“Elephants and mice”
Everyone who has a concept of innovative transportation system can initiate and organize entrepreneurship to research, develop or implement new system. For the sake of discussion we define two categories of entrepreneurs. “Elephants” are those who have a lot of money and public influence like governments or gigantic corporation, and “mice” are corporations or individuals who are small relatively to the “world of transportation”.
Transportation is a public matter, and hence it may be expected naturally that public authorities would be involved entirely or partly in research, development and implementation of innovative transportation systems. So far reality was difference. Traditional private organizations and concepts rule the transportation world, and no “elephant” braved the existing systems with a new vision that was supported and lasted for a long term.
Public organizations have conspicuous advantages like accessibility to the government or public resources, and low degree of financial interests that orient private corporations. One thing is quite sure, significant change in transportation would not be done without public involvement. In a certain stage central government should be interfere and involved actively in a process of evolution of transportation scheme.
Apparently, “elephants” have the power and the means to fight efficiently the “kingdom of transportation world”, but although their advantages “elephants” have their limits and restrictions:
Because of their size, “elephants” cannot be maneuvered easily and every pace of them takes a lot of time. Till they plan their fight the weapon can be changed as well as their leaders, so they have always to reconsider the plans. “Elephants” are governed usually by many individuals and interests, so many times although their illusive size and leadership they do not lead but are guided by others.
“Elephants’ fights” are risky and dangerous. When “elephant” encounter face to face with opposing “elephant”, The “elephants’ fight” might ruin the jungle and cause a lot of damages on the way to kingdom. Forcing relentlessly innovative transportation systems may cause injustice, drastic unemployment or distress to those who rely on the existing systems.
Public organizations are notorious of slackness and inefficiency, many times unjustifiably. A good structure or motivation of honest employees who believe in their acts can overcome the disadvantages of public organization.
Presumably the dominated political fashion of privatization will leave the “elephants” out of the arena of initiation the upgrading of transportation schemes. Public authorities will continue to fight road accidents with ineffective acts of law enforcement and propaganda but will not initiate a creative solution to solve this problem.
Most of those who have transportation technologies or concepts, which seems apparently better than the existing scheme can be considered “mice” beside the huge economical, cultural or sociological wall that had been created during decades of motorize vehicle evolution. “Mouse” like entrepreneur cannot break the wall, but he can pierce a small crack in the wall. The mice should find a hole, a niche or a crack in the wall where they can put their footprint. Every individual mouse has no value, but united group of mice can gain power. Mice are vulnerable and can be easily trampled by other animals, they should be agile, and leave ways of retreat, in case of failure.
The comparison to mice beside a huge wall was intended to point out that most of those who want to break the huge wall should hold “mice” strategies of survival.
Differences between public and private organizations
Private sector orientation is totally different than that of the public sector and its representatives. These differences may set high hurdles in front of every initiation of cooperation between public and private sectors concerning innovative transportation systems.
Hereunder are few differences that may cause conflicts in any negotiation to execute automatic intelligent transportation system between private and public sectors. Closing the common gaps between the public sector and the private sector demand unusual thinking and solutions, which are not common.
- Enthusiastic private entrepreneurs, who have faith in the future of their unproved systems, may encounter skeptical lukewarm public and public representatives.
- Logical and promising, but immature, untested or undeveloped concepts and technologies may encounter public authorities that prefer less promising but proven technologies.
- Private businesses free or ready to risk their private capital may encounter public representative minded and oriented to avert risks to public resources.
- Scanty concepts and technologies may encounter public who had bad experience and is afraid of monopolies and is used to make alliances only after competitive tendering between various technologies.
- Entrepreneurs, who hold innovative technologies, may encounter public who lacks knowledge, ability and resources to understand or be a partner to technology development.
- Public representatives, who are used to follow technology, may face expectation that they will lead new technology.
- Businessman, who may disperse risks in global markets, is supposed to meet local public authority that can not put all its eggs in a one basket of a sole local transportation program.
Private entrepreneurs, who may have balanced cash flow and future financial plan, may encounter public authority with strict budget that may be short of financial liquidity, or vice versa.
- New concepts that solidify the infrastructure the vehicles and the conduction will find public authorities that are used to traditional separation between infrastructure and vehicles, and will be reluctant to give exclusive rights of way to private factor.
- Private interests who are ready and decisive to undertake upon themselves implementation of solid business plan, may encounter hesitated public, struggle with internal conflicts, or public authority that may change its policy or representatives, or may enact new burdensome regulations.
