For Success, Begin at the End

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A larger Midwestern city is about to make a very costly mistake. What does this mean for you? Three applications of their expensive lesson for your life are in this post. Read on.

Kansas City has decided to privatize its award-winning international airport, launching a massive redesign. Most are not happy and it’s not the normal resistance to change.  airplane

That’s because the city wants to adopt the model of other airports that already create nightmares for passengers. The long distances between arrivals and departures, moving walkways, increasing handicapped shuttles, and other expensive accommodations are not necessary in the terminal system design already in use. In this case, change is not progress.

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Current Airport

Both worldwide and national travelers have commented on how easy the airport is to use. Three to five airlines that share the most common interchanges are housed into three circular terminals. This divides the massive traffic into more manageable arrivals and departures for flyers. Unless changing to other airlines assigned to another terminal, which is not frequent, everything the traveler needs is in one smaller terminal.

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Proposed Airport

The original design won awards and neighborhood organizations gave feedback to the planning department during its development. At that time a planning process called PERT was in vogue. PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) began at the ending: what did you want to end  up with? Working backward in steps from the result allowed a clear, straightforward path for planning and smooth execution. The linear charts filled a large room, lining the walls from top to bottom and showing how each step contributed seamlessly to the desired end. Every group involved in the project was on the same page.

In my own life I’ve benefited from the wisdom of this approach. Here are three examples that I hope will help you too in 2018. When considering spending your resources, look for what you want and work backwards from there.

Foundations and Windowsfacade-3112189__340

Window replacements are popular with homeowners of the 75% of residences older than 10 years. And window replacement companies seem to multiply every year, each claiming to be the best investment in quality for price.

It’s only the “sadder but wiser” homeowners who found out the hard way that foundation inspections should be the first step before purchasing windows. That’s because a foundation that settles or shifts will wreck any window operation, no matter how well-made or expensive.

Shifts will create windows that will not close properly or will stick. So before sinking thousands of dollars into new windows, it’s worth an inspection of the foundation, even if you have to pay for it.

Choosing  a Product or Servicewashing-machine-1994661__340

When trying to decide on what brand of appliance or automobile to buy, a wise person once advised me to talk to the repair shops first. They see the other end of your purchase. They know which cars have fewer problems or which brand of dishwasher breaks more frequently or easily.

Of course there are warranties, but they end or add costs. A protection plan is really a way of saying manufacturers don’t know if what they are making will work. Consumer Reports gives some good information, but more specific details are easily available from your local repair experts. The Maytag commercials boast this approach: their repair people have nothing to do.

This approach works with any purchase you are considering. Reviews on the web are helping, but can be slanted. Even services like Angie’s List or Home Advisors can result in only the most expensive professionals being listed.  Yelp is not always current or correct. One driveway repairman told me he didn’t care about his Better Business Bureau rating. Talk with someone in a position to see the other side of a service or product.

Selecting a College stock-photo-college-campus-in-the-spring-131270519

Few prospective students or their parents know about two critical questions to ask when choosing a college. What is the retention rate? Who hires the graduates?

Parents want students to go to college whether or not the student is ready to invest the time or energy it takes to do the work. Students may believe it’s more glamorous to go away to school or are making choices based on their friends.

The explosion in for-profit or proprietary colleges, especially online ones, means that students often pay triple the normal tuition of traditional schools. These schools are too often focused on the bottom line and may focus retention efforts on keeping cash flow, not student success. Students who decide to enroll  based on 30-second commercials find out too late. More of these schools are coming under investigation, since they basically earn profit from financial aid that comes from taxes.

The retention rate is important because it tells how important entering students are to the college. It is not uncommon for 45% of those entering their first year not to complete. This is too expensive a party.

A college that does not address this alarming statistic is focused more on getting the students in than graduating them. $6-$10,000 a year is too expensive for career research. Students and parents have to repay the loan whether or not any credits were earned. Knowing the retention rate can prevent large regrettable student loans.

Likewise knowing who hires the graduates tells how respected the school’s degrees are. Every school has areas of emphasis that they are known for. The University of Missouri at Columbia is a premier journalism school. Northwestern University in Chicago is known for communications. It does not make sense to pay for a degree in a field another school is better known for or which may cost less.

Accreditation is also a critical factor in retention and graduation. Unfortunately students may pay for coursework which will not transfer, because the schools are not members of one of the seven regional accreditation bodies of the Commission on Higher Education. (https://www.che.sc.gov/)

The cliche’ is “look before you leap”. Sadly the city is not. It had just remodeled the airport’s terminals a few years ago at considerable expense. Businesses have made the same mistakes. Before choosing a path, know what the scene is like at the end.

 

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