13
Oct
09

Royal Mail strike – blame the red elastic band

I think it’s about time that all us technologists and software developers and web developers and social Web 2 marketing companies and SEO guys and Twitter Trenders came clean and thanked The Royal Mail.  So…..

“Thank you Royal Mail…. ps we’ll miss you when you’ve gone”

I don’t know who is to blame – employer, employee or union – but I do know that every time they go on strike that they loose business. Each time the post is disrupted more businesses look to the web and internet tchnologies to solve the communication gap forced upon them. Paying bills using BACS, Direct Debit and Standing Order becomes an essential operational activity and introducing electronic payment methods via web and by Direct Debit becomes essential for even small businesses. 

But why is the Post Office in decline – what’s went wrong?

Fairly obviously the decline of the Royal Mail can be traced back directly to when they started using red elastic bands to hold (and bend) our mail. Before then our gardens, pavements and desk drawers were elastic band free – but now it’s impossible to move anywhere without tripping over them. And in those elastic band free days our post arrived with our Porridge and Toast and then again with the afternoon Tea and Cake. Post twice and daily – as regular as someone on Yakult (no I don’t use it) – and not a rubber band in sight.

It’s not as daft a theory as you would think. I can remember when an elastic band was something to be treasured and kept safe. As a kid combining a rare to find elastic band with your fngers created the perfect trebuchet to fire folded bus tickets at your mates – you could take an eye out with them you know (normally my own – mine always backfired). But now our posties discard them and our Royal Mail distribute them freely around the country. Check your top drawer if you work near or in reception – yip thought so – full of elastic bands.

You see my theory goes something like this – if you don’t trust the postie enough to keep the mail organised in his bag without first splitting everything up using elastic bands then the chances are that you don’t trust the postie to do his job. And if you really need to micro manage the postie’s bag in this way then pretty soon everyone and everything in The Royal Mail needs the same level of process and procedure. I’m not knocking process and procedure – business relies on it – but maybe just maybe the red elastic band is a step to far – maybe it is a symptom of a busineess failing rather than a business getting organised. Ultimately business relies on good people – the red elastic band signals something going wrong – it may even have deskilled the job.

Postcode sorting technology and asset tracking systems have revolutionised the post and the logistics world – they’ve even caused some industrial disputes – but who’d have thought that the technology that has been quietly destroying the UK postal service has been nothing more complicated than elastic.

I’m off to build a trebuchet made from two hundred red elastic bands and a supermarket trolley. Think I’ll promote it, sell it and take payment for it all online…….but I wonder who I can get to deliver it? 

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