- Private interests with long vision may encounter politicians with short sight motivated by limited election period, public opinion and narrow interests.
- Private business that wishes to secure his reward may find suspicious authority that will ask for performance guarantee and will be reluctant to secure the private interest.
- Private business that aspires to be agile and collect quick profits may encounter public indifference to the time factor and the profits.
- Public local authorities that agree to undertake limited risk may find themselves facing new start up organization with no reputation or financial stability.
- Public calculated risk must be taken somewhere, but no public authority wants to be the first guinea pig subjected to this social experiment. Everyone waits for someone else to take the risk of failure or make the breakthrough. In such a state of mind it is hard to consider the advantages that may be gained by the brave pioneers.
Union and integration problems
Union and integration of the individuals and organizations that must cooperate in order to build a minimal innovative transportation system is a basic step toward practical implementation of new transportation system. When speaking about “mice” strategies unification is also a strategy to gather power and survive.
Developing new transportation scheme is a complicated process that involves many schools, disciplines, methods, and interests. Combining this scheme may provoke many conflicts, as demonstrated below:
- Setting transportation priorities may be based on different philosophies, needs and emotions. Each individual may see the situation, the problems, or the preferences from a different point of view, and it might be hard to agree upon one solution.
- Every potential partner in a consortium may offer the union substantially different contribution. One may offer a piece of land or way, and other may offer intellectual property, one may offer long experience and other may offer high enthusiasm and motivation, one may offer registered patent and other may offer unregistered important know-how. The interest of every potential partner is to increase is share in the consortium on the account of the others. Each partner may legitimately think that his contribution to the consortium is greater than the others and definitely some partners will deserve greater part. It seems hard to release the stress between the different competing interests.
- Transportation upgrading involve many different professional disciplines, like transportation planning, construction planning, urban planning, mechanical engineering, software engineering, or civil engineering. The process demands understanding of Geography, Psychology, Public policy, Law, Media, Marketing, Finance, Accounting and other aspects that should be taken into account and may set conflicts as different agenda, priorities, or schedule.
- The requirement to join public and private interests and organizations may pose many conflicts and different outlooks and orientation as mentioned above.
- Organizing a group that share the same interest in innovative transportation system may found to be hard and distressing. The ex-centric forces that might dissolve any coalition should be identified in order to find pertinent sustainable arrangement that will be set equilibration point between the opposite powers.
- After superficial observation of the potential conflicts, trying to achieve loyalty between different partners seems unrealistic. The experience from cooperative societies proves that loyalty may be found in small partnerships, but in complicated schemes it is impractical to try to achieve full loyalty between many partners.
Building a coalition and solidarity
With awareness to the difficulties that were mentioned above, we believe there is a way to build a coalition and solidarity to establish a consortium and build operational teams to upgrade transportation systems.
The glue of the coalition is the common interest and vision that will be the consolidating power to converge the different interests of the partners.
The ground to reach a consensus among different interests owner is the low expectations of all the “mice” who face the huge wall. In this stage when the expectations are low there is no reason to decisively fight or protect an interest that has no significant value. In the modern competitive technological world many offer their merchandise for free trial, trusting and gambling on this strategy of marketing. Where ideas exist, but finance is lack, when motivation and ambition exist but connections with the right people are lack, when potential exist but high hurdles shadow the lights, this strategy may succeed.
The potential partners of the consortium are factors that each one of them holds low value asset with high potential. These assets may be inefficient roads or lands, futile intellectual property, futile technologies, unused talent, free time, willpower, ambition, experience, diligence or industriousness. These low value assets have high potential, subject to one condition – cooperation. The advantage of the various assets will be affective only if all the factors will cooperate to assemble their low-value assets to one scheme that will be able to achieve benefits from the cumulative value of the various components.
Communion of technology owners even in relatively small entrepreneurship may lever the property value of the technologies, while getting a chance to be tested, proved and extend the stake and prospects to be integrated in future mainstream huge markets. The cooperation is a common interest of each member of a consortium and the interest of the consortium. This common interest may be the glue of the partnership, and source of motivation of the partners and the group. The success of the consortium is identified with the interest of each partner who has share in a consortium.
It might be difficult to achieve consensus on a definition of the right transportation vision. This problem might be solved by agreement on a general definition of fundamental common vision. After the agreement on a basic vision, controversies may be settled or completed by consensus on targets, procedure of democracy rule, or by agreement to leave some of the controversies or the conceptual decision to the customers, to the public opinion in the relevant market or to agreed professional authority.
