9-1 Final Project: Submit Change Plan

Create Urgency In the Alaska Airlines case study, the senior leadership team was concerned that the airline was in jeopardy of losing customer loyalty and goodwill which in previous years had been plentiful (Avolio, Patterson & Baker, 2015). They
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  Andrea Spencer Jones 9-1 Final Project: Submit Change Plan Create Urgency In the Alaska Airlines case study, the senior leadership team was concerned that the airline was in jeopardy of losing customer loyalty and goodwill which in previous years had been plentiful (Avolio, Patterson & Baker, 2015). They had experienced a rebound from their all-time operational low but were still unstable as noted by the operations metrics that changed daily. The issues were whether they could sustain another downturn in performance and would their mediocre improvement be enough to maintain customer loyalty? The senior leadership team realized the immediate need to address the situation and develop a plan to fix the problem within the next 12 months. They developed an agenda and the following day they tackled the problems. After what one executive labeled “one of the ugliest sessions I’ve ever been a part of” the group emerged united and identified that operations “had to be fixed and it had to be fixed now.” This is clearly a s ign that a sense of urgency was evident and recognized by the team. Following that meeting the senior leadership team appointed Ben Minicucci as Vice President of Operations (VP) to oversee the effort to improve operations at the Seattle hub. They began the process of breaking down silos by implementing a dotted line reporting relationship between the managers and the new VP. Previously the hub was run by individual department managers of each operational unit (Avolio, Patterson & Baker, 2015). Minicucci oversaw a plan that impacted awareness, employee attitudes and behaviors. Minicucci implemented a culture of cross-divisional collaboration and alignment by establishing a team of directors and managers who had a personal stake in the day-to-day operations. This cross-functional team met daily for a minimum of 90 minutes, but meetings sometimes lasted longer and were labeled “food fights” because of the heated exchanges that occurred early on as the group learned to have open  Andrea Spencer Jones and honest debate about the issues without making it personal. Attendance was mandatory, and it was an opportunity to review the prior day’s operational performance and analyze root causes for the failures and delays (Avolio, Patterson & Baker, 2015). The goal was to identify ever yone’s level of accountability and not just place blame on other departments. During these meeting everyone was able to make suggestions and bring a topic for discussion but Minicucci retained decision rights on everything. Most change efforts fail. Change does not happen by watching; it happens by participating and everyone recognizing they have a part to play in the success of the initiative. Core teams need to figure out what to change before worrying about how to change. An of the greatest importance is what to change first (Kotter, 2015).   This is important in creating a sense of urgency that compels the group to act. To obtain buy in from key stakeholders, the underlying reason for the action must be clearly communicated along with the consequences of inaction. Organizations sometimes pursue the wrong change initiatives especially in complex organizations. There must be compelling evidence to convince the stakeholders that immediate action is needed. In some cases, change efforts have a terrible beginning. Senior leaders often inform employees of major changes via a company-wide email and expect them to blindly support the initiative based on company loyalty. This is more of a mandate and the employees do not feel they have a part to play or that their contribution is important. They will express their displeasure about the idea to each other and never fully support the plan. Any major change announcement should be made in a town hall type setting where employees are able to ask questions at the end of the announcement. This is not popular format because leaders often prefer to know what is coming and not fall prey to being blindsided by questions they cannot or do not want to answer. However, this level of transparency is a way of bringing the team together. It is  Andrea Spencer Jones helpful when leadership is open about what they can and cannot disclose. It is important to get the group focused on the common goal. Build a Guiding Coalition The first strategy I would implement would be to clearly establish this effort is a team initiative not just something that senior leaders dreamt up. Employees need to know how the change impacts them and what the consequences of inaction would be The second strategy would be to implement company-wide quarterly check in meetings. These meetings will keep employees abreast of the progress we are making toward our change goals. This is an opportunity to share what is going well, what has been abandoned and what is new. This will also serve as an opportunity to celebrate successes as they occur no matter how small they are. This keeps the initiative