archBOSTON.org

Go Back   archBOSTON.org > Boston's Built Environment > Transit and Infrastructure

Transit and Infrastructure All things T or civilly engineered within Boston Metro.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 08-16-2017, 09:55 AM   #4881
bigpicture7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brighton, MA
Posts: 1,155
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
Alan Mulally was a Boeing exec who inoculated Ford against the Great Recession, and then turned it around. It did not take automaking domain expertise, it took stuff like finance, supply chain, labor relations, R&D, and marketing. Industrial company stuff, nothing about up through the ranks in one town, one industry, or one organization.
Sorry, but this example is exactly wrong. Mulally was the consummate engineering manager, and was hired specifically for his expertise managing hugely complex engineering design, development, and manufacturing programs.

The ideology that led to Mulally's hiring is 180-degrees from Baker's idea of how to run the T.

Quote:
"An automobile has about 10,000 parts, right? An airplane has two million. And it has to stay up in the air."
- Alan Mulally
bigpicture7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 10:11 AM   #4882
Arlington
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: West Medford, MA
Posts: 3,200
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

And yes I trust Pollack. 7-day Student & Youth passes overhauled nicely (also for summer months) but below the radar here. 4am service start. GLX-reboot. Barrier-free fare collection on GL. These are great, progressive achievements aimed at the core. And I'd notch both Krafts (Foxboro) and Union Square (U2-paid) as a healthy trend of tapping landowners for more help in service expansion.

And also we know that The Ride is waaay too expensive and it is good that they're looking at a cheaper Uber/Lyft model.
__________________
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 10:15 AM   #4883
Arlington
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: West Medford, MA
Posts: 3,200
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpicture7 View Post
Sorry, but this example is exactly wrong. Mulally was the consummate engineering manager, and was hired specifically for his expertise managing hugely complex engineering design, development, and manufacturing programs.

The ideology that led to Mulally's hiring is 180-degrees from Baker's idea of how to run the T.
Cherry-picked view that does Mulally a disservice. Mulally also borrowed $23b in good times, mortgaging the company. It was dollars, not engineering, that kept Ford from bankruptcy. He also brought back the Taurus brand, ditching the OCD rule that all Fords begin with F (Freestyle, Fusion, ...).

Being CEO is a domain expertise unto itself. The T should have bus and rail managers who've got the domain expertise. It's the CEO's job to balance and enable them.
__________________
"Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants."--Charles Marohn
Arlington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 10:47 AM   #4884
bigpicture7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brighton, MA
Posts: 1,155
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
Cherry-picked view that does Mulally a disservice. Mulally also borrowed $23b in good times, mortgaging the company. It was dollars, not engineering, that kept Ford from bankruptcy. He also brought back the Taurus brand, ditching the OCD rule that all Fords begin with F (Freestyle, Fusion, ...).

Being CEO is a domain expertise unto itself. The T should have bus and rail managers who've got the domain expertise. It's the CEO's job to balance and enable them.
Doing Mulally a disservice is the last of my intentions, given that he's one of my heros.

Mulally is a technical expert who truly GETS finance.

The bar for the MBTA GM position should have been set at: transit expert who truly GETS finance.

We're selling ourselves short of we don't demand both. Sure, the CEO can delegate that stuff - but again, why not have someone who speaks both languages?

Glad to respectfully appreciate our differences of opinions, but this is the statement I philosophically oppose:
Quote:
Being CEO is a domain expertise unto itself.
It's not that being a CEO isn't hard
It's not that all technical experts sufficiently get finance.

It's that the endeavors we pursue are complex enough - and there are enough possible candidates who can be developed in to strategic and financial leaders - to demand both.
bigpicture7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 10:53 AM   #4885
JumboBuc
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Camberville
Posts: 1,393
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

I'm sympathetic to Pollack's view that transportation experience isn't a necessity for the GM. We definitely want people with good transportation experience running the organization, but that doesn't mean the GM him or herself necessarily needs it. To quote today's Globe:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boston Globe
Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack said Ramirez’s lack of transit experience was far from an obstacle to naming him for one of the most visible, pressure-packed jobs in state government.

