Has Our Industry Reached A Tipping Point?

I try to keep an ear to the ground for news that features the trucking and logistics industries. But I’m far from the only one! As it turns out, top-tier economists also monitor the trucking industry for signs as to where the national economy will go, and it’s easy to see why: everything, from food, to clothes, to medicine, to Christmas presents, is shipped on trucks.

Economists are now issuing warnings – forget capacity and other hindrances, if there simply aren’t enough drivers to drive the trucks, there’s going to be an issue with getting them to their destinations, which means higher costs for buyers.

Says Donald Broughton, author of the Cass Freight Index publication: “I don’t normally speak in hyperbole, but we’re entering some uncharted territory. If there is a 10 percent increase in transportation costs, that gives you a 1 percent increase in inflation for the broader economy. That’s real.”

When I read this Washington Post article, on what trucking tell us about the future of work, I realized, yet again, that this issue requires big brain power and big-picture thinking. Author Malcolm Gladwell came to mind.

If you’re not familiar with his work, Gladwell is a journalist and author who became known for his unique ability to link seemingly small, unrelated things to global changes. (Like that supply and demand article on Nutella and the capacity crisis we featured in February!) His breakout book, The Tipping Point, discusses social phenomena that have been affected by seemingly tiny factors.


What does he know about our industry?  You’d be surprised.  Check out this thoughtful video where he talks about the future of self-driving vehicles. Or this article where he analyzes the validity of Car and Driver’s car rankings.

Gladwell doesn’t just read books or articles, he also reads the sources the authors cite for their works, and then the sources for those sources, back and back until he finds a story that relates to the concept he’s curious about.

hiringNow, I’m no expert (in his book, Outliers, Gladwell posits that the key to achieving expertise in any skill, is around 10,000 hours of practice or experience), but I do think that we could get somewhere using some of the key concepts of the Malcolm Gladwell mindset:

–    Nothing is local, everything is global.
While everyone is unique, there are patterns in human behavior that are nearly universal. Assume that the struggles of your small operation are the same ones experienced all over, and think outside of the normal solutions.

–    Bad is Good and Good is Bad.
Instead of looking at these challenges as a death knell or a warning blast, think of them as a notification, giving us time to adapt and change for a new workforce.

–    Make your solutions intriguing.
Intrigue is what keeps us invested in a new solution that might seem otherwise crazy. Find the human connection in the solutions you present, and watch people turn their brains on to help.

Do you have a creative solution to the hiring crisis in trucking? I’d love to exchange ideas.


Fuel for thought,