It’s easy to compare the differences between train and air travel.Speed and cost are the obvious ones, which reminds me of the old consultant’s saw: “Quality, Speed or Price, choose any two.”Meaning that you can choose two of those, but the third is likely to suffer.When it comes to long-distance public transportation, most people tend to choose speed, unless they’re going from NW Montana to Salt Lake, Seattle or Portland with a car-sized group of staff members.Making the speed / quality / price choiceRecently I had that choice to make and decided to try Amtrak. My wife and I recently became empty nesters and had wondered about taking the train the next time we went somewhere.Being the family guinea pig, I took Amtrak’s Empire Builder home from Portland after driving with my youngest (in his rig) to drop him off at college.Returning on Amtrak wasn’t just the slow, cheap choice – it was the obvious one: Board at 5:00 pm in Portland, avoid a 12 hour drive after three long days, spend less on train fare than on gas and do all of that without any effort on my part (ie: get on the train and ride home vs. flog my rig all the way home, get tired, get a room and end up using up a decent chunk of two days traveling.I wasn’t too worried about being on time to the minute. I was on a train *because* my schedule was a little flexible. I’d heard a fair share of horror stories about late trains from folks in the Midwest and East, so I wasn’t exactly ready for the seriously-on-time that I experienced.The Amtrak ExperienceWhat I was really interested in was comparing the customer / passenger experience between Amtrak and the last few airline trips I’ve taken.On an airplane, you get “beat up”, annoyed, hot, cramped, belittled and so on. By the time you get in your seat, you’ll often find passengers in a detached, staring-at-nothing, “how many minutes till it ends” state of mind.It’s not that the people are bad, I think a lot of it is the series of annoyances and inconveniences that people are submitted to prior to takeoff.On the train, it’s like another planet. It’s like a big traveling party and a sleepover rolled into one – and the seats are bigger. The big traveling party is in the observation car, where you might see people playing Uno, Scrabble, Texas Hold-Em, or just talking with a crowd of people they just met. The dining car is like a cafe with too few seats, so you sit where the empty chairs are – even if someone’s in mid-meal – and it’s ok.The cattle car isn’t the cattle carIf you didn’t know better, you’d think someone hired the “Evil Captain Kirk” version of Temple Grandin to design the process of getting people from their cars, through ticketing, past security and onto a plane.It’s not the speed, it’s the how and the what.On Amtrak, it’s given that everything (and I mean *everything*) is slower – yet on time, in my limited experience.The experience is far less tense and there is none of the “We just need to get through it, so you’re just gonna take it” that you get when flying. My impression is that you’re far less likely to run into the Evil Kirk.Why?Sure, there are some folks in the airline business who are pleasant, friendly and happy to help. On Amtrak, almost everyone seems that way.Both groups are obviously under pressure to produce. Neither is raking in the profits. Neither has excuses. They just do what they do.The process is what makes the difference between the experience found by your customers vs. your competitors’.Take nothing for granted about your processes.Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com. Email Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.
The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) at theUniversity of Tennessee in Knoxville (UTK) invites applications forthe position of Professor and Department Head. The position is atthe tenured, full Professor level and preferably starts August 1,2021.Located in East Tennessee, close to Oak Ridge NationalLaboratory and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, UTK is aResearch I University and is the flagship campus of the Universityof Tennessee system. EPS is housed in a new state-of-the artbuilding and is comprised of an active group of tenure-track andresearch faculty, lecturers, post-doctoral associates, supportstaff, and over 150 graduate and undergraduate students. Researchinterests within the department span a wide range of geosciencetopics, with particular emphasis and strengths in EnvironmentalEarth Science, Geology, and Planetary Geoscience. TheDepartment’s current 5-year strategic plan can be viewed under the“About EPS” tab on the department website: http://web.eps.utk.edu.The campus is located in one of the most beautiful areas of thecountry with easy access to miles of inland waterways, pristinestate and national parks, diverse cultural opportunities, and ablend of convenient urban and rural living settings. DowntownKnoxville, adjacent to campus, is a thriving neighborhood filledwith restaurants, shops, and indoor and outdoor entertainmentvenues, and is home to the Knoxville Symphony and Knoxville Opera,as well annual festivals like the Big Ears Music Festival, Jazz onthe Square, and Shakespeare on the Square.The requirements for this position are: (i) a Ph.D. in arelevant Earth Science discipline; (ii) a strong service recordwith demonstrated administrative experience and financialmanagement skills; (iii) an established track record of obtainingexternal research funding; (iv) teaching and research experience inany area of Environmental Earth Science, Geology, and/or PlanetaryGeoscience. The successful candidate should be an inspiring,energetic, and well- organized leader who can interact effectivelywith all faculty, staff, and students within the department. Thecandidate should also have excellent interpersonal communicationskills, high ethical standards, and be able to foster a collegialenvironment. They will be expected to build collaborativerelationships with other programs and departments, advocate onbehalf of the department with administrative units throughout theUniversity, and to interact with external organizations. Inaddition, we seek a candidate able to demonstrate their commitmentto equity and inclusion in higher education. We are particularlyinterested in candidates who can increase the participation ofunderrepresented students and/or faculty within the department andwho will contribute to the diversity and intercultural goals of theKnoxville campus.Salary and benefits are competitive and will be commensuratewith experience. Please submit (i) a cover letter, (ii) CurriculumVitae, (iii) vision statement incorporating administration,teaching, research, and diversity approaches, and (iv) contactinformation for three academic references via http://apply.interfolio.com/85122. Only electronic applications will be considered and acceptable fileformats are .pdf or .docx. We will start reviewingapplications by May 1, 2021 until the position is filled. Questionsabout the position should be directed to the Chair of the SearchCommittee, Prof. Hanno H. Weitering ([email protected]).The University of Tennessee is an EEO/AA/Title VI/TitleIX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA institution in the provision of itseducation and employment programs and services. All qualifiedapplicants will receive equal consideration for employment andadmission without regard to race, color, national origin, religion,sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, genderidentity, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information,veteran status, and parental status.