Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Road is a Great Teacher - Four Management Lessons from a Road Trip

Lesson 1: The Journey Starts in the Mind

Vision is Important. Let it be audacious.

When we told our relatives we intended to drive down from Delhi to Poona, a total of over 1600 Km across North and West India, they were too polite to express their opinion of our mental state, but their eyes said it all.
Lesson 2: Having people around to motivate you helps:
Surya encouraged us. ‘You guys are too risk averse, sitting at home. The world’s out there - go discover it.’

Lesson 3: Prepare Well For Your Journey:
Research and ye shall find.
So, undeterred by the subliminal messages being sent by the clan, and encouraged by Surya, we trolled the internet: distances between cities, directions in Google maps, travelogues, State tourism websites, weather websites, hotel sites, road conditions, we studied them all. There are enough people who share their experiences on the internet and we were grateful to them. The Road Atlas of India, a Rs. 80 rupee publication that had been lying around the house for years suddenly came alive and proved its worth - it was such an invaluable adjunct to the internet. The research was so intense that ultimately we could actually drive down all along NH8 as part of a thought experiment.There are some things, of course, that the net can’t tell you.

Lesson 4 – Validate findings of the secondary research with primary research:
Talk to the experts.
Based on our understanding, we planned to cover 300 to 400 km per day at an average speed of 40-45 km/h. That meant 10 hours on the road – including refreshment breaks.
When we told this to Brahma, he burst out laughing. He couldn’t believe people like us still existed.
‘Don’t limit your thinking,’ Brahma, who drives down from Delhi to Bombay at least twice a year, urged us. ‘You can easily reach Udaipur on Day 1. 700 km. And Bombay on Day 2.’
And sure enough, the trip as it happened saw us covering 700 km from Delhi to Udaipur on Day One.

And in spite of being slow drivers - the speedometer needle never crossed 90 km/h - we averaged a respectable 55 km/h over the entire trip.
At the end of it all, Brahma’s WhatsApp said it all: ‘I’m proud of you guys.’
Looking back, yes it was a great trip.
And yes, the Road taught us so much.

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