London Underground – Signals Visualisation

Background

London Underground [LU] is a suburban and cross city underground and over-ground rail network, serving London and parts of the adjacent counties of Buckinghamshire, Essex and Hertfordshire. The railway network has 11 lines and handles over 4.5 million customers every day. In 2016–17, it carried 1.379 billion customers.

The Client has recently undergone a large transformation programme with multiple work-streams. One of these work-streams was set-up for the design and implementation of a Visualisation process, within the Asset Operations division, and more specifically, within the Signals sub-division of Asset Operations.

The objective was to deliver a process that would become a catalyst for performance improvement, through the effective use of data and focus of improvement activities, around returning the division to its target business performance levels. All of this work was completed against a back-drop of structural changes and reorganisation within London Underground.

Challenges

The Signals delivery team was challenged with a legacy structure that meant that data and information came from two different reporting sources, with inconsistencies between the two systems. This manifested itself into ineffective weekly performance reviews. The key issues causing this ineffectiveness included:

  • Difficulty in obtaining accurate overall performance data for the Signals division, due to local reporting and data management systems that weren’t linked
  • Inconsistency in topics discussed between different areas at performance reviews. No consistent “Balanced Scorecard” or standardised reporting approach was available or utilised
  • Data was spread across multiple Excel spreadsheets and not readily available to the whole team
  • A reactive “lookback culture”, based upon reviewing what had happened in the previous week was prevalent, rather than a “look forward” approach based upon proactive action to reduce issues
  • Low group wide engagement and energy during weekly performance reviews

Solutions

Through previous engagement with existing visualisation processes within LU, the Head of Signals was clear about his objective to standardise, where possible, around the existing visualisation processes in use in other divisions. But to tailor elements of it relevant to the specific measurements, reporting and challenges faced by Signals.

The approach taken involved:

  • Working closely with the Head of Signals on initial draft designs for the Visualisation Centre, and the data required to populate it
  • Reviewing the initial draft designs of each individual board with the relevant department/area within Signals, that would be responsible for that board
  • Conducting Data and Design fine-tuning workshops with all relevant stakeholders, to ensure the correct data was displayed, in the correct format
  • Developing some basic and low level reporting capability as “Quick Win” solutions to existing data gaps (There was, at this point in the project, no resource available within the central reporting team to help develop reporting suites for Signals).

Each of the above activities were supported via continuous P7 coaching, on a daily basis, to ensure not only consistency of approach across the team, but that the Visualisation Centre would add value to the team, and drive performance improvement within the Signals division.

After the launch of the first meeting, P7 coaching continued to ensure that the Visualisation process continued to improve and develop, but to also ensure that the facilitators of the process had the right level of training, coaching and support to have enough confidence to run the Visualisation meetings without external support.

Impact on Performance