My Writing: Being Highly Effective (July 23 – 30)

Webtech WirelessThis week’s writing includes my first contribution to Webtech Wireless’ weekly email campaign. Previous to this, I would copy edit but this time I own it. It goes out to about 16,000 recipients. Every week, we gain a few and lose a few.

 

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fleets to honour the passing of Stephen Covey and be true to the intent of the Webtech Wireless blog, I revised his The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People through the eyes of the fleet management solutions Webtech Wireless offers.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fleets

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Fleets

Sad news last week with the passing of author Stephen Covey. Around the world, people in decision-making positions have taken cues from his writings and seminars to increase their productivity, happiness, and of course, success of their companies. To honor Mr. Covey, and be true to the intent of this blog (keep our finger on the pulse of AVL/GPS technologies for fleet management), we’d like to revisit his The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People through the eyes of well-deployed fleet management solutions.

1. Be Proactive—Take risks and accept new challenges to achieve goals.

Steve Troyer of Troyer Ventures, an oil and gas service provider, recognized early on the need for a comprehensive solution to solve the paper jam—from dispatch to journey management. Even while many companies remained reluctant to adapt and change, Steve had a vision to lead in technology integration and set a standard for the industry.

“Our ability to provide efficient services allows us to continue to grow the industry in our community, and that means more jobs. When the company is strong we can grow. That just makes sense” —Steve Troyer, Owner, Troyer Ventures

2. Begin with the End in Mind—Bring projects to completion and unite teams and organizations under a shared vision, mission, and purpose.

Thousands of customers benefit from our solutions. In each case, a customer starts with a specific goal in mind—reducing fuel economy, improving vehicles and driver performance, or mitigating risks—each implementation has specific organizational or business goals that our customers want to achieve.

“By installing these systems, we will both prolong the life of City infrastructure and keep more money in the pockets of Ottawa taxpayers.”
—Mayor Larry O’Brien, City of Ottawa

3. Put First Things First—Getting the most important things done first encourages direct effectiveness

Each telematics deployment comes with unique challenges. Our proven pilot process has demonstrated time and again that getting all the pieces of the puzzle in place before a major roll out is the first step in getting to the end goal of solving your challenges with an automated GPS/AVL solution.

“The training was very comprehensive and the Webtech team has really put together a program for all levels of a corporate structure. I definitely would recommend the Webtech training program.”
—Tim Margetts (M. Ed), Director of Safety Canadian Freightways

4. Think Win/Win—Seeking mutual benefit increases group momentum

Reducing salt usage is good for the environment and fits well with municipal, provincial, and state cost saving efforts. The City of Ottawa implemented the Webtech Wireless winter operations solution for government fleets. By gaining the ability to identify excess salt usage by its contractors, the City reduced its salt costs by 20%.

“We cannot keep trading short-term cost for long-term cost.”
—City of Ottawa

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood—Listening first helps you understand problems, resulting in targeted solutions.

In order to be fair to all drivers, management at Tennessee-based Dement Construction mounted a large TV screen in the office. Running our Quadrant Manager and refreshed once a minute, vehicles show up in real-time on the monitor in a highly public space.

“Trucks get there and back a lot faster. Everyone knows that they are visible on the map and every person is equally accountable for where they are.”
—Drew Newmon, Office Manager, Dement Construction

6. Synergize—Leverage the diversity of individuals to increase levels of success.

Webtech Wireless has the most experienced people in the telematics business. We started in 1999 and are pioneers in developing, deploying, and supporting telematics technology. Every time we work with an existing or new customer, we seek ways to collaborate with your teams to create a solution that will work for you in your environment with your vehicles and drivers.

“Webtech Wireless brings a sense of partnership and flexibility to handling multiple challenges.”
—Steve Gaston, Information Services Manager, Sierra Pacific Industries

7. Sharpen the Saw—Implement continuous improvements and safeguards against “burnout” and subsequent non-productivity.

For Sierra Pacific Industries, information services manager, Steve Gaston estimates that their drivers were wasting twenty minutes of overtime a day filling out paperwork. With a Webtech Wireless solution, they saved $300,000 per year (based on 225 drivers working 200 days per year) in overtime. Individually for the drivers, there was an unseen benefit to the changes too:

“Our drivers get to go home [earlier] and see their spouses and kids.” –Steve Gaston

Mr. Covey was injured in a bicycle accident in April of this year, and last week succumbed to his injuries. He will be missed, yet his legacy lives on.

