There are 4 steps in addressing transport challenges – I use the acronym SAID:
- S: Strategy. Describe the specific challenges, the desired results, and who you need to work with.
- A: Analysis. Identify the specific problem(s) being faced, the cause and effect.
- I: Instruments or Interventions. Choosing from the range of solution options available.
- D: Decisions. Build the case for the investment in the preferred solution.
Let us start with Strategy. Too often as transport professionals we fall into the trap of problem-solution thinking – jumping to solutions without adequately considering and thinking through what are the issues, challenges or problems being addressed.
The context of the challenges you wish to address are critical. So jumping to a solution based on past experience or a successful application somewhere else may not be the most appropriate, or cost-effective, or practical. Or it just might.
In every situation there are policy parameters, context, even constraints that have to be taken into consideration.
There are practical limits or constraints in terms of budget, politics, and community opinion, plus what is feasible for the stakeholders involved, and their current capacity and capability to deliver the desired results.
Any successful solution to a transport challenge has to consider cause and effect.
Do you really understand the base causes of the issues or problems you are trying to address?
If you don’t then you may end up just treating the symptoms and the problem will just rise up again, because the cause hasn’t been addressed.
In the Analysis phase you will drill down and deconstruct the challenges from a strategic and tactical perspective. More on that in a later article. But before jumping into that analysis it is important to establish a ‘results focus’.
A results focus is having an ambition to improve and establishing an agreed approach and accountability, with a focus on achieved results for transport users and the community.
This strategic orientation will provide a focus and drive a series of progressive actions, monitored using an agreed performance framework.
You need a clear vision of the ultimate results to keep on track.
At the highest level there are the transport system objectives that have a direct relationship and contribution to community goals, in terms of economy, society and the environment – referred to as the triple bottom line.
Your focus needs to show how your proposed solution contributes to those strategic goals.
A very useful tool to help this address transport challenges is logic mapping, which follows a hierarchy of outcomes or objectives approach. This is similar in concept to Logical Framework Analysis (LogFrame) that is preferred by international aid agencies.
A ‘Logic Map’ consists of five stages: context – input – output – outcomes – impact, with a process to convert inputs to outputs.
In the Strategy stage, the first and latter stages of a logic map are developed, that is ‘context’ or operating environment and the ‘outcome’ and impact’, or results stages.
To be able to deliver any proposed solution to address transport challenges, requires you to build support from key stakeholders.
Note that it is not practical or feasible to try and deal with every potential stakeholder, or treat them all equally. Ignoring stakeholders altogether usually results in failure or partial success at best.
You first need to identify who are the key stakeholders.
There are two tests I suggest to identify the key ones: (i) those stakeholders with a very high level of interest in your proposal, including those who you will rely on to contribute to the results, or those affected by what you propose; and/or (ii) those stakeholders that can have significant influence on the success (real or perceived) of your proposal.
There will always be winners and losers. By understanding the spectrum of interest vs influence you will be in a position to align deliverables and minimise any potential threats.
- beware of problem-solution thinking
- understand the specific context of challenges to be addressed
- establish an ambition to improve – establish a results focus
- identify how the proposal contributes to strategic outcome
- logic mapping can help show the process from challenges to results
- identify and engage key stakeholders, align deliverables and minimise threats.
This is a 4 part series
See other articles in this series:
- Addressing Transport Challenges – Part 2 Analysis
- Addressing Transport Challenges – Part 3 Interventions
- Addressing Transport Challenges – Part 4 Decisions
Want to learn more?
Enrol in the online course Developing Practical Transport Policy