What’s your playbook?

With gamification on mobile devices we can present our employees with engaging scenarios that allow them to test alternative solutions, learning along the way, without any fear of public embarrassment for having got an answer wrong

Sports coaches are big on playbooks, they not only work on the physical and mental fitness of their proteges, their star performers, but they also work on ‘what if ’ scenarios. ‘What if the opposing team or player does this during the game tomorrow, how should we respond?’ We’ve all seen these images of American football coaches with play sheets on a clipboard and now on an iPad, drawing lines in which they attempt to anticipate what the opponent will do and how their team should react, while barking instructions into a microphone.

The armed forces are of course famed for doing this, they probably wrote the original playbooks. Hannibal in 216 BC famously estimated that a much larger but also more rigid Roman army would not know how to react when surrounded on all four sides by a rag – tag army of mercenaries from North Africa and Europe.

Restaurateurs are great on practice practice practice until perfection is achieved. They coined the term ‘soft launch’ and keep restaurants open for days before the official launch, so as to give everyone from the chef to the server time to iron out the glitches.

Our industry on the other hand, seems to thrive on ‘winging it’, or so it feels at least. New stations are opened by airlines, handling companies are appointed a good ten days in advance (!) and the handling companies pull in employees off the street or from the competition, just in time for the first flight to be handled, or mishandled, as the case may be. Cargo piles up for a few days or weeks while the hapless employees figure out which way is up. Shipping lines are marginally better, if only because they usually have more than ten days to prepare, but even then there are scenes that we have all seen of piled up containers, as trailers find their way in- and out of the port or the CFS.

I wrote two issues ago about how learning should be both pervasive and compelling so that employees can pull content when they most want to, rather than having us as employers force it on them. The huge potential of e-learning and mobile learning means that we too as an industry can create ‘what if ’ scenarios and playbooks. I would argue that it’s much much more important for us to do so, given how capital intensive our industry is, than it is for example for restaurants, no disrespect intended. It’s ironic that a restaurant where the average dish costs `500 – `600, less than $10, spends more time on practice and preparation than an industry where the average shipment costs $1500 or more to transport.

With gamification on mobile devices we can present our employees with engaging scenarios that allow them to test alternative solutions, learning along the way, without any fear of public embarrassment for having got an answer wrong.

Whether you’re on the commercial, operational or HR side of the logistics industry, let this be a call to action to spend more of your time in preparation and anticipation than in reparation.

Sanjay tweets on @jitiwariji, blogs on sanjaytiwari.com and can be reached on sanjay. tiwari@21cceducation.com