In memoriam, Stephen Covey, 1932 – 2012

My Writing: What’s the most common grammar error? – (July 9 – 23)

It’s been a couple of weeks without an update, but the writing goes on (along with lots of copy editing of others’ works not mentioned here). This gives me an excuse to use a unit of measure almost unknown in North American English: the fortnight, British English for two weeks (fourteen days).

I recently heard that English doesn’t suffer from a lack of a clear second person plural, but in fact from a lack of second person singular. The classic greasy-diner waitress who asks, “Okay, what do yous guys want?” is not inventing a second person plural to distinguish from its identical singular form, but is in fact doubling an already second person plural form. “You” is plural; the singular form is “thou”. So, next time you’re dining alone, an informed waitress could ask you, “What dost thou want?” Or, maybe not.

Below are my corporate blog post for the last two weeks:

What Do Lawyers Cost? is overview of what you need to know before you decide to hire a lawyer to represent your claim. You want one who acts solely in your best interests, advises you to protect your rights, positions your claim to obtain a fair settlement from your perspective, and decides what compensation you deserve for your case.

 

Disabled, “Yes”; Unemployable, “No” describes the Government of Canada’s 2012 Economic Action Plan. By investing an additional $30 million over three years into the Opportunities Fund,  more Canadians with disabilities have the opportunity to become gainfully employed.

 

ICBC and Drunk Drivingdescribes ICBC’s aims in preventing drunk driving, which includes convincing drivers (demographically young men) that making excuses and rationales for why it’s “okay” to have a few before getting behind the wheel is part of the problem of drunk driving itself.

My Writing: Getting published and corporate blogging (July 1 to 8)

There must be some form of critical mass that, when reached in corporate writing at any rate, causes others to start publishing your work even without you knowing it (not that I mind). On opening the June issue of BC Tech Magazine (page 60), what confronted me was, well, myself. I could also see that a new and unseen hand had left his or her mark on my work, particularly around stylistic sensibilities such as changing our corporate branding (I would never do that). On the use of verbs, though, it still carries my thumb print. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to using verbs for maximum punch, and to that end have classed some as ‘weak’ or ‘vague’ while others as ‘strong’ or ‘descriptive’. I was pleased to see them unmolested by the phantom new editor.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery, they say. That was the case for me this week as I discovered my article based on an interview with Troyer Ventures for a Webtech Wireless award application has appeared (in print) in the BC Tech magazine. How did I not know that?

 

Distracted Driving: Legislate or Implement? reveals the connection between the recent settlement by Coca-Cola to a Texas woman injured when struck by a Coca-Cola truck driver who was on the phone while driving. I created a new image for this because we agreed that, on a scale of one to ten for suitability, my “Telematics: It’s the Real-Time Thing” probably rated a nine.

 

Is Your Favourite Summer Sport Covered? advises you to, before undertaking a dangerous summer sport, consider whether or not your extended coverage includes extreme sports.

 

Summer Driving Tips describes some tips provided by ICBC to help keep the roads safer this summer for both drivers and cyclists. It’s a good news story.

 

Distracted Driving: Legislate or Implement?

Distracted drivers cost Coca-cola dearly

Faulted for its inadequate cell phone driving policy, Coca-Cola has been held responsible to the tune of $21 million by a Texas jury. Coca-Cola’s driving troubles began in 2010 when a 37-year-old woman was badly injured in Corpis Christi by a Coca-Cola driver who was using a cell phone at the time of the accident. Injury attorney, Thomas J. Henry, commented, “From the time I took the Coca-Cola driver’s testimony and obtained the company’s inadequate cell phone driving policy, I knew we had a corporate giant with a huge safety problem on [its] hands”. The news doesn’t say whether the call was personal or work related, and presumably from the standpoint of litigation, that’s irrelevant.

“We have accepted responsibility for the accident. We understand that this verdict is a response to a plea from plaintiff’s counsel to the jury to ban all cell phone use while driving.”
—Statement released by Coca-Cola after the verdict

Coca-Cola has two big problems: lost revenue and a damaged public reputation—its bright red trucks are as ubiquitous on the streets as the famous beverage is at meals. The broader implications mean that corporations will be racing to shore up liability risks by drafting tougher policies on company cell phone use. As it is, governments too are under pressure to legislate against driver cell phone and texting.

