Lessons of strategic planning from a Chicago cabbie

While leaving the SHRM Strategy Conference last week, Charlie Judy and I decided to share a cab back to our train stations to depart for the suburbs. May I stop to just say that taking a cab in Chicago is like taking your life into your own hands – read more about that here.

Upon entering the cab – we noticed the Cabbie was already in a tizzy and seemed very perturbed and agitated. We told him that Charlie needed to be dropped at Union Station and then he needed to continue taking me to Olgilvee. He mumbled something in response that we tried to interpret as “No, I can’t go that way it’s Oktoberfest.” Or maybe that’s what we understood to be what he said. Then he quickly swerved into another lane to pass another cabbie and get in front of him. I can’t remember what Charlie said to the guy but I think it was something like “Man – take it easy we have plenty of time.” I could be wrong – my stomach was already in my throat and I was about to throw up.

As the guy tried to figure what route he would take to Union Station – Charlie looked at me and said “Why is this guy going this way if he knows there’s traffic?” I shrugged my shoulders thinking after all – it is Oktoberfest – he had already pointed this out to us. I had no idea because I don’t know my way around the city that well.

Needless to say we were stuck, going at a snail’s pace in bumper to bumper traffic, and what usually is a 10 minute drive took about 45 minutes total.

I laughed when Charlie decided it would be easier for him to just get out and walk the rest of the way – so he wouldn’t miss his train.

So with a few more yells from the Cabbie to other Cabbies and pedestrians he continued on -swerving in front of other cars and people on route. I finally made it to my station and paid the guy and said, “Dude, you should totally chill out and relax – next time make a better plan – or quit your job and do something else.” I was hoping he wouldn’t shoot me while walking walked away.

It left me thinking, if this guy knew that Oktoberfest was going on – shouldn’t he have planned an alternative route and could have avoided the congestion, the agitation and stress associated with it all? This would have then created an all-around good experience in getting us from point A to point B. Instead, he chose not to, to go with the rest of the crowd which created chaos and affected all involved.

Come to think of it this is what we do in life, business and the world of work. It truly affects those around us and causes us to stress out majorly. We continue doing the same things because they’re familiar or comfortable – to go in the direction of the crowd and most of the time it is totally ineffective. It makes us difficult to be around and creates chaos in our life and work.

Maybe it’s time to do something different. To take a different approach. To take a different route. Or quit – and go do something else. Just a thought.