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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

SMRT's Magic Wand

I kinda think it is not reasonable for people to expect...
(1) that equipment will suddenly become new and...
(2) poor work processes as well as...
(3) management practices...
... will quickly improve just because a CEO was retired and a new CEO took over.

It takes time to clean up other people's crap, you know.

Why Punish the New CEO?
The new CEO is not responsible for the bad state of affairs but people still want to dock his pay. That too does not seem very reasonable to me. If you paid a new CEO badly because of a previous CEO's actions, then you can only attract poor calibre CEOs. Then, even more the whole network would continue downhill. Desmond Kuek is probably paid more than the previous CEO because his job is many times more challenging.

The previous CEO was given a healthy system to run. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Desmond Kuek has to bring health back to a system whilst keeping it running! That is a tougher job.

The SMRT is 28 years old.

How old are your refrigerators / washing machines / gas stoves?

The equipment is 28 years old. Due to insufficient maintenance in the past, the system has aged even faster than it should have. Ideally, system renewal should start from Day 1. Unfortunately, it did not.

So how?

Behead Someone?
I suppose we could dig the previous CEO out of comfortable retirement and behead him/her? Even then, it won't fix the system. It is just some bloodletting à la ISIS. Do we really want to be like ISIS?

Shut Down the Network for a Few Years?
We could shut down the entire network for a few years to effectuate a complete and thorough changeout of every single part so that we can have an all new system again. In essence, close it all down for a few years and rebuild.

Sack All Long Time Staff?
The CEO does not do everything in the company by himself. Wouldn't it be great if companies could operate through a hive mind. From the moment you change the Queen Bee, all the worker bees know her mind. From the moment a CEO takes over, he/she and his/her staff can meld their minds.

Long time staff need time to learn new ways. To be humane, SMRT cannot sack them all wholesale. Even if staff were sacked wholesale, new staff need time to learn the ropes, no?

Wave a Magic Wand?
I think it is not reasonable to expect immediate results from Desmond Kuek. He cannot wave away with a magic wand, 3 decades of bad maintenance practices AND poor staff habits.

It took 5 years to build the network (see HERE: 1982 to 1987), and if you consider that only part of the network was built in 5 years, then you would understand that the whole network needed perhaps 10 - 15 years to build (not sure of this)? Desmond Kuek has to renew hundreds of kilometres of network whilst running the services 7 days a week. Can an entire system be renewed within 5 years part-time (at night) when the whole system needed more than 5 years (full-time) to build?

System reliability is a function of ...
(1) system health and
(2) human operational habits
(3) system design

System Health
To ensure system health, there needs to be (I would imagine) a phased change-out of the various component parts. I don't see how the whole system can be renewed altogether at once unless the whole network shuts down for a couple of years. Even if the system shuts down for a few years, renewal would still need to be phased and scheduled.

When you renovate your new apartment, does everything go in together? Do not the different crafts (woodwork, tiles, electricity, curtains) need to be phased and scheduled for installation?

That takes time. We are talking about 28 years of neglect, 28 years of ageing... and hundreds of kilometres of track to make good. Since these are railway tracks, as long as even 1 train is running, no engineers can work on the tracks. If trains run from 5.30 a.m. to midnight, I don't suppose the engineers have much time to work on the tracks - 3 hours? 4? 5?

Staff Habits
To change the habits of old timer SMRT staff, there needs to be training, coaching, incentives and disincentives. These need time to work, no? Besides, it takes a while for people to change. Unless of course, the solution is to sack all the old-timers.

Isn't that a very ruthless a way to turnaround a company?

System Design
As for system design, SMRT, as I understand it, has no say in design. Its mandate is to run the trains.

Meanwhile in Malaysia, 6 bank accounts of their Prime Minister that 670 million was allegedly funnelled into are frozen. Online rumours swirl about possible relation to murder of Ambank founder.

- Quoted wholesale from Calvin Cheng's Facebook post. -

1 comment:

Melodies said...

Just saw this post. Poor LTY n current management got all the blames. Malaysia government is a Micky mouse government la! 'Many quiters' speak it all. Tak boleh tahan!