But where does this leave fleet managers who need real-time communication with their drivers during the working day? There are an estimated 1.2 million trucking companies in the U.S.—the majority of companies with 20 or fewer trucks. In Canada, over 227,000 Canadian truck drivers make trucking one of the top occupations in that country. With so many trucking companies and drivers, how can any kind of safety policy really be effective? A substantive shift is needed in which cell phones no longer play any part in fleet communications.

To enhance corporate no-cell-phone policies and government regulations, a fleet manager stands the best chance of maintaining a good safety record—and staying out of court—with an in-cab solution such as our Quadrant mobile data terminal (MDT).   The MDT includes a touch screen display with a smart on-screen keypad for easy navigation, and the added benefit of restricting usage while the vehicle is in motion.

While preventing distracted driving is more important to service fleets, this solution—also known as EOBR (electronic onboard recorder)—is perfect for long-haul operators as it supports regulatory compliance requirements such as HOS (Hours of Serve). With a Quadrant EOBR solution, you get a handle on fatigued driving as well as distracted driving.

Such dedicated solutions also transmit a wealth of data—from driving behavior to CO2 emissions and to job completion. These data can be used strategically by company decision makers to improve company-wide operations. While vehicle data gathered electronically has been admitted in court to dispute false liability claims after the fact, the most important reason to considering a telematics solution is to ensure driver and public safety by preventing unnecessary and costly accidents in the first place.

A Week of Writing, June 24 to 30

There have been some interestingly overlapping stories this week, which made me wonder which client I’m writing for. Take for example, the news of disability claims denied causing a near 30% increase in complaints to the Ontario Ombudsman’s Office. Along with that, the story mentioned a man suing the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for contamination to his water supply due to excess road salt usage. Wait a second. That’s a good story for my Webtech Wireless/InterFleet client. This must be what multi-tasking looks like.

Below are my blog posts for this week:

Ontario Ombudsman Sees 30% Increase In Complaints describes the increase of complaints including denied disability claims. With Ombudsman, André Marin and his staff beseiged, getting resolution may prove more difficult than usual.

 

Know Your Insurance Policy describes an interview with Adam Etchart, insurance policy agent at Talbot Insurance Services on the Sunshine Coast. He described the various horrific and unnecessary scenarios people can create for themselves by not understanding what auto insurance they’re buying, or worse, misrepresenting their needs when buying it.

 

Leaner, Greener Operations Saves Costs for Fleets is a collection of snapshots of how different companies are saving both the environment around them and fuel wastage using AVL and telematics solutions for their trucking fleets. It doesn’t green wash trucking; it just states some greener practices that are emerging.

Leaner, Greener Operations Saves Costs for Fleets

It may be a while before our roads witness emission-free trucking fleets running on solar and battery power. In the meantime, fleet managers are discovering that if they take steps to green their fleet by implementing telematics and automated vehicle location (AVL) solutions, they’ll not only reduce carbon emissions, but they’ll also save a lot of money.

Here are some snapshots of how different companies are saving both the environment around them and fuel wastage:

The City of Columbia, Missouri is reducing operating costs by letting fleet managers monitor idling, speeding, harsh braking, sharp acceleration and engine over-revving. This helps their drivers develop long-term best practices to decrease fuel consumption significantly and thereby reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

“Our director instructed us not to let the drivers sit in trucks with air conditioners running. Now we know our trucks are not running up and down the road as much. Drivers are where they are supposed to be and working where they are supposed to be—at all times—so it makes it a lot easier for us to track.”

— Sam Thomas, City of Columbia Street Superintendent

Cascade Sierra Solutions is committed to helping trucking companies green their fleets and one way their doing it is by helping them navigate their way through applying for grants and loans to purchase energy-efficient newer trucks. Newer vehicles are more efficient and those savings mean they can expect a quick return on their investment

Loans are available, and a number of public agencies, such as the Port of Tacoma and agencies in California, provide grants to help truckers upgrade. Cascade Sierra Solutions. “We help them with all the paperwork,” Banks said, “and it can be a lot of paperwork the average guy doesn’t have the skill set to fill out.”

“Truckers doing their part for the environment with the help of Cascade Sierra Solutions!”

—Cascade Sierra Solutions website

Cascade Sierra installs Webtech Wireless GPS units in each vehicle, connected directly to the truck’s engine management system. The Webtech Wireless units report truck location, speed, fuel consumption, and much more over the AT&T Mobile Network. These reports give Cascade Sierra the data needed to ensure funders, truck owners, and pollution control agencies trucks are being used as required, and goals are being met.

