Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…
Oh the weather outside is frightful…
That’s the opening line from a classic Dean Martin song and how very pertinent this is considering the snowy weather in Europe over the past week and the deluge of snow that crashed into the Eastern coast of the United States during an enormous blizzard on Sunday. Both of these separate weather fronts created massive disruption to road, rail, and air transportation leading to accidents, flight cancellations, and extensive delays with reaching people and delivering services.
As advocates of service chain optimization we often promote the concepts of demand forecasting and resource capacity planning to ensure that service organizations have the right resources in the right places at the right times to deliver efficient service. By including scenario planning, you can establish the operational platform so that the business can respond to almost every challenge; but not all of them. Even the best contingency planning can fail and be undone by extreme circumstances because you cannot plan for everything.
So what can service organizations do to minimize disrupting service during such challenging times? Simple; learn to react and mobilize quickly and efficiently. If your planning is ruined by totally infrequent and unpredictable circumstances, it is how the business responds and adapts that becomes of utmost importance. Case in point – London Heathrow airport was terribly affected last week with snow and ice grounding flights. One runway remained closed by snow for several days disrupting thousands of passengers trying to fly home for Christmas. But how did they respond? They rejected the Government’s offer of sending troops from the British Army to clear the runway which added to the delays and disruption. I don’t know the reasons behind that decision but as a paying customer, it hardly gave me a sense of commitment and well-being.
As you may have guessed, I was one of the air passengers who was stuck in North America last week and couldn’t fly home to England for Christmas. Fortunately I managed to travel by changing my flights and taking a chance by routing through Iceland. It was stressful and tiring as my children were coming to terms with me probably missing Santa’s visit. But it worked out well in the end as I got home, just.
Still, things could have been worse…at least I never lost my Blackberry!