Driving Forward…

Saturday morning in the UK after a week on the US East Coast dodging snow and meeting with partners, old friends, new friends and new partners. Saturday morning I find myself thinking of my driving test. To put this into context, I took and passed my driving test – essential to drive legally in the UK – when I was seventeen.

I was relatively relaxed (rightly or wrongly I hasten to add) whilst actually driving…my anxiety was centred on the verbal question and answer session (on driving) that in those days happened at the end of the test. Stories circulating amongst my friends described obscure and baffling questions…stories that had led to me read, learn and re-read the Highway Code…several times! But I was still nervous.

“How far ahead should you be looking when you are driving?” was the apparently obscure question that floored me. That information wasn’t in the Code. What was the inspector asking? Why? How should I reply? I had no idea. I knew I it wasn’t a moment to ask for clarification.

One hundred yards. One hundred yards was my precise – but totally nonsensical – response. I knew immediately my answer was nonsensical by the look on his face. Even a naïve seventeen year old could recognise that face. One hundred yards – what do you mean – was his confused reply?

Fortunately my examiner helped me by immediately asking a more precise question – “if you were driving at 70mph, how long would it take you to stop?” Three hundred yards was my immediate and correct answer (correct since that figure was in the Highway Code). “Is the right answer” he said. “And so looking forward for 100 yards is a nonsense answer isn’t it”. He added. “When driving, you have to forward plan as far as you can see.” He advised.

Fast forward to Saturday. I was reading and laughing at an article reviewing ‘Business Jargon’. And one maligned and mocked expression was ‘forward planning’. ‘Planning is always for the future so the addition of forward is totally irrelevant’ being the acerbic critique.

Forward planning…business jargon…gratuitous inclusion of extra words. Yes it made me laugh. But then I flashed back to my driving test and those words of advice on forward planning from my Driving Inspector.

In a car we have a rear view mirror and for sure it’s important to watch what’s happening behind you (backward planning?) But planning forward – assessing the driving conditions and road we are travelling on – is essential. Where we are heading and what’s happening in front of us…what others are doing around us…what others expect us to do…how their actions or expectations could impact or influence us.

Sure enough, when I drive, I avoid concentrating on any single point. I look ahead as far as I can see…and I watch the car immediately in front of me. Both may become a hazard. Either could create a difficult situation.

When we drive, forward planning requires us to take more notice of what is happening ahead. Forward planning anticipates hazards before they materialise – junctions, cyclists, pedestrians, other vehicles. Some are clear and some are even sign posted. Others just happen.

So yes I laughed yesterday morning at our business jargon – business jargon I know I use far too often. But courtesy of my driving examiner I disagreed with the irrelevancy of that word.

The inclusion of ‘forward’ is vital – it ensures we differentiate what is ahead of us from anything happening to us, and definitely from anything behind us.

Forward planning – good forward planning – is essential to ensure we get to where we want to go…

…safely…successfully…and quickly.




About Steve Street

I have worked in R&D within the Pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. Up until April 2012 all of my career had been with one company, but that has now changed. I left that company and took up a new role on May 1, 2012 - still very much within the Pharmaceutical industry and again based in the UK. I have been blogging every week now for over 10 years but only on an external site since January 2012. Email updates of the blogs can be requested using the ‘follow’ option within Wordpress. The blogs are only ever my personal view of what I see, think and feel. I am delighted if you agree and find value; happy if you disagree with my views and overjoyed if you feel motivated to comment. Most of all I am simply grateful that you read. Cheers Steve
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