Taking a business in a new direction is difficult, and the larger the business, the harder the undertaking. For an institution like the Postal Service with over 600,000 employees and 31,000 retail offices, it can be especially daunting.

Disruptions in the consumer market are forcing USPS to move in a new direction. As its customers become increasingly focused on packages rather than letters, the Postal Service must adapt to a disrupted business model. Luckily, there are a wealth of examples, both from government and private business, that the Postal Service can learn from as it charts a course through new waters.

In our new paper, How Institutions Change, we look at public and private organizations that have adapted to disruptions in their traditional business lines and identify lessons that could be useful to the Postal Service. The paper looks to learn not only from successes of organizations but failures as well.

The first focus of the paper is Amtrak and how it navigated changes in strategy while balancing its dual roles as a private company and a public service. A lesson from Amtrak? Clear communications and fact-based business cases are helpful in presenting change to the public and stakeholders.

Next, we looked at how technology brought a fundamental disruption to the video rental industry, and how Netflix and Blockbuster faced vastly different experiences in developing new strategies. Finally, we look at traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, as they searched to provide new consumer experiences to maintain relevance with the growth of online retail.

There are unique challenges in this situation. As the Postal Service looks to roll out its 10-Year Plan and other strategic initiatives, it has to consider different stakeholders, such as Congress, its regulators, and the mailing industry.

What do you think? Are there other businesses or industries that can provide lessons for the Postal Service?

Comments (4)

  • anon

    There seems to be little or no discussion of reduced deliver days as a cost/cutting increased efficiency solution. While I recognize that many people and businesses need daily delivery 7 days a week, I am confident that a great many people could get by with fewer deliveries. I personally could easily get by with deliveries on Mon and Friday only. Many businesses are closed on Saturday/Sunday. Why can't the USPS offer a small discount for services obtained through a card given to those that participate, to people or businesses that agree to alternate schedules such as no weekends or 2 or 3 deliveries per week. With computerized routing and scheduling software currently utilized by numerous companies, I am confident that the USPS could dramatically cut costs of operation while still providing daily service to those that need it. I see where the USPS is having trouble filling all the necessary positions so this could help alleviate that problem also. This plan or something similar seems like an obvious option, but I have never even seen it discussed.

    Aug 11, 2021
  • anon

    There are 4 businesses that can provide lessons for the Postal Service: FedEx, UPS, Walmart, and Amazon. Fundamental and archaic principles dictated development of the current USPS computer systems. Those computer systems are no longer a tool to assist humans. Their inane requirements have created burdens on staff and customers. The USPS should no longer allow the tail to wag the dog.

    Aug 09, 2021
  • anon

    The solutions to many problems are stop hiring skimmers and scsmmers, true honest employees.. I have mail not receiving, given to others; complained still have sometimes know results...Police reports on filed, sad.

    Aug 09, 2021
  • anon

    It’s sad but it’s true. This extra strain on the U.S.Postal service was a result of honest employees carrying the weight dropped by the other ( not so honest employees ) who capitalized on the opportunity to facilitate scammers and special interest groups for bribes. I witnessed how my own mail was intercepted by the same carriers we trusted to adhere USPS’s renowned ethical culture.

    Aug 16, 2021