“In fact, transit expert was not high on our priority list when we launched the search for a new general manager,” Pollack said at an event Tuesday announcing Ramirez’s appointment. “What we wanted was a successful and seasoned executive with a proven track record at leading complex organizations through transformation and change.”

Pollack also pointed out that the MBTA has an experienced public-transit manager in Jeff Gonneville, the agency’s deputy general manager.
I would argue that most of the (bad) decisions that got the T into the position it's in today have had nothing to do with transportation. The T's debt issues (e.g., getting locked into long-term debt obligations at interest rates WAY above prevailing market rates), financial constraints (e.g., grossly under-performing pension fund returns), and labor problems (e.g., overtime policies that are far from best practices) have NOTHING to do with transportation. These are not "how to get the trains and busses running on time" issues, these are "how to effectively run a big business/organization" issues. These are the sorts of things a GM/CEO is responsible for, and if you don't get them right you'll never have the resources and mandate to take care of the transportation issues. You certainly need people at the GM's right hand who know how to run the trains and busses, but the GM's primary responsibility is directing the overall structure of the organization.

We all love to crap on Baker and his contempt for the T on this forum, but I think Pollack/Shortsleeve have done a pretty good job. They've been prudent and competent every step of the way, and have addressed plenty of the longer term non-transportation handicaps that have held the T back. Have they been perfect? No. But if we continue along the path they've laid out I'll take it.

That being said, Ramirez seems like a somewhat strange choice... He's being presented as an "MBA / turnaround expert" but he doesn't have an MBA and isn't a turnaround expert. He spent 12 years as a company man at GE, took over a struggling Texas energy supplier before resigning/being forced out during an accounting scandal (for which he is currently a defendant in an active lawsuit), and has been a self-employed "consultant" (whatever that means...) in the 2+ years since. The fact that this is his first real gig since he left the energy company debacle in spring of 2015 makes me more than a little nervous.
JumboBuc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 10:56 AM   #4886
bigpicture7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brighton, MA
Posts: 1,155
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

I'm sorry his business school degree is a "certificate" from Duke's Fuqua School of Management.

And he brands his consultancy as such:
Quote:
Typical clients: CEOs, PE firms that need expertise at the CEO level to accomplish accelerated change, surgical strikes change management.

[Luis Ramirez Linkedin]
bigpicture7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 10:59 AM   #4887
JumboBuc
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Camberville
Posts: 1,393
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpicture7 View Post
^ he does have an MBA and does brand himself as a turn-around specialist:

[Luis Ramirez Linkedin]
That's not an MBA. It's a "Certificate of Completion, Executive Management Training". That's what you get when you complete a course, not a degree.

And anyone can brand themselves as a "turn-around specialist". He left the only organization he's ever led abruptly in the middle of a scandal. The firm's chairman calls his time in charge "a challenging time".
JumboBuc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 10:59 AM   #4888
bigpicture7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brighton, MA
Posts: 1,155
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

^ Correction made

Guys, I'll bow out of this argument as I'm sure you're all tired of hearing from me. I guess there are only a few of us with the view that domain expertise and financial competence need not be an either/or.
bigpicture7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 11:39 AM   #4889
JeffDowntown
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: South Cove
Posts: 2,397
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
Alan Mulally was a Boeing exec who inoculated Ford against the Great Recession, and then turned it around. It did not take automaking domain expertise, it took stuff like finance, supply chain, labor relations, R&D, and marketing. Industrial company stuff, nothing about up through the ranks in one town, one industry, or one organization.
Both Boeing and Ford were for-profit public corporations.

We keep falling into the trap that good business executives make good public sector agency directors. Both they are not the same animals. All of his gut instincts will be wrong.

Some experience managing a complex, cross-jurisdictional public agency would really be helpful here, even if not in transit. That would be having parallel skills.
__________________
Jeff H.
Downtown, South Cove
JeffDowntown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 12:15 PM   #4890
cybah
Senior Member
 
cybah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 223
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
And yes I trust Pollack.
I don't. Not anymore... she burned her bridges with me too many times

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlington View Post
And also we know that The Ride is waaay too expensive and it is good that they're looking at a cheaper Uber/Lyft model.
Since I worked for the RIDE contractor, I can tell you this is a long way off. And doesn't work for people with mobility issues. Uber/Lyft would be a curb to curb service offered to people as an alternative to regular RIDE service if they have no physical impairments. Its design is to meant to be used an alternative during busy times when there aren't enough RIDE vehicles available. OR a driver is late and car sharing is used as an alternative.

