Lessons Learned from Some Unusual Sources

The recent American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition was chock full of valuable information and a great place to connect with industry movers and shakers. It also was an opportunity to learn from some folks who have nothing to do with trucking.

I go to a lot of events and as a result hear a lot of presenters and, in some cases I am one of those speakers. And while I hear a lot of speeches, the messages from two people while at ATA in Philadelphia really stuck with me.

The first was General Stan McChrystal, former commander of U.S. & International Forces in Afghanistan, senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute of Global Affairs and co-founder of McChrystal Group. He spoke about the old organizational structure that was made famous by the military. They were hierarchical in nature and while it was easy to understand them and know your responsibilities within them, they were slow to react. This did not serve our military well in the Middle East where the opposition was built on autonomy and instant communication.

I found this fascinating and a lesson for all of us in how we get things done with our contacts. General McChrystal talked about the concept of a “team of teams”. We all have our networks and contacts and those contacts have contacts. But are we taking advantage of all of that knowledge? We should be utilizing these relationships to communicate about trends, customer needs, new technologies and new capabilities. If we leverage the power of the information of all these contacts we can deliver some amazing solutions to the complex problems our industry faces.  FleetOwner’s Sean Kilcar was in the audience also, see his thoughts here - http://fleetowner.com/blog/adaptability-vs-efficiency

The second speaker who impressed me was Captain Jeff Skiles, first officer of US Airways Flight #1549, the flight named the miracle on the Hudson after the plane was safely landed in the Hudson River after suffering a bird strike and dual-engine failure 3,000 feet above New York City. What struck me here is how man and machine — in Captain Skiles’ case pilot and plane but for those of us in the transportation industry truck and driver — can work together. Or maybe that should be how they must work together. Captain Skiles contends that it was not a miracle that led to the safe landing of the plane, but a combination of great training, strong leadership, good technology and teamwork.

The lessons from these two speakers should resonate with all of us. The trucking industry faces a host of challenges not the least of which is how to get more out of a gallon of fuel no matter what that fuel costs. I think if we freely share information, work together and continue to develop strong leaders that we can tackle any obstacles thrown in our path. I’m ready. Are you?


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