we not do it? Will it be more expensive to wait until we have to do it?
- Is it future proof? Future proof not in the sense that the technology is (it won’t be), but easily upgradeable. So don’t bury the cables 30ft below with no access.
- Is it sustainable? What are the costs of maintenance.
- Do we have the skill set and will it enhance future skill sets? The UK has been a net importer of skills. This should and will need to continue enabling diversity in ideas and experience. But we should also be a leader.
- Does it have compounded benefits? – Across time, society and industries. Create complementary eco-systems of industries, where by-products of one are the input of others.
- Public, Private or is Competition the best solution? A lot of industries or services act better as a monopoly, not for profit and/or government run. There seems to dogmatic default to Competition. The clearest example for me this failing, is Sky and BT are in “Competition”, yet I have seen my combined Sports TV bill double. This is because competition means providing the same product, not different products. They show different games, so it is the Footballers (producers) and not the Spectators (consumers) who benefit.
Even just looking at #HeathrowExpansion, we are focusing on which should be expanded in isolation. As per point 3 below, we should be focusing on how they work together. In my coaching when asked to chose between two alternatives, I would say “why chose, why not ask how can you have both?“. It is surprising how often changing to this mindset suddenly opens up multiple options never conceived in the scarcity mindset.
Dave’s Revolution Plan:
While it may be a slow burning revolution, that is what is requires. A strategic and fundamental mindset shift. Again let’s look at specifics:
- Change the Scarcity Mindset to one of Abundance – I would make books like Abundance and Progress compulsory reading, particularly for Politicians.
- Streamline decision making – I would use pre-determined criteria for projects, so they get approved if they meet the criteria, rather than then discussed. Default becomes “Let’s do it.”
- #HeathrowExpansion – First thing I would do is cost a high speed rail between Gatwick and Heathrow along the M25. A high speed train can realistically get between the two in 20 minutes, the route would hug the M25. Similarly 20 minutes from Heathrow to Luton, 30 minutes from Luton to Stansted and with junctions, Stansted to Gatwick in less than an hour. At the same time link up all airports, including Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester.
- Invest in Sustainable Renewable Energy – Focus on things available in abundance and predictable such as tidal and wind. Ensure energy efficiency. It may seem expensive now, but a bargain compared to the negative impacts of fossil fuels (when we have no food) or depedent on tother countries.
- Facilitate locally and efficiently produced Sustainable Food – Use energy efficient food production means (have I mentioned reading Abundance?) and solutions provided by companies like Freight Farms for self sufficiency.
- Rapidly Expand IT Infrastructure enabling #FinTech,#InsTech, #MedTech and #FoodTech – Ensure it is accessible to all and future proof. It will allow a more socially progressive democratisation of opportunity (business and education).
- Improve ease of doing business – Empower a task team, whose sole goal is to reduce red tape and make it easy to do business. This is not the same as low regulation. I am all for high regulation where needed, but just like the HMRC has made it relatively easy to pay taxes, so to should as much as possible be automated, pre-populated and stream lined.