Webtech Wireless’ NextBus division, is also providing clear incentives for people to take more sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation options. Cities throughout North America are luring people out of their cars and onto public transportation by implementing the Nextbus solution to let riders know in real-time when the next transit vehicle will arrive.

For example, NextBus technology was deployed on 60 buses in the Canadian Maritime city of Saint John, New Brunswick. Because riders know when the bus is arriving, they spend less time waiting and therefore there’s more incentive to leave their CO2 emitting vehicles at home. The environmental value of a NextBus implementation, when coupled with a transit authority’s switch to bio and electric vehicles is profound for each city that implements it.

“The Government of Canada is proud to invest in modern technologies that are both efficient and environmentally responsible.”

—Member of Parliament for Saint John, Rodney Weston.

A Week of Writing – June 18 – 23

This week, my work has chiefly been in the area of copy editing content for our corporate brochures at Webtech Wireless. I finally discovered why so much of our writing comes off sounding like marketing bumbf, instead of the targetted technical content that it’s intended to be.

Curiously, I found the answer in our case studies, which read beautifully because they’re written in a narrative style (i.e., they tell a story). The simple answer is to employ a narrative style throughout and to chain sentences in a way that tells a good story. Something to think about.

Here’s my corporate blog writing for the week:

Disability and the Law describes how by contrast, your life may seem less complicated than the above three strange and horrifying tales from Quebec of murder, extradition, and disabilities. It’s written to those who’ve had their disability claim denied and are looking for qualified legal representation.

 

What are Injured Homemakers Worth in ICBC’s Eyes? describes ICBC regulations that apply to mothers and homemakers who are injured in MVAs (motor vehicle accidents).

 

A Week of Writing, June 11 – 18

This week has been much more about meeting people than being the scribe in the corner. I’ve got a fistfull of business cards after visiting the EMSCC (emergency services) convention and trade show at the Westin Bayshore. Then,  in the evening, I was wined and dined at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre as a guest (on behalf of Webtech Wireless) to the annual British Columbia Technology Association Industry impact awards (TIAs). In part to me interviewing our client, Troyer Ventures, and writing the award application, we were nominated and last night, we won! The following day was a mad montage of assembling all the copy including a news release, new Home page, and new blog post (listed below):

BCTIA-Award-Webtech-WirelessI wrote the content for the new Webtech Wireless Home page and photographed and photoshopped an image of our award. It, being glass, was quite a challenge, but eventually I prevailed.

 

Webtech Wireless WinnersI also slammed together a rather festive blog post describing the event for the Webtech Wireless blog. Our winners were holding their glass awards toward themselves, so I had to flip the image (and therefore some buttons on jackets) for the best effect.

http://webtechwireless.com/

Award Winning Solutions Win the Day…and the Night!

And the award goes to…

2012TIAs-WebtechWireless

Scott Edmonds (centre) shares the stage with Steve Troyer (podium) and Chris Maddocks (right)

On June 14, 2012, Webtech Wireless celebrated its win of the Adoption of Technology award at the 2012 Technology Impact Awards (TIAs). The British Columbia Technology Industry Association (BCTIA) hosted the awards night held at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. BCTIA President and CEO, Bill Tam said, “The Adoption of Technology award recognizes a company whose technology has proven to make a positive difference for customers”.

By definition, this award is collaborative and we were thrilled to share the stage with our client, Troyer Ventures, and technology partner, TMW Systems. Webtech Wireless President and CEO, Scott Edmonds, Troyer Ventures’ owner, Steve Troyer, and TMW Director of Development, Chris Maddocks jointly accepted the award. We were chosen over many applicants by a panel of eight judges representing technology, innovation, and business for our Quadrant implementation to Troyer Ventures, a service provider based in northeastern British Columbia, and in partnership with TMW Systems.

Other 2012 Technology Impact Award Winners

Company of the Year Avigilon
Person of the Year Ryan Holmes, HootSuite
Community Engagement ParetoLogic
Emerging Company of the Year Tasktop Technologies
Excellence in Product Innovation Recon Instruments
Most Promising Pre-Commercial Technology Lungpacer Medical Inc.
Most Promising Start-up Kashoo
Team of the Year CounterPath

2012TIAs-WebtechWireless-celebrates

Joined by hundreds of British Columbia’s technology glitterati, this was a gala night to recognize and celebrate outstanding British Columbia companies in our sector.

Read more about our Troyer implementation…