Annoyed

It is hard to not be annoyed with our economic condition at this point.  When warnings were called out they were quickly hushed as fear mongering and cast aside.  This when if the concerns had been heard and addressed we likely wouldn’t be making a ridiculously late scramble to do something about our impending economic slide.

Look back at all of those who warned of the risk of our economy overheating over the last few years.  Look back at all of those who warned that the US was in for a downturn that would likely impact Bermuda quite heavily and that we should be prepared.  Look back at all the cautionary measures we took to prepare in case such a thing happened.  Oh right, don’t waste your time on that last one.

A step in the right direction

I like this.  Were these worldly town crier competitions a part of a tourism promotion to win a trip to Bermuda? The article doesn’t say.

Ultimately these are the kinds of thing we could be leveraging YouTube to promote and incite a bit of user generated content momentum.

Vexed, how could you?

Who else is appauled at what Vexed Bermoothes has to say about our Premier's commentary regarding the Summit of the Americas?

"the Premier avoids mentioning the breathtaking allegations of corruption and mismanagement in TCI. It’s worrying that the Premier would attend such a high profile event, and this is all he has to offer."

Vexed, how could you?  Clearly you missed the very important detail where the Premier and his wife got the chance for a photo-op with Obama.  Obama! 

Why should we waste our time with trivial details like the potential of Cuba opening up to American tourists and effectively slaughtering our already poorly performing volume based discount approach to tourism?  Please.  That'd be like admitting that the nitwit that writes that 21 Square blog actually may have been on to something when he never shut up about shooting for exclusivity over discount tourism.

Thankfully we don't have to and shouldn't believe anything the Royal Gazette prints as clearly our Premier covered all of this and allayed the concerns of our people but the biased media prevailed by not printing it.  No, the PLP.bm website doesn't need to be updated with full exerpts of what he actually said, nor does gov.bm which doesn't load anyway.  Get your facts straight people!  Talk to the right people in the know and when in doubt 'believe'.

Late night pondering

Here’s a little can’t sleep thought…  What happens when you combine the atmosphere typically associated with low cost housing with the atmosphere expected of a luxury hotel?

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New Zealand Tourism jumps on the bandwagon

Another example of successful tourism campaigns utilizing user driven content via YouTube is the one New Zealand Tourism put on. 

via stuff.co.nz

Tourism New Zealand has done a $US320,000 ($NZ450,000) deal to promote its new campaign over popular internet site YouTube.

Tourism NZ will take over the paid video space on the YouTube homepage for 24 hours, starting at 4pm on September 18.

It would use the homepage space to show its new 100% Pure New Zealand commercial.

The 24 hour contract will be followed by three months of a New Zealand branded channel.

via the Otago Daily Times

As the tourism industry braces for a tough few months, a New Zealand marketing campaign on social networking sites has chalked up its 100,000th viewing on YouTube.

The video "raves" are collected from international visitors at a mobile recording studio, edited and posted on the networking sites by Tourism New Zealand (TNZ).

The campaign was chosen by Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper as one of "10 most ingenious travel offers" the travel industry has come up with to get bookings.

South Africa Tourism innovates

South Africa is truly living the ‘gold standard’ by winning awards with their tourism campaigns.  Not long ago South Africa Tourism won the Global Gold Award in the International Awards for Innovation in Media through their “My South Africa” campaign.  South Africa serves as another tourism destination thinking outside the box when it comes to marketing.  Again, why can’t we do that?

via sagoodnews.co.za

The campaign was launched in June 2008 with the aim of raising the profile of South Africa among CNN’s elite audience of globe trotters. The multimedia campaign is CNN’s first ever user-generated content driven advertising solution.

‘My South Africa’ encourages CNN viewers worldwide to upload compelling photographs, moving images and stories that encapsulate their experiences of South Africa, via the ‘My South Africa’ website.

By submitting you get the chance to win an all expenses trip for 2 to South Africa.  You can check out the site at www.mysouthafrica.tv

Not limiting themselves to just CNN, South Africa Tourism has launched a similar campaign on YouTube as well which inspired people to submit their impressions of South Africa for a chance to win a trip.

