9-1 Final Project: Submit Change Plan
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At the end of this module, you will be submitting your final project, a change plan for the Alaska Airlines case study. Throughout the course, you have had multiple opportunities to work on the elements of this proposal and fine-tune your thinking for the change plan.
Your finalized proposal should incorporate feedback you have received from your instructor as well as your peers.
For additional details, please refer to the Final Project Guidelines and Rubric document.
663-9-1 Final Project: Submit Change Plan
Change is a constant element in an organization. In the 1990s, Alaska Airlines experienced structural challenges in its business processes. The uncertainties and inconsistencies that characterize the airline’s market environment make it imperative to engage in change. The primary cause of performance issues rested on the management decision to adopt a laissez-faires approach. Therefore, the change occurred in the corporate culture focusing on service delivery. The management of Alaska Airlines opposed the introduction of Departure of Time reporting. The company started experiencing inefficiencies in customer services. It is time for Alaska Airlines to initiate the change process to improve customer satisfaction, streamline its business strategies and edge competitively in the market. The significance of a change plan is to consolidate change agents, reform the organizational culture and motivate the workforce. The successful introduction of change in Alaska Airlines will follow Kotler’s eight steps process in implementing change. Therefore, Alaska Airlines will need to initiate the change process and thus increase its customer satisfaction, workforce productivity and general efficiency.
Part 1: Diagnosis and Analysis of Alaska Airline
Alaska Airlines is a Seattle based Career that started experiencing strategies issues in its organizational leadership. The restructure in the organization created a series of problems that affected operational efficiency. As a result, the laissez-faires leadership that the management aided saw the flights dropping in its Departure of Time Reporting. The issues compounded, leading to the organization reporting only 60 per cent of the flights arriving on time. Also, the department of transportation reported that the staff mishandled 7 out of the 1000 passengers’ bags (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). Although the airline recorded a slight improvement at 70 to 75 per cent of on-time flights, the cargo section had its efficiency deteriorating. Accordingly, only four out of 100 passengers recorded satisfaction with how the staff handled their bags. The strategic operations became a challenge to the entire organization, with ground crew handling baggage without considering quality customer service. The issue extended to the staff operating in the ground service in between flights (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). Therefore, the Departure of Time reporting metrics registered on the poor scale, thus impacting customer loyalty and satisfaction.
The organization experienced a reduction in its revenue performance. Previously, Alaska Airlines was a three million dollar company that enjoyed a brand reputation and a high financial performance. The problems that came with the laissez-faires leadership approach saw reputation with customers falling. Also, the company started experiencing uses with its central hub in Seattle. There were also problems with large groups of employees (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). The leadership and management failed to implement operational changes. Pilots experienced a drop in workforce morale after introducing a 30 per cent pay cut without due process. Therefore, the organization experienced a work slowdown and critical aspects of business processes such as reporting the aircraft maintenance could occur in the last minutes. Aspects of Rocky contract negotiation with labour groups impacted the employees’ engagement negatively. The manager used a hands-off approach in over sighting the operations, creating a lack of proper operational schedules (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). Alaska Airlines should change its operational approach by improving its Departure of Time reporting metrics, establishing an organizational culture focused on the shared value, enhancing labour relations issues, and improving motivation. The staff need to engage in mechanisms that improve performance. These elements will introduce normalcy and establish strategic interventions that would propel the organization to excellence in business.
Causes and Impacts of the Problems
Alaska Airlines CEO adopted a mandatory Departure on Time Reporting metrics. The changes came at the backdrop of successful performance in the 1990s. Thus, the justification for the Departure on Time reporting indicated that the airline had its operating space. Therefore, under the then CEO, Ray Vecci focused on blaming the systems instead of addressing the issues of lateness in departure and dealing with the actual problems (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). The lateness heightened, increasing the problems and thus affecting customer satisfaction. Also, the employees suffered low morale while the CEO continued ignoring these issues. The poor strategic management abilities compounded the failure of the CEO to deal with the challenges of inefficiency and instead focus on the ineffective customer service that the company had utilized. As a result, Alaska Airlines continued experiencing adverse outcomes in its business processes. In the end, the customer service rating dipped further.
The labour issues became a problem that affected the business strategy of Alaska Airlines. Although the management managed to address these issues superficially, the temporary semblance of a strong relationship between customers and employees could not help increase service efficiency (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). As a result, labour management suffered a great deal. At this point, Alaska Airlines suffered unrest, protests and strikes. The arbitration did not succeed, and s union leaders could not reach amicable solutions within the company’s management in good time. Therefore, the strained relationship between employees and the organization’s management affected the company’s performance, productivity, retention rate, revenue and elements of job satisfaction. Moreover, the organization faced challenges with communication and interpersonal relationship that made employees feel a lack of recognition. As a result, most of the employees depicted a lack of commitment because of reduced perceived value for organizational fit (Bradley et al., 2018). For this reason, the employees’ motivation, morale and job satisfaction continue reducing, thus affecting the performance and output of Alaska Airlines.
