I was thinking in my car again the other day, but this time I had rather too much time on my hands.
I was stuck in a traffic jam.
Now, it has been some time since I had been in this unfortunate position, but that it seems, is down to luck on my part. This is because…
- There are nearly half a million traffic jams in Britain every year. That is nearly 10,000 a week!
- There are between 200 and 300 incidents of major congestion every day.
- A quarter of Britain’s main roads are jammed for an hour a day.
- Congestion levels are forecast to grow by between 11 and 20 per cent over the next ten years.
- Nearly a quarter of people affected by congestion experience it every day, and 55 per cent experience it at least once a week.
- The cost of traffic jams to British business is £20 billion every year.
I went through the typical cycle of moods when I was stuck in my traffic jam – for about 2 hours in total.
- Enthusiasm – at travelling to another assignment and generally being in my car on a bright sunny morning
- Total Confusion – as the traffic came to a halt without warning or any previous suggestion of problems
- Disillusionment – as the expected ‘small delay’ evolved into a larger delay and which point I called the traffic line and learnt the horrible truth and full scale of the problem
- Search for the Guilty – as we crawled along I stared out of window seeking out the cause of my misery and the evil driver(s) who had sabotaged my plans for the day
- Punishment of the Innocent – my anger moved on to anybody who failed to move forward quickly enough in the queue or who tried to change lanes in front of me
- Reward and Promotion of the Non-participants – maybe not whilst I was in the jam itself, but when I finally crawled past the recovery vehicles and police there was a wave of relief and thanks for the work they do
Yes I know, it sounds like any project you have ever been involved in, doesn’t it?
So, would a super-project manager flying into the situation have saved the day? Would I have been out of the jam any quicker?
Possibly; when driving we are all pilots of our own little project but we take little or no consideration for each other. No-one has a great project plan for the day’s travel, if we did then perhaps congestion could be better managed and when problems occurred a better recovery plan could be exercised.
That said; consider your risk planning before you head off for that journey. I typically build a significant contingency period in to my travel plans – longer if this is a first time meeting or engagement, or if the appointment time is inflexible (such as a speaking engagement). I consider alternative travel plans if there are known regular issues on my route. I also ensure that I have all the necessary means of communication to let people know of my progress (or lack of it).
I like being in my car, but not for too long!