Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Travel, processes and back to blogging

After a nice little trip to London to visit friends and family I have made it back to Boston. I avoided reading too much work-related email while I was away, so now I'm playing that big catch-up game. Feeling tied to blogging during this time (both mine and my regular reads) was also a new experience, so I'm trying to skim some of the more interesting blogs I missed while I was away.

As ever, airport security, immigration and customs formalities were interesting to watch and judge from a 'process' standpoint. Heathrow always strikes me to be a reflection of London as a city - the airport manages to cram a large number of impatient people into a small space and half a dozen chain pubs, while formalities try to be effective and efficient but somehow just fail to get it completely right. Logan airport similarly models Boston, with constant construction work, ineffective directions, and security and customs formalities that seem to require an ever increasing number of people and paperwork, but at least seem to work OK.

I would also love to meet the bloke that originally designed the baggage claim conveyor. Another idea in industrial efficiency, badly executed in most airports. I don't claim any abilities in handling big, physical processes like baggage handling, but I do wonder if anyone with a process or manufacturing background has really looked at our largest airports to see how this most visible process could be improved so that people will actually check in their luggage.

Similarly, I'm sure that many business process experts could look at the paper handling around customs and immigration and really improve the processes. To my untrained eye there appears to be many things that could be done, including reducing paperwork, improving forms, making effective use of available technology that could make the traveler's experience (and waiting times) far better.

As ever, travel is a great experience, with even the most familiar places and processes becoming open to new interpretation when you've been away from them for a while!

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