Initiating a framework
The shift from theoretically ideas and concepts to reality may arose practical problems or eliminate some theoretical problems. Practical problems should be solved by facing reality and cannot be solved in general, but some ideas or principles may help.
- Building a new framework to implement a new transportation system could be started by a hard-core of way owners in a local zone and experts who have proper technologies. The way owners will be probably public represented by a local public authority that will dare and be ready to participate in such an experiment. The integration of local landowners may confine the target of execution to narrow problem in a local niche in a local market. Confining the target to a defined zone has important merit of simplifying the complicated problems.
- The hard-core should set a relatively simple target, for example, to build a basic innovative transportation scheme that will be better than the existing one in a confined zone.
- The hard-core will have to build a team and gather wider coalition around the core. The value of the framework will probably be added progressively due to the socialization of different interests around one idea, and the unification and integration of different schools and disciplines around one agreed concept.
- The founders should negotiate with the potential partners, establish the articles of the consortium and define the functions, obligations or exemptions that each one of the partners will undertake. Against the liabilities of the partners they should get agreed payment – this payment can be done by means of liquid payments, debenture in the consortium or a proper amounts of shares.
- There are few reasons, as well as the need to facilitate the negotiation process, to recommend that assets like land or intellectual properties will not be sold to the new consortium, but every owner will grant limited license or charter to the consortium to use his rights. Licensing may ease the negotiation tension, while securing the team interest for a local region and limited period, and the owners interests for the long terms and global possibilities.
- After negotiation with the basic partners timetables and operational plans can be set.
Open flexible organization structure
In order to be sensitive, attentive and adaptive to public demands, and in order to succeed hitting the moving target of new technologies emergence, the technology design and the consortium structure should be open and flexible to changes.
Every system must work in harmony, but one defected or obsolete component could hamper the whole scheme, and one fatigue horse may hamper the carriage. The interest of the consortium, the team and each partner is that by way of evolutionary natural choice weak links will be substitute. The consortium should be a versatile flexible organization that can be changed relatively easy and stabilize itself in a state of liquid equilibrium, ready to make the next change.
High sensitivity to elasticity opposes other interests that should be considered and be well balanced.
- Certainty and security
– Naturally, every partner and the whole group may wish for strong links and certainty. Every partner will rely on the copartners and on certain plan of the consortium. Every partner will be asked and take upon himself to invest money and time with anticipation for future profits and not with the fear of dismissal.
- Block design
– Mechanical systems are generally planed and build as one solid block and not as composition of modular components. The need or aspiration to replace one component may have negative impact on the whole scheme.
– One of the fundamental principles in traditional partnerships is loyalty. Each partner obliges to do his utmost for the benefit of the partnership and the copartners on the assumption that the other partners act on the same basis. In a consortium where every partner might be replaced by others or vote to replace others, it is hard to ask for full loyalty.
– Players in a team may encourage each other to win the game, but may also be a source of discourage. Partnership may yield benefits when the partners spur each other or disadvantages when fears or mistrust infiltrate. When partners are fear to be dismissed from the consortium they might loose motivation.
The aspiration for flexibility may be balanced by few methods:
- The rights and the duties of each partner and the consortium will be defined by agreements prior to participation. Every partner should know in advanced his roll, function and status in the consortium, and he should undertake upon himself specific obligations to fulfill certain part according to certain timetable. Breach of defined obligation, or fraud will privilege the consortium to dismiss the partner with limited rights or penalty.
- Substitution of partner by partners vote with no-fault, (- because of customers’ demand or better technology), will be done on predefined conditions and according to predefined procedure. Partner who might be removed from the consortium will have the rights to return back all his assets and contribution to the consortium and will be entitled for reimbursement of his investments in the consortium. Probably the new partner will have to buy the shares and the credit of the leaving partner.
The fair dismissal process and the payment will give the partners certainty and motivation to work hard although the fear of substitution. For the removed partner it should not be the end of his career, but a new start. Every market have its specific demands and needs. The fact that one component does not fit in a certain team means that he should find a new different team or strive from the outside to get back to the old team.
- A valve clause may arrange that when a partner will initiate his depart, he will be able to sell it to someone else that will be able to replace him and undertake his obligation.
- It may be recommended that property rights owners will retain the ownership of their property and will grant limited and non-exclusive franchises to the consortium. The limited franchise will enable intellectual property owners to enjoy the freedom to continue and use their intellectual property elsewhere.
