Guest Contributors

Why I Was Fascinated by the Smarter Cities Challenge Team


IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge (SCC) Program, which was held with a mixture of worry and expectation, ended on June 8 after three of the busiest weeks ever. As a social contribution program wherein IBM, the world’s leading firm, selects 100 cities around the world for three years from 2011 to 2013, the program sends professionals, analyzes the problems of the cities, and suggests a recommendation to make the cities smarter.

Last year, Cheongju city applied for the program with the theme of “Improvement of Public Transportation System” and finally qualified for the program for the first time in Korea. “Cheongju City’s mayor and employees had great desire and passion to award the grant” an official concerned in IBM said, giving a hint as to the reason Cheonju city was finally selected for the SCC program.

Starting May 21, six transportation-related experts were sent to Cheongju, and they diagnosed the city’s transportation problems for three weeks. After that, they suggested eight solutions. The detailed report will be officially delivered within 7 ~ 8 weeks. From the presentation during the final discussion session alone, however, one can already get a sense of their deep and wide concerns despite the brief time. In the future, Cheongju city will actively reflect the execution fit for its situation by closely reviewing their recommendations.

They stayed in Cheonju for three weeks only. The period would not have been sufficient for the world’s leading transportation experts to propose recommendations given their pride and under the name of IBM even as they had fully referred to documents including Cheongju’s transportation policies and existing plans and heard the opinions of many people. Therefore, how did they make use of the insufficient time to come up successfully with such recommendations?

First, they listened to as many opinions as possible and visited the sites personally to draw better conclusions by accurately diagnosing problems and minimizing trials and errors.

“Discovery!” This was the first week’s theme based on the schedule they prepared. They asked us to have them meet many people including professionals, professors, civil organizations, officials in the industry, merchants, passengers, citizens, etc. For three weeks, at least 60 interviews had been done. Later, the interpreter pleaded for a break, complaining of throat pains; this sufficiently suggests just how intensive they were.

Second, they showed a “working lunch-type” work style as well as passion when it came to the tasks.

When they started interviewing or discussing with local professionals and officials concerned, they did continuous long interviews until they got the information they wanted. We even felt sorry for those who made time for interviews, since they had working lunch with lunch boxes almost every day during the first week.

On Memorial Day, they had interviews with the traffic administration division of city of Cheongju because it was a holiday. We expected the interviews to be over in the morning, but they were conducted nonstop for 7 hours.

By the way, what was amazing was that nothing was seen at the start, but the outline slowly emerged after the 7-hours long discussion, which continued even after dinner. According to them, they gathered data through interviews during daytime and had discussions to summarize them late at night almost every day.

They made sure to get feedback on their own conclusions on the following day. Their passion and concentration for work were really amazing.

Third and last, they always respected others’ opinions and humbly accepted them.

They are professionals who have extensive information on a variety of fields including transportation policies in countries around the world. They may have wanted to give advices to many people while interviewing them.

They never showed such attitude at all, however. They were always humble yet accepted and respected others’ opinions fully. All speakers could fully open everything in their mind and deliver their thoughts, feeling that they were respected. That might be the reason they got as much information as possible within such a short time.

IBM’s SCC team recommended eight matters to Cheongju city and left, but I feel as if I had received more than their official recommendations. That’s why I was fascinated by IBM’s SCC team.

Cheol-wan Park is Director of the Transportation Administration Division of the City of Cheongju, Korea. This article originally appeared in JungBu Maeil/JB News.


스마터 시티 챌린지(SCC)팀에 반한 이유

걱정반 기대반으로 맞이했던 IBM의 ‘스마터 시티 챌린지(SCC)’ 프로그램이 숨가쁜 3주간 일정을 마치고 지난 6월 8일 끝났다. SCC 프로그램은 세계적 기업 IBM이 2011~2013년까지 3년간 세계 100개도시를 선정, 전문가를 파견하여 그 도시의 문제를 분석하고, 진단해서 보다 스마트한 도시가 될 수 있는 권고안을 제시해 주는 사회공헌 프로그램이다.

청주시는 지난해 ‘대중교통 시스템 개선’이라는 주제로 응모해 우리나라에서는 처음으로 이 프로그램을 따냈다. IBM 관계자는 “청주시는 시장님부터 직원들까지 하나같이 이 프로그램을 꼭 따내고야 말겠다는 의욕과 열정이 너무 대단했다”라며 청주시가 SCC에 최종 선정된 이유라며 귀뜸해 주었다.

