School Bus Management: The socialization of a process, service or product by multiple leaders over a period of time with no one taking responsibility and everyone looking to someone else for direction and justifying actions as best practices.
The year is 1920 and rural folk across America need to get the their children to school. The locals take ownership of the problem. Everyone has a horse ergo everyone will contribute because everyone has a stake in everyone’s well-being. Problem solved, until……….One day a manager shows up. He decides the locals are not competent in managing their own affairs. The manager convinces the school board to buy vehicles. The words, “School Bus” are added. While the students may be literate, he feels the rural blue-collar students taking shop class are incapable of distinguishing tractor from school bus.In 1939 the manager forms a special committee and someone has a bright idea. Paint the bus orange so everyone can see it. This will stop children from being killed in traffic accidents.A child is killed. In 1948 the committee has another bright idea because the last one was not bright enough. The buses are painted yellow.A child is killed. In 1953 a committee member decides the bright orange idea and bright yellow idea was not bright enough. The committee chairman says, “we need more bright ideas”. Two bright yellow lights are added to the front of the bus.A child is killed. A yellow stripe is added to the bumper and red lights are added to the yellow lights because if 2 is good, 4 is better. Best practices is born. A child is killed. The manager realizes he is not covering his backside when he discovers the bus has a backside too. The committee agrees to the managers request for more lights with one caveat,” If you signal people to stop, you must also tell people to stop”. The manager agrees and declares, “I will make sure to tell people to stop” and adds the words, “Stop when red lights flash”.The manager realizes he forgot a side when covering his backside. The committee is concerned about the managers lack of initiative and tells the manager, “Add a signal to the stop sign that will indicate stop”. A most insightful committee member takes the manager aside one day and tells him what the committee really wants, “Add more lights”.A child is killed. The committee thanks the manager for all the hard work he is doing. In his performance review the words “ failed to demonstrate” are written on the bottom of the page. The manager is fired and a new manager is hired who promptly adds another sign to the sign saying “State Law”. The manager is rewarded with a sign of his own from the committee for his new desk, “The buck Stops Here”. Taxes go up. A child is killed. Having run out room on the bus for signs and bright ideas, the new manager comes to the fateful realization there is no warning sign warning people about the bus covered with warning signs. The manager convinces the state government to install new road warning signs telling people to get ready to stop at the stop place.A child is killed. The committee presents a report by industry indicating the majority of all accidents are caused by the school buses running over the students, not other cars. Industry steps in and agrees to sell special mirrors.Right on the heels of the mirror scandal, the mirror industry, providing valuable council to the council, informs the committee 2 mirrors are not good enough, best practices is 6. Feeling his power soon to be usurped, the manger has the buses pulled from service and a black and white stripe added to the yellow stripe. Parents drive children to school for 3 months. Taxes go up. School boards blame the teachers.The mirror industry is making record profits. Bigger and better mirrors are sold. The product line is extended to include a yellow and black checkered stripe for the bumpers. The new manager, running a business on the side making the white and black checkered stripe, files for copy right infringement and loses.Mirror sales pay for new R+D departments giving birth to the PA system. Millions are sold under the sales pitch, “Just because they can see you, does not mean they can hear you!” Human resources, merchants of bureaucracy, moves into the 21 century providing strategic planning services. The phrase “business partner” is born and courses to teach drivers how to speak into the mic so “people will see you” are developed. The committee loves the idea and orders roll in for training courses and PA systems. At a nearby PTA meeting, community members question why school taxes are going up. The teachers are blamed.Back at the mirror factory, a new product is added, the all-in-one turn signal/indicator arrow. The committee is amazed at the new technology and orders are immediately placed. The committee chairman declares, “No bus will be in service until they have been updated with the latest technology”. Business partners leverage best practices holding managers hostage to the latest advances in learning to reduce costs and teach drivers how to operate the new turn signal. Buses are removed from service. Parents drive children to school for 3 months. Human resources officially becomes a cost center. Taxes go up.The mirror industry, having run out of room, manufacture product space with a bright idea, expand the accessory package for the “BIG KAHUNA” mirror. An additional 8 lights are added. Business partners show up, taxes go up. A child is killed.Mirror sales are projected to expand 15% into the unforeseeable future. Reflective tape sales soar. Taxes go up.HR finds a study showing buses are unsafe due to poor visibility. The mirror industry is pleased and adds strobe lights to the product line and a new HR department. HR business partners sell best practices to the committee promising to reducing training costs using new online learning technology that incorporates interactive gaming pushed to all employee cell phones. Taxes go up. A child dies.
Not till the 70s would crash studies be conducted on buses. The results? The study says they are dangerous, not up to standards.