One of the great things about working in Bristol is being able to walk over the Clifton Suspension Bridge on the way to the office. Normally this affords stunning views of the Avon Gorge and the city. One day last week, however, it was so foggy that only half of the bridge could be seen. Floating on a sea of fog, it looked as though the bridge were disappearing into the unknown.
A sailing course that I attended many years ago taught me about the two main types of fog. I apologise in advance to any meteorologists but as I understand it, there is: radiation fog, which occurs mainly over land on clear nights as the ground cools, and advection fog which occurs mainly over the sea and happens when warm, moist air flows across colder waters. As a keen sailor, it is the latter type that concerns me most. It can roll in very quickly, making it difficult to be seen and requiring fairly strong winds to clear it.
Anyway, back to the bridge. The surreal scene was created by radiation fog which soon burned away in the morning sun to reveal Brunel’s masterpiece in all its glory.
In a contemplative moment, this striking image made me consider the obfuscating factors that shroud companies and hamper clarity and insight. When businesses operate in the fog, it is impossible for them to fully understand how they are perceived by their customers or employees. Running an effective voice of the customer programme acts as shining sunlight over the murky bridge. It quickly burns away the enveloping haziness of incomprehension allowing customers’ true opinions to be seen in perfect clarity.