fresh in the minds of the team and helps to motivate them to continue forging ahead. People come together when they believe in something. Finally, I would implement a sub-team made up of leaders, managers and line employees. This team would report directly to the core team and would be heavily involved in working with the broader group to solicit ideas for discussion that move the initiative forward. I would give all employees a platform to share their ideas. In many cases, the core team that leads the change effort is made up of senior leaders or managers only. You rarely find line employees as a part of the core team. However, employees who have hands on day to day interaction are often the ones who can provide insight into process challenges and improvements. The message should be that even if they are wrong, their input is important because acting and making mistakes is more beneficial than no action at all. To keep team members engaged and motivated each team would be required to submit agenda items. The team member would then lead the discussion around their submission and take the lead in  Andrea Spencer Jones any action items that result from it. This will give them an opportunity to have hands on impact toward the successful implementation of the initiative. It is also important to set realistic priorities and deadlines at each state of the change. Team members should be empowered to make decisions and the right people must be in attendance during meetings to address critical issues without wasting everyone’s time by having to recap the outcomes later with a decision maker. It is beneficial to encourage people with different styles and points of view to participate. This will help cultivate their talent and increase participation. The 2007 planning session was the beginning of the emerging vision and strategy. There were three key directives that came from this meeting of high level officials: (1) they needed to fix problems plaguing the Seattle hub before trying to fix the entire system, (2) they needed to appoint a high level person to oversee the Seattle hub initiative, and (3) the person appointed needed to be well-connected and well-respected in order to able to break down silos and cross boundaries (Avolio, Patterson & Baker, 2015).   The selection of Minicucci was the beginning of their change strategy. Minicucci joined Alaska Airlines in 2004 and was previously with Air Canada. He also spent 14 years in maintenance and aerospace engineering with the Royal Military College of Canada. He was familiar with analyzing data and that ability, coupled with his grasp of the cultural aspects needed to change, made him an ideal candidate. One of the first things Minicucci introduced was a Vendor Oversight Group which produced a 180- point change plan in addition, he assembled a team of directors and managers with a personal stake in the various aspects of the day-to-day operations. This cross-functional team met daily for mandatory meetings (Avolio, Patterson & Baker, 2015). These meetings were safe forums for people to speak up and be transparent to get to the heart of the problems. Everyone was free to share during  Andrea Spencer Jones these sessions but Minicucci had decision rights. Prior to th is group’s formation, the status quo was to shift blame from department to department. No one took responsibility for the problems they were experiencing. “Fix Seattle” was a key initiative from the 2007 meeting and was running concurrently with another initiative which was entitled, “Voice of the Customer.” This was a cross -functional initiative made up of front-line employees and subject matter experts. The group realized the customer service strategies would not be realized without addressing the operational issues. Minicucci instituted the report card for the ramp vendor and ramp because this is the area where the most critical problems were occurring. The report card later became widely used as a tool to measure efficiency (Avolio, Patterson & Baker, 2015). One of the key ways Minicucci and the other executives reinforced the importance of “Fix Seattle” was by repetitive messaging during town hall meetings and internal communications aimed at re-engaging the employees. This communication strategy was important in keeping the message simple and keeping it in plain view and top of mind of the employees. As a result, the employees embraced that fact that they needed to get results quickly or the entire “Fix Seattle” initiative would fail. They showed that significant improvement was possible by implementing lean techniques, enforcing accountability and focusing on the shared goal. Repetition was the key to their breakthrough and by 2010, the Seattle hub was stable, and Alaska Airlines had significantly changed their culture. Form a Strategic Vision The values I believe are essential to this change initiative are time, creativity and innovation. As the team focuses on the change initiative, they must be given ample time to execute the plan. However, the business does not stop, and we must continue to focus on daily tasks. Change is stressful in its own right and we can assist the employees by providing additional manpower and resources to assist the
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