The Bus Philosophy

When you get stuck trying to answer a question, the problem can sometimes be that the question you’re asking is too small. For instance, imagine trying to answer this question in a vacuum: “How many bus stops should there be on this route?”

That may be a very difficult question! To answer it, you need the answers to bigger questions. Where is this bus going? How often? What’s the purpose of this particular bus? Questions like that are needed before the smaller ones.

When we manage projects or organizations, sometimes we get caught up in the smaller questions too early. People argue because they don’t share the same big vision about what’s going on. A shuttle from the airport to a cluster of hotels nearby needs fewer stops than a trolley through a downtown shopping district.

How to best organize a quarterly stakeholder meeting? Well – why are you even having it? What problems are you solving that are helped by this meeting? Those bigger questions will naturally solve a lot of the smaller ones. But you can’t create a vision out of the small details, any more than you could plan an effective bus route by starting with the question of how much the fare should be.

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