Friday, October 30, 2009

Because That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It.

Set foot upon these British shores and you will quickly take note that our motorways are dominated by automobiles with a manual transmission. Automobiles possessing an automatic transmission are rare and far between. While most of the rest of Europe (and the world) adopted the automatic transmission as standard equipment on its vehicles many years ago, the Brits have been content to stand by their beloved stick shift. Request an automatic transmission with a new car purchase in the UK, and you will be met with an exorbitant special order charge and a suspect look from the salesman. I once asked a car dealer why all the automobiles over here were still manual transmission? “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

As I write this, the UK is entering its second week of labor strikes staged by postal workers employed by the Royal Mail. The major hurdle in the contract negotiations between Royal Mail management and the union representing the postal workers is not about salaries or benefits; it’s all about modernization. The management of Royal Mail wants to introduce high-speed automated mail sorting equipment into its operations; technology which has been in use by the U.S. Postal Service and in other countries for many years. Royal Mail is losing customers to competing companies like DHL and Federal Express, and as a result experiencing record drops in its annual revenue. This is due in large part because every piece of mail that passes through the Royal Mail system is still individually hand-sorted by a human being. Why is our mail still being individually hand-sorted in 2009? “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

No comments: