President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget provides USPS with $4 billion in financial relief. (see post here). La Poste, in France, has also voted a large influx of capital to prepare for a significant transformation next year (see post). Some are concerned that this relief may not be sufficient to enable a fundamental restructuring of the USPS business model, thus potentially causing dire consequences.
USPS needs to transition its business model from volume-driven revenue generation to a value-driven proposition, and its people must be the key to this new model. Today, stopgap measures are looking at reducing delivery days, and encouraging early retirement. USPS should take advantage of the proposed financial relief to formulate how it can offer value-added services to its customers and further invest in its workforce. Rather than viewing its workforce as a cost center, it should begin to identify how it may turn it into a profit center.
The carrier pickup services offered by USPS are an excellent example of that type of innovative thinking. The U.S. regulatory framework limits USPS’s range of possibilities, but the root of the issue is more cultural than regulatory. USPS has achieved operational excellence, delivering astonishing mail distribution productivity. However, it has difficulty adapting. Moreover, it sees its workforce as elements in its production lines, as opposed to the thousands of potential human and business connections that can be established between the USPS workforce and citizens, small business owners, home-based workers, retirees, etc. These connections are potentially the cornerstone of USPS’s commitment to ‘bind the nation’.
By weaving USPS’s unequaled logistical distribution network with the capabilities that an information-empowered workforce could provide, the USPS could start to develop new scenarios where daily connections between its workforce and its customers create opportunities to provide valuable and profitable services.