I’ve uttered the phrase “they are focused on the wrong things” so often that I’ve now created an acronym. FOTWT, pronounced Fought-wit. FOTWT happens when bureauocracy takes hold. Before you breath a sigh of relief that you don’t work in a bureaucratic organization, keep reading. Bureaucracies are not just created by intention, some are allowed to evolve through more subtle means, such as through the culture of a company.

Last week, while in Paris, I was able to snag tickets to the Rolling Stones concert. What a thrill! That is until dealing with the Parisian system of public transport. Here’s the lowdown:

1. There was a strike by some transit workers. This is common in France, so I’m told and no one seems upset about it.

2. The Rolling Stones concert, which would bring 70,000 people to a common location and have them leaving said location nearly simultaneously, resulted in no increase in the number of trains going to or from the stadium.

3. Access to the stadium by car, taxi, bus, etc. is very limited due to PPP (pitifully poor planning).

4. The transport folks did not extend the hours for train runs. They metro shuts down at 2 am, period.

5. The police, who were finally visible on the metro platform, encouraged people to cram onto the trains yelling that the trains would stop at 2am. Yes, the police were encouraging a group of people who were growing more desperate by the minute to push and shove one another.

6. The transit system shut down at 2am leaving hundreds of people stranded on the train platform.

The transit system did indeed run the metro to and from the stadium where the concert was held. They did stay open as long as promised. That’s it. Despite the predictable debacle, they made no adjustments. Despite the misery and inconvenience to hundreds of people, they shut down. Faced with hundreds of desperate people, even the police focused exclusively on warning people about the last train. Safety? Nah, not a concern. The police themselves boarded the last train and left the stadium station.

Focused on the wrong things and utterly oblivious.

Anyone who has ever set in motion a series of measures or indicators knows that there are unintended consequences. You can’t avoid it so you pay attention to outcomes and make adjustments. That is if you have a shred of motivation.

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