Now that’s an example of thinking outside the box with lower cost ideas that create tremendous buzz for their money.  What are we doing?  Oh right.

Evolving public transport

Streetfilms.org has an excellent documentary about the rapid transit system in Curitiba Brasil which is an inspiring model for ideas of how to improve our own transportation infrastructure.

Of note, a few of the ideas are actually quite applicable here:

  • High capacity buses running very frequently on express lines
  • Raised height entry/exit to speed the rate at which passengers can board/exit (also possible, low floor buses)
  • Prepaid fare systems prior to boarding the bus

Our system unfortunately is very cumbersome.  We use buses too large to move quickly, send them to areas far too congested and waste a huge amount of time loading and unloading passengers.  On top of that, the buses aren't even all that convienent as there are many portions of the island that they cannot access.

Is there a better way?  Are there ways we can change the dynamics of public transport in order to make things far more efficient and satisfy the needs of more Bermudians?  If so, getting from where we are to where we want to be begins with measuring the problem and then adapting a plan to solve those problems.

As we've noted, the present system is less than ideal though rather than embark upon random untested and unpredicted solutions to problems that may not exist it would be valuable to spend some time understanding the problem.

Ideally, we should be monitoring and modelling our entire transport system.  We've already covered how anonymous cell-phone signal tracking can be a non-invasive means of monitoring private transport usage so we're left with how to monitor usage of the public systems.  The combination of GPS and automatic passenger counters would enable us to track and model where and when people get on and off such that we could better understand the overall usage and capacity of our transport infrastructure.

Once we actually understand how our transport infrastructure is used we can better adapt and evolve it to better meet the needs of our people.  Through modelling we could discover that there are core bus stops that service the majority of people leading us to create a set of express bus lines that only service those stops.  We could identify spots where buses are frequently stuck waiting for traffic to let them out and add special traffic lights at those points triggerable by bus drivers to force traffic to yield to let the buses out.  We could discover that town is a huge culprit towards the slowdown and resolve to create bus depots outside of town and switch to a minibus system for serving town from those depots.  The possibilities are endless however if we don't take the time to start measuring the problem we'll unfortunately never succeed at managing it.

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Look before you leap

An old adage suggests "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail".  It is what comes to mind when considering how we often rush to implement new ideas without first taking the time to think them through.  Not taking the time may cut bureaucracy and yield expediency but does so at the risk of tarnished results.  Thus are there cases where planning is essential in order to achieve the best results?  Do solid plans created before implementing an idea save the hassle, frustration and lack of forward movement when there isn't one?  Planning such that we identify tangible goals, turn those goals into actions and those actions into quantifiable results?  If so, is it possible to do so while not bogging ourselves down with unnecessary clutter and still ensuring we stay on track?  Sure, but it begins with accepting that we need to plan ahead to start making a difference.

The consequences of a lack of planning once again loom over our heads as we hear that Sales Focus has been dropped as our marketing service provider.  After a snap announcement and a rocky introduction this about face illuminates the consequences of not looking before you leap.  The latest quick fix for tourism has turned out to not be a fix at all as we again find ourselves no further ahead than where we started.  We've burnt time and money but have little to show for it.  Unfortunately quick fixes rarely address the underlying problems.

Some would argue that foresight and planning can hinder the creative process and many would agree.  The word bureaucracy wouldn't hold such negative connotations if it did not often take an age and a day to get simple things done.  Indeed, it was the hallmark of our previous leader to progress at a snails pace which led to the desire for change to a man of less talk and more action.  The problem?  All too often we reap what we sow as rather than finding a balance between talk and action the pendulum has swung too far the other way.  Jumping from one extreme to the next rarely yields the results you seek.

