Happy Trails

As decades passed and these theories were put into an increasingly strong Japanese economy, theorists all over the world began emulating these practices and calling them “like the Japanese models.” Here they had always been American models of success but the isolated Japanese “experiment” allowed these theories to flourish due to the rigidity of that culture.

These examples of success were increasingly reflected in factory work, particularly automobiles. Hoards of American execs were filing in and out of Japan to see how their Honda plants ran. They were fascinated that staff met in the morning for calisthenics and that the “management by walking around” theories elicited opinions from line workers to machine oilers. The theory was simple. No one knows more about this machine than the guy that runs it. If I don’t ask his opinion, how can I possibly improve it, maintain it, increase its productivity?

As bridges, walkways, and paths are considered by your entity understand that the number of valid vs. invalid assumptions you create makes your final product weak or strong.

Wherever you can back your assumptions up with fact or verification through an established pattern you are only strengthening your deliverables to the public.

Public Trails

Remember there was once a camera company that patented a process for the consumer to take an “instant picture” that would develop right before their eyes.

The company made the assumption that everybody would always want an instant photo over one that had to be developed.

For a while, this theory held up. Then another company made 35mm cameras affordable and they produced a picture with higher quality than the instant photo.

The instant photo company was almost forced out of business and never really closed the gap in that area again. Assumptions were given more weight than research. The people using the cameras were never asked what was important to them; quality or speed.

User surveys can be mailed. Patrons can also be asked to fill them out at stations posted throughout the parks. On-foot user surveys can be accomplished during busy seasons with a one or two question “walk up” survey. Traffic patterns can be studied.

Maintenance workers who know the areas and lay of the land should be interviewed. Park planners can provide cost/benefit analysis regarding the value of connecting one area to another through a bridge, walkway or trail.

In short, the wise parks and recreation department will spend a substantial portion of their time (not necessarily budget) researching their decisions as well as implementing them. It is time and money well spent and bridges the gap between merely providing what is needed and happily delivering what is wanted and appreciated.

Ronald D. Ciancutti is the purchasing manager for Cleveland Metroparks. Ron can be reached at rdc@clevelandmetroparks.com.

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