지난 5월 21일부터 6명의 교통관련 전문가가 파견돼 3주간 청주시의 교통문제를 진단한 후 그 해결방안을 8가지로 제시하고 돌아갔다. 상세한 보고서는 7~8주후에 공식적으로 전달되겠지만 최종보고회시 발표한 내용만 보더라도 길지않은 기간이었음에도 매우 깊이있고 폭넓게 고민한 흔적들을 엿볼 수 있다. 앞으로 청주시는 이들의 권고안이 전달되면 내부적으로 면밀히 검토하여 우리 실정에 맞는 실행안을 확정한 후 적극 반영할 계획이다.

그들이 청주에 머문 기간은 3주에 불과했다. 그들이 세계적인 교통전문가로서 아무리 우리시의 교통정책과 기존계획 등 자료들을 충분히 참고할 수 있었고, 또 많은 사람들을 만나 의견을 들을 수 있었다 하더라도 전문가로서의 자신들의 명예와 세계적기업 IBM의 이름을 걸고 권고안을 제시하기에는 3주가 결코 충분한 시간은 아니었을 것이다. 그렇다면 그들은 어떻게 그 부족한 시간을 활용했기에 가능했을까?

첫째, 문제를 정확히 진단하고 시행착오를 줄여 보다 나은 결론을 도출해 내기 위해 최대한 많은 의견을 듣고 직접 현장을 찾았다.

‘Discovery(발견)’! 이것은 그들이 작성한 스케쥴표의 첫 번째주 스케쥴 테마였다. 그들은 전문가, 교수, 시민단체, 업계 관계자, 상인, 승객, 일반시민 등 정말 많은 사람들을 만나게 해달라고 주문했다. 3주동안 적어도 60여회 이상의 인터뷰를 진행했는데 나중에는 통역사가 목이 아파 고통을 호소할 정도였으니 그 강도가 어느정도 였는지 짐작 할 수 있을 것 같다.

둘째는 ‘Working Lunch형’ 업무 스타일과 일에 대한 열정이다.

지역전문가나 관계자와 인터뷰나 토론을 시작하면 자신들이 원하는 정보를 얻을때까지 끝까지 마라톤 인터뷰를 진행했다. 인터뷰를 위해 시간을 내주신 분들께 미안할 정도였다. 그러다 보니 첫주에는 거의 매일 도시락으로 점심을 해결(Working Lunch)할 수 밖에 없었다.

또 현충일에는 휴일인 관계로 시 교통행정과와 인터뷰를 진행했는데 오전에 끝날거라는 인터뷰가 장장 7시간 동안 쉬지 않고 진행되었다.

그런데 신기한 것은 시작할때는 아무것도 보이지 않던 것들이 7시간 토론후에는 서서히 윤곽을 잡아가는 모습에서 매우 신기하고 놀라웠다. 이들의 토론은 저녁식사 이후에도 진행되었다. 낮에 인터뷰를 통해서 얻은 자료를 취합하고 정리하기 위해 거의 매일 밤늦게까지 토론을 진행하였다고 한다.

그렇게 내린 자신들만의 결론은 반드시 다음날 다시 피드백을 받는 방식으로 진행하였다. 일에 대한 열정과 집중력에 놀라울 따름이었다.

셋째는 어느 상황에서든 상대방의 의견을 존중하고 늘 겸손하게 받아들인다는 점이다.

그들은 세계각국의 교통정책을 포함하여 다양한 분야에 매우 깊이있는 정보를 갖고 있는 전문가들이다. 이곳에서 많은 사람들을 인터뷰 하면서 때로 한수 가르쳐주고 싶은 마음도 있었을 것이다.

하지만 그들은 빈말로도 절대 그런 모습을 보이지 않았다. 늘 겸손하면서도 상대의 의견을 진지하게 받아들이고 존중했다. 말하는 사람은 인터뷰 내내 존중받는 느낌으로 자신의 생각을 모두 다 얘기할 수 있었다. 그러기에 짧은 시간동안 더 많은 정보를 얻게 되지 않았을까?

IBM SCC 팀은 청주시에 8가지 제안사항을 권고하고 떠났다. 하지만 나는 그들의 권고안에는 담겨있지 않지만 보이지 않는 더 소중한 권고를 받은 느낌이다. 이것이 IBM SCC 팀에 반한 이유이다.

[기고] 박철완 청주시 교통행정과장

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