There has been a lot of talk about road maps this week, and this is probably a timely point at which the trucking industry should start looking at a road map for trucking to take us into the brave new post-Covid world.
A lot has changed this year and the industry has learned to adapt quickly to the new and constantly changing environment in which we work. This clearly demonstrates a trucking industry able to adapt quickly and efficiently to a new situation and willing to try a new way of doing things at the drop of a hat.
So, we can see that, when the chips are down, we can change with few issues and solve problems well. However, when the situation isn’t some sort of crisis, we don’t like change at all. If there is no really powerful incentive for change, the culture of the trucking industry can start to act like the customary ‘immoveable object’.
As a result of this inertia when there is no panic, but ability to be flexible, think outside of the box and come up with the goods (often quite literally), the trucking industry only makes reactive changes when it has to.
There are very few rational changes, thought out and discussed within the trucking industry, which bring about a major change in the way the industry behaves or presents itself when the situation is calm. It always has to be a crisis.
It is easy to see where this ability to adapt really effectively in a crisis developed in the trucking industry culture. The pioneers of the industry had to come up with adaptive solutions all of the time, parked along the side of a highway in the middle of nowhere with a differential or a gearbox in need of open heart surgery.
The ability to improvise and come up with a solution which worked and didn’t cost too much was vital to the survival of all of our major trucking fleets in their early days.
These early experiences also developed another facet of the culture, a fierce independence, which is also a vital component of the ability to come up with smart solutions in a tough situation.
Another aspect of this fierce independence is a strong resistance to being told what to do by others, especially the regulatory authorities and governments. In those days the trucking industry lived out on the highway in a bubble, ignored by governments, while fight an ongoing guerrilla war with the local cops.
All of this culture we had developed served us well for a long time, but now is very much out of date. Many people in the industry will tell you this old culture is dead and buried, and that we are a modern well informed industry, at the cutting edge.
Unfortunately, this is not true. There are pockets of new thinking and cutting edge techniques and procedures, but a very large part of the industry is still in and around that seventies mindset, albeit with adaptations to the modern world.
Perhaps now is the time, when there is positive sentiment towards us and a lot of talk about a new normal and post-Covid world, that we could just have a look at the way the industry thinks and approaches issues.
The opportunity to create a road map for trucking is with us now, the economy and society are in a state of flux. Things are going to be very different a lot will never change back to its 2019 state. Let’s look at the big picture and get a handle of the kind of road transport which will be able to move forward in this new environment.