I should also state that Uber and Lyft are not quite there yet in terms of API. The whole process would be very manual at scheduling the rides (vs the current Adept system which is automatic at doing this). It's just means at the end of the month someone has to get a report and manually deduct the rides from their account. This is one of the sticking points (as currently its done the minute the rider is picked up....)

there's alot more.. and alot more to say but the RIDE is a long way off for this to happen.

I can tell you its already being done at the NY MTA.. (they are GCS's other paratransit client) so we talked with them first.
cybah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 12:27 PM   #4891
stevebikes
Junior Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 19
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Guy whose new bosses claim they chose him as a turnaround expert doesn't think he was hired as a turnaround expert:

Quote:
At his introduction Tuesday, Ramirez bristled at the notion that he was hired as a turnaround executive, saying the MBTA is already on the path to improvement.

“When I hear the phrase turnaround, it means something is going in the wrong direction or a direction contrary to where an organization needs to go,” he said. “My job is to build upon the solid foundation . . . and help create a long-term road map and plan to fully transform the T into what it needs to be: a world-class transportation system serving the people of a world-class city and Commonwealth.”
stevebikes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 01:43 PM   #4892
bakgwailo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Posts: 494
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevebikes View Post
Guy whose new bosses claim they chose him as a turnaround expert doesn't think he was hired as a turnaround expert:
Well, he got two "world class" mentions in there so maybe he does know Boston after all.
bakgwailo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-16-2017, 11:39 PM   #4893
curcuas
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 204
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by JumboBuc View Post
I'm sympathetic to Pollack's view that transportation experience isn't a necessity for the GM. We definitely want people with good transportation experience running the organization, but that doesn't mean the GM him or herself necessarily needs it. To quote today's Globe:



I would argue that most of the (bad) decisions that got the T into the position it's in today have had nothing to do with transportation. The T's debt issues (e.g., getting locked into long-term debt obligations at interest rates WAY above prevailing market rates), financial constraints (e.g., grossly under-performing pension fund returns), and labor problems (e.g., overtime policies that are far from best practices) have NOTHING to do with transportation. These are not "how to get the trains and busses running on time" issues, these are "how to effectively run a big business/organization" issues. These are the sorts of things a GM/CEO is responsible for, and if you don't get them right you'll never have the resources and mandate to take care of the transportation issues. You certainly need people at the GM's right hand who know how to run the trains and busses, but the GM's primary responsibility is directing the overall structure of the organization.

We all love to crap on Baker and his contempt for the T on this forum, but I think Pollack/Shortsleeve have done a pretty good job. They've been prudent and competent every step of the way, and have addressed plenty of the longer term non-transportation handicaps that have held the T back. Have they been perfect? No. But if we continue along the path they've laid out I'll take it.

That being said, Ramirez seems like a somewhat strange choice... He's being presented as an "MBA / turnaround expert" but he doesn't have an MBA and isn't a turnaround expert. He spent 12 years as a company man at GE, took over a struggling Texas energy supplier before resigning/being forced out during an accounting scandal (for which he is currently a defendant in an active lawsuit), and has been a self-employed "consultant" (whatever that means...) in the 2+ years since. The fact that this is his first real gig since he left the energy company debacle in spring of 2015 makes me more than a little nervous.
This seems exactly right on all accounts
curcuas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2017, 07:27 AM   #4894
JeffDowntown
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: South Cove
Posts: 2,397
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Just a reminder folks, a lot of the T's debt issues are political in nature, not just bad financial management. (Like the Big Dig debt thrown onto the T.)

