Friday, April 14, 2017

Sydney INTERNATIONAL Convention Centre

If you label yourself 'international'; you'd better be that...not just pretend with fancy signs.

This is one reaction to the 'internationalness' of the Sydney Convention Centre:

Toilets. Predictably after the long first session, there was a rush on the toilets. On average men take 30 seconds to use the urinal, 15 seconds to wash hands and another 25 seconds to dry hands thoroughly standing at the drying machine. Let’s say that women take twice this for the first two uses.

At an estimate, there were about 1200 people using the level 3 toilets; lets divide that into 2, for the two sets and again into M and F; 300 people possibly wanting to use the toilets in the 20 minutes break.

For men, each toilet on the level should have 7 urinals (a concession to less than 100% usage), and women should have 14 toilet cubicles. Women might then need 7 hand basins and 7 driers in each toilet, men about half that. But what did we have? Less than half that number, and long conjested queues for every service point in the toilets (urinal, basin, hand dryer).

The hand dryers need to be placed in cognizance of the numbers and their flow; not placed in an awkward location that obstructs the smooth flow of patrons. NOT ‘international’.

Men’s urinals need some modesty separation. Some ‘international’ hotels in Sydney provide small, but sufficient panels between them…just like in international hotels I’ve experienced in other countries. Lack of them means NOT ‘international’ and simply offensively undignified. I take no delight in being splashed from an adjoining urinal.

Coffee service. It was good that the milk was placed distant from the tea and coffee service points. However, flow was awkward and there were insufficient points, meaning that the foyer was full of queues snaking around each other: for toilets, drinks and food. To serve the number comfortably probably requires 4 to 6 service points, with rational flow to milk and sugar points. Food points should also be dispersed to manage circulation.

Foyer. Needless to say, movement in the crowded foyer was difficult. There were insufficient seats available, by a factor of about 10. The foyer did not comfortably accommodate the crowd, making it perilous to handle hot drinks, and therefore uncomfortable and uneasy. NOT ‘international’.

So, a nice little place, looks attractive and has some useful qualities, but its ancillary facilities are simply inadequate for scale and pace of demand and do not reflect an international class venue; indeed the venue, in my experience across three continents, is embarrassing in its poor provisions for patrons’ comfort.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

United we fly, united we fall

If you have missed it, United Airlines is now famous for roughly hauling an elderly passenger off a plane that they overbooked.

For those interested in how business handles risk, this is an interesting case: one 'difficult' passenger, a routine request (I would surmise that the  'bumping' requirement is included in the ticket contract), staff with poor PR skills, lack of ability to increase the value of the alternative offer, a CEO who doesn't know the business and regards passengers as freight...and it all unravels in share price and ramifications in China...they picked the wrong passenger. How a small cascade of minor errors potentially wipes huge value off the company. I bet they didn't cover that one in their pretty risk matrix.

One has to chuckle.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

About Risk

I accompanied some junior colleagues to a short course on risk management.

It was, unsurprisingly, the same old same old: it culminated in the presentation of a 5X5 matrix with some lovely colours and labels from low to high.

What was missed was the unavoidable error bands around any point on the map, which meant that it was impossible to differentiate between a medium and a high risk on the map. The error bands overlapped.

The result would potentially be misallocation of resources, and the inability to respond to actual risk in the real world appropriately. This is 'the risk in risk matrices'.

An excellent corrective to the reflexive reliance on the rough stepped matrix is Matthew Squair's blog Risk and the matrix. I commend it to you.

Risk is better mapped, in my view, as a series of 'isorisk' lines to guide the analyst in their determination of a risk response. Risk is not cut and dried.

Isorisk Map

Monday, January 30, 2017

Strategy is? 2

The strategy process is historically separated into planning and execution phases. Some writers tie the two together: Mintzberg and Quinn spring to mind. I do too.

This diagram attempts to capture the dynamic as a feedback system revolving around performance (which is where projects live).

Friday, January 20, 2017

The coffee queue problem

I'm sure that we've all been to conferences where we've encountered the 'coffee queue' problem. This is where the conference organisers have organised the coffee table to maximise congestion through coupling of workstations with incompatible dwell times.

Still, how could one expect catering types to understand work flow techniques, I had to study two Masters degrees to gain a decent exposure to them.

This is what we usually have:

People move through the fast stations quickly, only to crowd the slow stations, with those who can skip a station unable to do so because of the 'log-jam'.

A better way, that I've only too rarely encountered where the different rates of flow are de-coupled:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What do you mean, 'value'?

In risk analysis we sometimes multiply the probability of occurrence with the event loss to obtain an expected event loss for the risk. Thus, if the the probability of occurrence of cladding collapsing is 1%, and the cost of the collapse (clean up,  insurance premium, make good) is $10m, then the expected event loss is $100k. No much, and across a portfolio of risks it indicates the overall budget risk....of course you include that in a Monte Carlo analysis to introduce some objectivity.

Another page from Matthew's book, Chancing it bears consideration in this context.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Best practice?

Really? Best for whom?

I'd prefer to develop my project practice in Deming's cycle; therefore, not 'best practice' but 'better practice' better for my projects in my circumstances. Using someone else's 'best' ties me to their past, not my future.