Dublin airport has had a highly successful run. They have been the fastest growing airport since 201, expanding three times faster than the European average. They have unique features like US pre-clearance, a reputation for having some of the friendliest staff in an airport, and they were the first airport in the world to receive an ISO 22001 asset management certification.
Their success, however, presents an interesting problem. How do you convince staff and management to change when "it ain't broke"?
Even when a company is doing well, you can still point to a number of internal drivers and external drivers which, left alone, will slowly erode away service levels of quality. Aside from that, change is fundamental to every enterprise, regardless of performance - there are trends and issues which constantly need to be reviewed, especially when it comes to staff.
A big issue with implementing changes and debating strategy in an airport is its decentralized nature, as the staff is not only spread out across a sprawling airport campus, but across the world. The diversity of staff and individuals is tricky as they need to get every member on the same page. How do you bring everyone into a conversation which adds value to both their work and personal lives in a which helps them develop and learn?
First, you need to diligently gather as much pertinent data behind everything you can. In particular, Dublin Airport targets:
Customer communication - They question international customers more because local customers are also stakeholders and can have biased responses as they are invested in their local airport.
Stakeholder communication - universities, business associations, students, housing associations etc
The first thing you have to do is listen. Align with your stakeholders - understand, assemble, analyze, and assess. Then move on to creating the strategy and approach, using everything you have learned.
The next stage is implementation. This not a static process. You change, build, test, prove, and refine
For implementation to work, there needs to be over-arching message disseminated out to your staff through 5 different channels.
There are 5 channels:
Physical - informing and inspiring
In person - engagement and understanding
Events - recognition with senior levels
Training - skill development
Digital - recognition across the enterprise.
You need to get people involved in the messaging. People need more than the 'what', they also want the 'why' behind the choice. The reasons every step of the way. Tailor your message to your audiences
- Set common principles, but do not constrain thinking via an over-complex process
- Be transparent about the process and how decisions will be made
- Agree on target outcomes as early as possible, albeit with room to evolve.
- Empower teams and their leaders (your experts!), supporting them as needed
- Follow an iterative, multi-level process
- Stay strategic - focus on the 'vital few'
- Accept the multi-year plans are 'informed best guesses' that evolve in-cycle
- Equip people to develop, track, learn from and evolve their plans once built