The Masterly Tram Innovation Plan


In 1967 a document written by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB) was officially stamped “Strictly Confidential” and was granted Restricted Access under the Australian Secrets Act for a period of 50 years. A few weeks ago, this document titled “A Plan to Enhance Tram Commuter Innovation via Strategic Design Disruption” was obtained under the Commonwealth Freedom of Information Laws and was promptly delivered to an eagerly awaiting Melbourne newspaper journalist.

After a few hours of detailed reading, the journalist dropped the heavy red leather bound 100 page document onto her office floor with a loud thud in a state of total astonishment and disbelief. She had just read a master plan cleverly constructed by the MMTB that explained in great detail how the Melbourne tram network was designed, developed and implemented as part of a secret psychological behavioural study commissioned by a leading Melbourne University Professor.  According to this Professor, the supple, malleable mind of the unsuspecting naive Melbourne tram user could be surreptitiously modified to think creatively via the use of some simple transport network modifications. Under the cloak of innovation, the following modes of tram operation were devised.

  1.  Punctuality
    An official MMTB tram timetable was published which made the commuter think that a tram might be arriving/departing according to the schedule. But no, this was never the intention, as all tram drivers were provided with a different, totally random timetable that had no correlation with that used by the commuter.
    The Benefit: This forced the commuter to develop innovative justifications to explain why they were always late. There was also an additional bonus of suspense as the commuter never really knew when the tram was going to arrive or depart.
  1. Tram Stop
    Tram Drivers were instructed never to stop in the middle of a designated tram stop, but always a few feet before, or after it. Some were even told not to actually stop, but to reduce the tram speed to an observable calculated velocity where the commuter thought it was just slow enough not to cause them significant personal harm as they scurried for the open door moving past them.
    The Benefit: In an attempt to reduce the growing problem of commuter obesity, this provided the traveller with some daily physical exercise, and always made sure that their reflexes were primed to leap into a partially open tram door when available.
  1. Tram Seats
    When the trams were being serviced at the depot in preparation for the following days commuter allocation, MMTB cleaners were instructed to deliberately dirty up a few seats, or to make some of them totally unserviceable.
    The Benefit: The forced some fortunate commuters to joyfully stretch their legs by having the delight of standing up for their entire tram journey. It also created a competitive seat culture where commuters were strategically jockeying for the remaining usable seats.
  1. Temperature Control
    Although most trams were fitted with large windows to regulate air flow to assist with commuter comfort, many of these windows were deliberately welded shut.
    The Benefit: The majority of the Melbourne commuters had never experienced the health benefits of a sauna. Here the MMTB gleefully provided this as part of the tram service with no additional ticket surcharge.
  1. Tram Break Down
    Tram Drivers were instructed to randomly turn the power off in their trams and feign an unplanned mechanical failure.
    The Benefit: This provided the commuter with an opportunity to bond and share personal experiences with their fellow travellers whilst they were all crammed into the stationary overheating tram. It was also great advertising for the MMTB as their trams became a readily identifiable symbol of iconic transport that all frustrated and fuming car drivers could continually look at whilst they sat for extended periods of time in the resultant traffic jam.

As you can imagine, the journalist was flabbergasted at the creative ingenuity of the MMTB in their attempt to create a culture of innovation on their Melbourne transport network. But what the journalist didn’t know, was that other cities all around the world adopted the MMTB commuter philosophy and applied the psychological learnings in all their trains, buses, trams, ferries and even some airlines. Was it successful? We will never know, however, the memoirs of that leading 1967 Melbourne University Professor do record that he never used public transport and was an avid car driver.

The Concierge of Greet


The weather was miserable, it was cold, wet and the strong chilly wind was blowing my bright coloured scarf in a flapping flurry around my hairless freezing head. As I pushed open the hotel’s wooden heavy door with some degree of anticipation, I was immediately met with a warm gust of the most pleasurable smelling air that caught me by surprise. I quickly stopped in my tracks and enjoyed this delightful air woft that was relished and absorbed most happily by my frozen face.

Once inside the hotel lobby, my senses were pounced upon by a multitude of the most captivating furniture, décor and sounds of guests highly chuffed to be relaxing in the numerous comfortable leather chairs whilst scoffing a warming beverage or sampling some nibbles. As I walked to the concierge, I was greeted in a sincere, genuine and hearty manner and was offered a hot tea in a simply charming and quite appealing glass.

I hadn’t even checked into the hotel yet, but I felt right at home.

So why is it that when we step inside a corporate reception area for the first time, we typically feel like an unwelcome and hostile intruder? This is particularly the case for those unmanned reception areas where your visitor has to navigate a phone directory and then engage a lonely and rather sterile phone to try and seek the attention of the person they came to visit.

This got me thinking……

The Door to Your Office:
Why not have an impressive and inspiring wooden door (forget those automatic glass ones that open when an ant meanders on to the sensor) that has a large knocker or brass bell located on it that visitors just want to use as it just builds a high degree of anticipation, and of course fun via its application?

The Greet Concierge:
Why not have a corporate concierge who gleefully greets visitors as they arrive in your office foyer? If is it cold and wet, they relieve the visitor of their coat and umbrella and offer them a scented, warm and viscous tea and seat them in a chair with an inbuilt bottom warmer, or if it is cold, they partake of a nice chilled and flavoursome ice drink whilst sitting under a strategically placed air conditioner.

The Waiting Activity:
Many a visitor can get rather bored and fed up waiting in the reception area for longer than required periods of time. This is where the use of a corporate billiard table should be used that is adorned with billiard balls branded with the corporate logo. For those less skilled in the way of sticks and balls, then why not have a corporate dartboard in which they can relieve potential waiting frustration by hurling a pointy dart rather forcefully.

Reading Material:
Forget newspapers and the corporate magazine, why not have a vast array of books, comics and some DIY manuals (eg gardening or home renovations) that provide a level of interest and engagement. Should they not finish their selected reading material prior to the commencement of their business meeting, then why not have a lending library format that allows your visitor to borrow the item?

The Bed of Leisure
Sometimes it’s rather tough waiting for a meeting when your visitor may have travelled some distance to get to your office that could have necessitated the use of an early morning flight or long car journey. So why not have a corporate bed of leisure that they can occupy (by themselves of course) to provide them with that additional level of recuperation prior to their meeting?

I’m sure that you can think of additional thoughts of corporate creativity that can make your valued visitor feel much more welcome and at home when frequenting your corporate abode. So why not incorporate some of these activities into your corporate reception area?

The goal is to provide your corporate office with that competitive advantage that yields your organization with that level of uniqueness that makes your customers, suppliers, employees and investors want to engage with you, why, because your business inspires them!

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