The T GM job is way more political than any corporate CEO job. I think that is going to create a challenge for the new GM.
__________________
Jeff H.
Downtown, South Cove
JeffDowntown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2017, 07:42 AM   #4895
bigpicture7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brighton, MA
Posts: 1,155
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDowntown View Post
Just a reminder folks, a lot of the T's debt issues are political in nature, not just bad financial management. (Like the Big Dig debt thrown onto the T.)

The T GM job is way more political than any corporate CEO job. I think that is going to create a challenge for the new GM.
You mean the T's GM needs to be a transit advocate, and not just a capable finance person. If so, Jeff we are apparently in the minority on this forum.

The topmost leader in an organization provides vision - and stands up for that vision in the face of stakeholder (or in this case political) pushback.
bigpicture7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2017, 09:51 AM   #4896
datadyne007
Senior Member
 
datadyne007's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Chelsea, MA
Posts: 8,140
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpicture7 View Post
You mean the T's GM needs to be a transit advocate, and not just a capable finance person. If so, Jeff we are apparently in the minority on this forum.

The topmost leader in an organization provides vision - and stands up for that vision in the face of stakeholder (or in this case political) pushback.
You're not as in the minority as you may think.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeamusMcFly View Post
If it looks like a duck..... it's an office park.
datadyne007 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2017, 09:58 AM   #4897
JeffDowntown
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: South Cove
Posts: 2,397
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpicture7 View Post
You mean the T's GM needs to be a transit advocate, and not just a capable finance person. If so, Jeff we are apparently in the minority on this forum.

The topmost leader in an organization provides vision - and stands up for that vision in the face of stakeholder (or in this case political) pushback.
Actually I was more correctly saying that the T GM needs to be able to navigate the political complexities of a multi-jurisdictional agency that is dependent on its funding (to solve financial issues) on the whims of the legislature, aka politics.

All the sound fiscal management judgement won't help when legislators throw him a serious curve ball, and he doesn't know how to build political will to fight back.
__________________
Jeff H.
Downtown, South Cove
JeffDowntown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2017, 10:13 AM   #4898
bigpicture7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Brighton, MA
Posts: 1,155
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Ok I am the only one who thinks the T's GM ought to be a transit visionary. I give up for real this time.
bigpicture7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2017, 10:16 AM   #4899
Balerion
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 117
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpicture7 View Post
Ok I am the only one who thinks the T's GM ought to be a transit visionary. I give up for real this time.
I agree with you. All the management skill, transit expertise, and political skills in the world aren't as useful as they could be if there isn't a clear goal to which they can be applied.

I think the MBTA could really use a clear and far-ranging long-term vision. It won't be easy to achieve and it will take forever, but it's a measuring stick and something that they should be working towards with every little, local project they do.
Balerion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-17-2017, 11:42 AM   #4900
JeffDowntown
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: South Cove
Posts: 2,397
Re: General MBTA Discussion Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Balerion View Post
I agree with you. All the management skill, transit expertise, and political skills in the world aren't as useful as they could be if there isn't a clear goal to which they can be applied.

I think the MBTA could really use a clear and far-ranging long-term vision. It won't be easy to achieve and it will take forever, but it's a measuring stick and something that they should be working towards with every little, local project they do.
I think this goes beyond the MBTA to encompass the MassDOT. Since we don't have a regional government around Boston, it falls on the MassDOT to set a transportation vision for the region, including the accommodation of growth without choking the city and the region in private automobiles. Basically setting up the transportation priorities for the region. I also believe that the MBTA needs a big seat at that table, but the priorities need to be multi-modal. (The MBTA transit vision needs to have context.)
__________________
Jeff H.
Downtown, South Cove
JeffDowntown is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
A discussion regarding Chinatown commuter guy Boston Architecture & Urbanism 31 05-07-2016 06:30 AM
MBTA thread(s) cleanup Arlington Board Issues and Announcements 2 03-12-2015 06:46 PM
General RER-type service thread BostonUrbEx Transit and Infrastructure 26 11-22-2014 02:16 PM
General Real Estate/Rental Discussion BostonUrbEx Boston Architecture & Urbanism 5 04-16-2012 02:46 PM
aB Awards General Discussion statler 2008 Awards Nominations & Discussion 10 02-18-2009 06:40 AM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:50 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.3
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.