- The limited license may balance the limited loyalty of the consortium to its partners. Loyalty relationships must be frail in order to leave wide maneuvering space to each partner. Loyalty can be replaced by honesty. Confinement of the consortium to defined locality may isolate the interest of the consortium and may ease the conflict of loyalties.
- The motivation problem can be solved if the partners will understand the rules of the game before they start playing. The consortium should act as a team striving for a joint success. New player may replace a player that is not fit for the standards of the team. The tension of competition can ignite the will and the motivation of every partner to win for his own success and for the team success. Sportive spirit might explain the volatile place of the partners in the consortium.
Organization durability and perpetuity
Implementing innovative transportation system is a long process that suppose to yield profits in a long or medium period after weathering risky way and long service. Organization that will be established to fulfill this kind of mission should be planned with the forethought of durability and perpetuity, and not as a short-term entrepreneurship to gain quick and easy profits.
The world is full with examples of short termed commercial businesses that have been bankrupted and loss all their assets. As extreme opposite there are institutions who have been succeeded to survive hundreds years, many of them are religious, cultural or educational institutions that depend on commercial profitability.
Organizations that undertake upon themselves to implement a new transportation system should not be durable as a monastery, but should not be economically fragile either. There are few strategies to retain the durability and perpetuity of the organizations.
– Materialistic dependency is weaker than human spirit or knowledge dependency, materials can be depleted but not ideas, knowledge or experience. If the organization will keep a proper ratio between vision, spirit and knowledge dependency and materialistic dependency it will be able to challenge the anticipated crises, strong resistance, disappointments, and technical problems, and will be less vulnerable to bankruptcy.
- Separation of properties and execution
– there may be advantage in keeping the intellectual property ownership in the hands of the owners and limit the consortium targets to execute the ideas. In case of failure, the separation between ideas, knowledge and execution might help to reserve the knowledge or spirit of the disappointed “mice entrepreneurs” untouched.
– The strategy of flexibility that mentioned above may set groundwork for durability. Many times failures are not constitutional, but depend on limited components. When there are inherent opportunities to learn lessons and substitute wrong factors, the organization can change its form and revive like the mythological sand fowl.
- Net structure
– A net structure have many survivability advantages. (- The Internet was evolved as a military survival technology). Net structure of the consortium can use efficiently communication network and firm its sustainability.
Net structure means that there is no one leader or head, but operation of array. The operation of the partners in the consortium may resemble an orchestra in which every player is playing his own instrument in harmony with others, using his tool according to common program. The players of the orchestra have common cause to act together – The outcome of the orchestra is better than that of the solo player. The orchestra can use the organizational framework to play different melodies, and is able to keep its entity when changing one or several of its members.
The orchestra operations are coordinated by a conductor but not by a leader, the same method may be implemented in the consortium, its manager may be a professional coordinator that will orchestrate the system, set timetable, architecture and control. The manager will be coordinator but the leadership will be in the hands of the partners.
Union and integration can be done under the auspices of a sole entrepreneur who may have some advantages like wisdom, experience or wealth. Leadership of central factor may have some advantages; the leader may organize, lead, push the system and keep its progress and sustainability. On the other hand, central leader may be biased and may pull the scheme toward narrow interest or may limit the versatility and flexibility of the scheme.
By using the facilities of communication networks, the function of the traditional board of directors may be redundant. The traditional directory can be replaced by the general assembly that can use the communication network as a forum of meeting, coordination, updating, and decision making. Brain-trust of all the partners in the decision making process may conduct better decisions that will not be an outcome of limited self-interests, and may keep the involvement and motivation of the partners.
- Incremental development
– pacing in incremental steps of growing and correcting side by side to customers demands, from simple and cheap solutions toward sophisticated and expensive solutions may help to avoid risks of failure and redundant expenses.
- Quick settlement of conflicts
– It is essential for the sake of durability that every conflict within the consortium will be solved quickly and efficiently. This can be done by known ways of mediation, arbitration, mitigation or compromise. At early stages marketing problems should dwarf many other conflicts, and in case of relevancy giving priority to marketing demands may soft many inside conflicts.
- Leaving ways of retreat
– With all the survival strategies, failure can occur. The probability of failure can be pre-considered and agreed arrangements can be stipulated. When setting these arrangements it should be taken into account that the failure of the consortium is not identify with the failure of its members. The “mice” members should leave themselves ways of retreat and option to rearrange a new scheme.