Traffic

Here is a little video I shot of 5:00 traffic in Tulsa today:

I actually sat and watched this for a while and its really interesting to see that patterns that develop. So, the left lane is an exit only lane onto a surface street, the exit is perhaps 2/3 of a mile from where the two streams of traffic merge. The next two lanes go through and marge with the intrance ramp to the right.

The most interesting pattern is up in the top left of the frame

Most interesting is the top left of the video where the two streams of traffic merge.  It is sort of hard to see, but as soon as the two lanes come together people pull out of the exit only lane and into the through lanes, or into the exit lane from the through lanes. People seem to feel the need to pull in right away within the first 100 feet. I actually saw several people stop for 10 or 15 seconds to get into the other lane even though they had over a half a mile of empty lane in front of them to use to merge. I really think traffic would flow faster if people would just spread there merging out over the entire length of the exit only lane. I wonder why they don’t? A couple possibilities:

  • my observation might be wrong. There could be something im not seeing. Most of the people driving in this video drive this every day. They may know something I don’t.
  • Bad drivers, It could just be that all these people are bad drivers. They are on their cell phones and not paying attention. I don’t really think this is it. None of these drivers are dong anything wrong. They are just trying to get into the lane they need to be in.
  • Bad design. I think this is part of it. There might be something that could be done to help people not feel like they need to switch lanes immediately. Something to indicate that there is plenty of room to merge.
  • But, I think it has more to do with something people are really good at: getting tunnel vision and not seeing the big pictures. Or another way to think of it is that we focus so much on the detail right in front of us (i need to get into the other lane) that we never step back to see what is really going on (i have plenty for room, I don’t need to stop here until i can get over).

I do this kind of stuff all the time. I focus so much on the project I’m doing right now that I don’t make progress on the big picture of what I want to do and make progress on the big picture. And you can see this everywhere, politics, business, churches, non-profits, environmental debates, water wells, aid, development, money, economics, everywhere. I hope we can learn to think about the big picture, to think more then one step ahead.

 

Signs of a Dying Industry

On Market Place Money today there was a report about a guy who bought round trip plain tickets. He decided he did not want to use the first leg of the trip, only the second. In order to do this he had to pay a cancelation fee, buy a new, more expensive, ticket, and not get a refund for his old ticket. So, he ended up paying hundreds of dollars to use half of what he had already bought. Now, you can say this is crazy, but in the end that was what the contract said. He did not read the fine print of course, but that was what he agreed to when he bought the ticket.

This seems like a sign of an industry that is scared. A hot new start up that is blazing a new trail would never do this. They have to hold onto every customer they can. They need good word of mouth. But the airlines are not hot new startups. They are entrenched industries that are being pushed from all sides by a lot of different forces, they are really focused on the bottom line. So they take every opportunity they can to make a dollar, hoping to hang on one more year. This is of course short sited, but if your just reacting to a changing world I can see how that is where you end up. The crazy thing is that it is just a mindset. All it would take for the airline to change how round trip tickets work is a few lines in a policy manual and a few lines of code, send out a memo and they are good to go. But it takes a radical change in thinking before that can happen.

Its easy to pick on the airlines though…I know i make silly choices based on fear, you probably do to.

spam

Until a few days ago there were no links to this site anywher on the internet…so, no comment spam (and no readers). then my wife added the url to her delicious list. Within hours the comments where spammed (still no readers…). Kind of amazing.

catch up

i just read about a school seth godin is putting on…i would love to apply and see what happens. one of the first things i though was that i better update this blog, make it look good, write a bunch of new posts, all so he will think im some great blogger when he looks at it.

pointless, first off, im not some great blogger, second, he would see right though it, last, this blog is for me, it is what it is (unpromoted, unmaintained, etc.) but thats ok, right now its just a place for me to write when i feel like it.

Empty Social Networks

Online networks are the big thing, i am part of several that are very good and helpful. WIth tools like ning they are easy (and cheap) to start. But there are a lot of ning networks with 5 (or 1) people in it. Not much of a network, and not very useful. The challenge is no longer the platform. That part is easy, now its creating something of value, an interesting and engaging conversation, and connecting to the people who are interested in the conversation.

Taking the Last

We have brochures racks in a highly traficed area, nobody ever takes the last brochure.

Small lesson: always make sure the borchure racks are well stocked. But there is also something to learn about making information accessible, and making people comfortible accessing it.

On Balloons and Specialization

A friend of mine owns a balloon shop. He does three things: retail bouquets, events, and supplies. The problem he runs into is that these are really three separate businesses, with unique markets, needs, customers, needs, and problems. (its hard to decorate a baseball stadium for a big event and keep a retail store open at the same time).

He is really good at what he does, his product is great, he has skill and passion, but there is a good chance he would be better off specializing in one of these areas and being the go to guy in the region for that one thing.