Is upfront planning worth the hassle and frustration you save by not having planned to begin with?  By attacking early with adequate planning and sufficient feedback you're more likely to see your idea bloom into a success.  This rather than witness it bogged down with endless course changes and quick fixes which will surely leave you running in circles.  Planning early means establishing where you're going before you try to get there.  Converting wavy bright ideas into tangible goals and then those goals into actions to establish a definitive means of filling in the steps to get from A to Z without glossing over those 24 letters inbetween.  Of course no plan is bulletproof so criticism is essential and should be embraced as it can point out weaknesses that would have held your plan from succeeding.  In the end, adequate feedback will yield a stronger result as your actions will be more likely to reach for those goals you've set in order to succeed.  

Without being able to determine where you are and how you got there you'll have no idea if you've gone anywhere. Thus comprehensive metrics to track the progress of your actions are essential to ensure you're progressing towards and not away from your goals. If you find yourself side tracked, it's essential to reevaluate from the beginning of these steps to get back to the right path.  Knowing where you're going and staying on track is one of the best ways to actually get there but one we all too frequently overlook.

Unfortunately too many projects have succumbed to an act first, think later approach.  An approach that yields little more than greater bureaucracy every time we try to change gears and come up with a new quick fix  This rather than getting down to solving the core problems through concrete planning before we act.  Education is a good example.  What is our plan?  What are our goals?  What actions are we taking?  How are we measuring our progress?  Few know, but we seem to be changing gears alot.  Other programs suffer the same symptoms.  Future care.  Where's the plan?  Casinos.  Do they meet a goal through an action that serves a part of a clear plan or are they simply another quick fix?  The same could be said of many venues.  Whether or not there are plans for such circumstances, they certainly are not communicated very well and feedback is muted, not encouraged.  As long as we don't conclusively identify what we're aiming to achieve and strive for feedback before setting a path we'll end up achieving nothing and going nowhere.  

The fear is that by not planning we're planning to fail.  Sure planning means more talk and a little less action but without it, we're risking endlessly poor results.  Not planning can cost us more in the long run as we always chase that next quick fix like a dog chasing it's tail, assuredly going nowhere.  Planning may not cut the time it takes to get results but in the end it can make those results more worthwhile.  Does it not make sense to develop solid plans before beginning?  Can we identify tangible goals, turn those goals into actions and those actions into quantifiable results?  This while not bogging ourselves in unnecessary clutter and getting sidetracked on a whim, on the next quick fix?  When we have a plan, can we ensure we stay on track by continuously reevaluating whether we're getting closer to or further away from where we want to be?  Perhaps, but our first step is to admit we need plans so we can agree upon where we are and where we're going before we find ourselves diving blindly into depths unknown.

The magic of spin

*satire*

You've got to love the attempts to spin anything and everything as a positive as it has reached a point where is it just plain humorous.  The latest?  Health Minister Nelson Bascome's suggestion that the high level of interest in Future Care is indicative of it's success.

"Although there has been some concern in the media about us creating limitations on who can access the plan in the first year, I believe that this concern is also an endorsement of how well we have done in creating FutureCare."

"While there was limited interest in the Government's HIP, the interest shown towards FutureCare tells me that we have gotten it right."

Sure.  Clearly last election could have included the promise to make every Bermudian a millionaire and no doubt we'd be in the same predicament.  Subsequent to the election it would have been realized that it wouldn't actually be as simple as printing more money, millions would have been handed out to a handful of people with most Bermudians having gotten the shaft.  Despite this, clearly the program would have been a tremendous success given that every Bermudian scrambled to apply and the media raised questions about how it'd be paid for.  Right?

Clearly since everyone signed up to be a millionaire and there was previously limited interest in our "you're poor, so here's some foodstamps" program, the make everyone a millionaire program is a tremendous achievement.  Nevermind that only a handful made it now, don't worry, we'll get to you later.  Concern over how we'll afford it when we do you say?  That's trivial babble talk as we're taking a 'phased approach' and no indication whatsoever should be required as to how those other than the handful would also receive their millions.  Those are none other than boring actuarial minor details that no one needs to be bothered with.  Don't focus on the fact that you got nothing, focus on the program's success because everyone wants to be a millionaire and you were almost one of the lucky ones who got the chance.  Remember the program is a success people!  A success!

It's magic.