Chasing Pavements


This morning I presented a client with a first draft of a small piece of work.  My client felt that it did exactly what he needed – all that he wanted to be changed was the delivery mechanism, I’d suggested a process that I’m very comfortable with and have used before.  It’s a little clunky but tried and tested.  He wanted me to do something that would make it easier for his staff .

I was a little annoyed with myself for missing something so obvious.

After finishing work for the day I took my youngest to Ballet class. Rather than sitting and waiting I went for a run around the surrounding sprawling residential development.  I know the area reasonably well and based on having driven around I planned a route that would take me about 5 miles in a loop.

It soon became clear that it was not going to be straightforward.  It was starting to rain and looked ominously like a heavy shower was likely. The roads were busy with commuters returning home in a hurry.  And I kept running out of pavement.

Frequently only one side of the road had a pavement and this flipped from side to side.  This meant I kept having to cross and recross roads.  In places, especially at junctions, there was no obvious route for pedestrians.  At times the pavement forced me, off the road I wanted to follow, into smaller backstreets leaving me to guess the way out.

It reminded me of a time I stayed in a Hotel near Chicago.  I wanted to walk to a diner I could see across the road – but there was no safe route for  pedestrians.  The hotel offered me a free ride in their courtesy shuttle bus and treated me like the eccentric I clearly was for wanting to walk. And as for running routes, well they had treadmills in the gym!

Tonight it felt as if the pavements had not been designed, they had simply been fitted in around the roads and the housing like an afterthought.  They met the needs of motorists and maybe they fulfilled some minimum local authority requirements but they did not meet my needs as a pedestrian.

Like the work for my client earlier in the day the pavement was usable, if a little clunky. I still made it back in good time. It was just not the best solution that took into account the needs of all the stakeholders.

To get the best possible result our first task is to decide who the stakeholders are (I’d not thought about the clients’ staff ) and then secondly try and see the problem from these differing perspectives.  Then we can create a solution that balances these views. It may not be possible to satisfy everyone fully, but compromises can be made in the full light of all the competing priorities.

This approach can work in all aspects of our lives.  By asking who is affected by our actions and considering what their perspective might be we can create better solutions and improve the quality of everything we do.

Had someone asked ‘does the paving work for the developer , the home buyers, motorists, pedestrians etc?’ I might have had a more pleasurable run.

What are you working on that might benefit from seeking an additional perspective?

Should I give up,
Or should I just keep chasin’ pavements?
Even if it leads nowhere
Or would it be a waste
Even if I knew my place
Should I leave it there
Should I give up,
Or should I just keep chasin’ pavements
Even if it leads nowhere





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