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Change Innovation Management - British Airways (ba)

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British Airways (BA) was a pioneer in European civil aviation. This did not however, make them any less susceptible to the complexities of harmonizing their culture and customer service. A company once referred to as "bloody awful", BA has managed to shift from a military mentality with a purely operational focus to an environment that encourages productivity, profit and people. Life at the "old" BA was cold, sterile and did not support a healthy culture. Radical changes had to be made in order to transform external and internal perceptions.

Life at the "old" BA was operationally focused, effective but not efficient and orderly. People whether they be employees or passengers were not treated as the first priority. The "old" BA was not concerned with excelling at customer service, feedback and change efforts or even profit. BA found themselves in a position where they had no choice but to make very drastic changes in order to stay afloat. On September 10th 1981, Roy Watts the chief executive issued a statement to BA staff advising them that their losses were draining them at a rate of nearly £200 a minute. They had to make a shift from their way of doing things to a way which would foster relationships and increase customer service and they had to do it now.

The critical factors in BA effective transformation were a clear and compelling business case, the willingness to change and to support the efforts, communication to all employees which leads to buy-in and therefore, commitment. BA found out the hard way that their operational focus and systematic way of doing things would not work in a service industry. BA would have to work to dramatically improve their image in order to become and stay competitive.

Change is difficult whether it be small or large, personal or professional in nature. You have to take time to do the appropriate planning and build a strong foundation for success. It took BA a little under 10 years to change their culture. They cemented their change by hiring new blood which showed their commitment to change. Colin Marshall was hired in 1983 as CEO and in my opinion was key to the turnaround of BA. Marshall made customer service his crusade. He not only preached but practiced his ideas and vision which quickly translated into inspiration for other BA employees and passengers.

Marshall put a strong emphasis on education and training. Amongst the trainings that BA executed were Putting People First (PPF) and Managing People First (MPF). These programs reinforced the changes which were necessary but also worked to create a culture that would be inclined to change. Along with these programs BA provided new uniforms to all employees and unveiled a new fleet of aircraft. This made their changes visible to the externally as well.

It is necessary to change in order to adapt to your environment. British



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