Alaska Airlines had experienced air tragedies in January 2000. The aircraft carrying eighty-eight passengers and crew crashed, thus affecting the working committee of employees. Similarly, the organization suffered the September 11 terrorist attached that led to boarding and security procedures changes. The airline disrupted its operations following the industry-wide factor that reduced the demand for air travel between 2001 and 2002. As a result, several airlines filed for bankruptcy. Although Alaska Airlines did not implement the furloughs, it went ahead to cut off its flight schedules by approximately thirteen per cent (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). The company took advantage of the federal government compensation to restore confidence among the customers that its services would improve. However, the supply chain bottleneck in oil-producing companies increased the jet fuel. The high cost of fuel accounted for 30 per cent of the operational cost for Alaska Airlines. The high expenditure affected the airline’s economic performance, forcing it to downsize its workforce (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). All these circumstances caused strategic problems for Alaska Airlines. It also affected the productivity and efficiency of the airline. Therefore, the entire organization, its staff and customer experienced dissatisfaction, thus contributing to inefficiency in the organization.
Drivers for Organizational Change
Companies have certain factors that create and drive change. The primary organizational needs include the desire for the organization to satisfy the customers’ needs, the direction of competitors, key performance indicators and external market environments (Cohen 2005). The drivers for change are evident in the case of Alaska Airlines based on the dwindling fortunes, low productivity and increasing inefficiency. The introduction of the Departure on Time metric led to the lateness in arrival flights. Some of the drivers for organizational change in Alaska Airlines include cases where the company experienced customer complaints following an increased rate of crews mishandling g passenger bags. The final driver involves the drop in the customer service rating. The decisions that the CEO made limited the performance and growth of the company. For this reason, he contributed to arrays of problems that led to dissatisfied employees, created the environment for labour issues and failed to integrate strategies that would motivate the employees, establish a positive organizational culture and instil a high level of commitment to the organizations (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). Therefore, there are several drivers for organizational change in the case of Alaska Airlines.
Factors that Affect Change Process Negatively
The change process is a pragmatic outlook that focuses on elements of organizational culture. An organization with a shared value and learning culture embraces diversity, enriches communication, and creates teamwork (Laig and Abocejo 2021). Different variables, conditions, factors, individuals, and issues negatively impact the change process. The organization must handle the change process through planning (Franken, Edwards and Lambert 2009). In the case of Alaska Airlines, several issues that affected the organizational business operations come to the fore. Most of the factors included the rise in jet oil prices due to the bottleneck in the global supply chain. Also, the company experienced complacency in the arrival of its flights, management of passenger’s backs and addressing labour relations issues. As a result, there was a decline in efficiency, employee morale, customer satisfaction and the general work environment.
Alaska Airlines had a Labor Plan Agenda 2010 whose focus was on shareholders, customers and employees. The implementation of the strategy led the company to initiate different actions such as reducing the cost of operations through downsizing. It offered the closure of Tuscan stations and different consolidated operations. Other initiatives included outsourcing three small groups and shutting down the ticket offices in Anchorage and Juneau in Bellevue and Seattle (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). Therefore, the company downsized its staff from 10,000 to almost 900. The flight attended, pilots and other service crews renegotiated for their terms in the voluntary severance packages. As a result, the management lost talented employees.
The poor organizational structure affects the change process. According to Men, Yue and Liu (2020), organization structure determines the company’s levels of coordination. In Alaska Airlines, poor team structure impacted negatively on the productivity and morale of workers. As a result, the organization experienced poor team structure that created dissatisfaction among the employees, lack of commitment and poor service delivery. The role of the matrix team is to organize different activities in the organizations and increase the productivity of workers.
Underlying Source of Problem and Mechanism to Address it
The metrics that the CEO introduced affected the arrival time of the flight. In addition, the customers complained that the crew could mishandle their bags in four out of 1000 bags (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). Therefore, Alaska Airlines experienced the metrics staggering. However, while all these were happening, the CEO did not bother to salvage the situation. Therefore, the company could not gain a competitive edge in the market. Mr Ray Vecci operated on the belief that Alaska Airlines had effective customer service, and only some aspects of the organization recorded below average results. The misleading picture of the actual state of offers made the organization lose its brand reputation, demoralize its employees, and plummet in performance. The issues with employees such as the plots and other crew created a significant organizational issue that requires a strategic change plan.
A matrix team of managers and directors was the primary approach to solving the issues in Alaska Airlines. The diversity of a team in any organization depends on the diversity of leaders. For this reason, Minicucci developed an effective team that utilized different mechanisms to operationalize the organization’s activities (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). Moreover, the management streamlined the Lean processes improvement through a cross-functional team that identified the problems and proposed solutions. The engagement of the correct team is critical in cultivating shared values and encouraging communication. The outcome is sustained relationships and increased trust. Thus, the cross-functional team developed different mechanisms to address the problems affecting the operations of the airline. All members of the team remained accountable for the issues and contributed to the growth of the organization. Communication opened the challenges for brainstorming, consultation, and feedback systems that supported the change initiatives and addressed the challenges affecting the organization’s performance.
The Gap in the Current Situation in the Organization and Vision for Change
Change management depends on identifying critical factors that an organization must work on for targeted outcomes. In Alaska Airlines, the gap between the current situation of inefficiency and delays in arrival time of flights and the intended outcome for business excellence requires a vision for change. The management team need to review all factors that determine the current situation of poor morale among workers, lack of commitment among employees, poor customer satisfaction and ineffectiveness in the arrival time metrics. Assessing all this information is vital for creating a vision for change. According to Cohen (2005), change management is a process that focuses on understanding the need for change. Therefore, the case of Alaska indicates that increased cases of crews mishandling the passenger bags, continuous delay in flights, disengagement of employees, and a series of other factors contribute to the organization’s problems. The leader must take charge and initiate a change vision that would guide the transformational process.
Alaska Airlines change vision should begin with directing all managers to work on a solution for the Seattle hub. The leaders will assess available options to implement a performance review mechanism, restructure teams, and develop different strategies to create and sustain change. The head of operations proposed integrating expert skills and leadership skull to address control systems engineering, organizing the activities, and stabilizing the system (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). Investing in the structural components of the organization will enhance the effectiveness of the business process. Also, the operational manager needs to focus on leading with the passion for driving the accountability process, using technology to manage b people and calling for collaboration. Minicucci aligned his proposals aligned with the cross-collaboration framework. It played a suitable role in managing and creating a change vision.
The operations department attempted to bridge the gap by holding a matrix meeting. Minicucci held a meeting that incorporated different heads of departments in the company. The transparency in the meeting allowed people to express their honest opinions and propose solutions for addressing the problems. The meeting depicted the organizational structure, thus eliminating cases of uncertainty that could inhibit the management of the change process. Therefore, Minicucci emphasized open and collaborative communication as a principle of leading change. The goal of communication was to assess the progress of the change process, evaluate different operational issues that emerge, and monitor employees’ commitment to supporting change. As a result, every individual in the matrix team participated with authority and enthusiasm (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). Minicucci’s approach acted as a force of motivation, making the employees embrace tenets of organizational fit, enhance their perceived value of organizational performance, and become part of the organization. It emerged that the airline leaders should have increased the on-time departure and arrival, put in place strategies that would minimize the delay and mishandling of the passengers’ baggage, and resolve the issues that created customer dissatisfaction.
A feedback system is a strategic tool in improving performance. Cohen (2005) indicates that change management rests on performance review, organizational structure and organizational behaviour. The management of Alaska Airlines used a feedback system to understand how to improve customer loyalty and satisfaction. The feedback system is critical in ensuring that the organization understands customers’ concerns and integrates their responses into the strategies it develops. For this reason, Minicucci implemented the report cards that captured the operational metrics of employees on an hourly basis (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). The quantitative approach provided details on the operational challenges and contributed to the strategic direction to change the process. Therefore, the report cards helped coordinate metrics and aligned them to the companies’ goals, focusing on the particular areas that suffered performance. As a result, stakeholders used data from the report card to engage in strategies that motivated the employees and streamlined the operational processes to realize a highly customer-centric organization. The basis of change in the organization dwelt on these perspectives.
Leading change relies on communication. The management of Alaska Airlines realized the need to implement the strategies they laid out by building a communication process. All stakeholders in the change management process need to understand the correlation between different metrics and data to achieve shared value. All stakeholders communicated with each other, developed a team spirit, fostered their interpersonal relationships, and achieved organizational change goals (Avolio, Patterson, Baker, 2015). Maintaining positive interpersonal relationships and sustaining open communication helps in allowing stakeholders, employees and leaders to pursue organizational change. For this reason, Minicucci insisted on developing a framework where team members work together to realize business excellence in Alaska.
Part Two: Development Change Plan
The change plan would follow Kotler’s 8-Steps implementing the model. The model allows Alaska Airlines to create a sense of urgency and sustain the change process.
Creating a Sense of Urgency
Alaska Airlines should follow three essential steps to establish a sense of urgency. Organizations need to identify gaps between organizational performance and its desired outcome (Laig and Abocejo 2021). The principle of creating a sense of urgency rests on effective communication. Therefore Alaska Airlines should gain ration buy-in, use market trends and finance data to detail the issue. Moreover, the organization should gain emotional buy-in through stakeholder engagement to motivate them into supporting the change initiatives. If these two steps are not successful, Alaska Airlines must support all stakeholders such as employees and managers through teamwork and collaboration.
Creating the Guiding Coalition
The principle of guiding a collation is to consolidate teams of leaders that would propel the success of the organizational change. Change implementation requires collaboration (Franken, Edwards and Lambert 2009). The most appropriate team that Alaska Airlines should use in forming a guiding coalition is highly motivated and talented employees who influence their peers, are skilled in their expertise and possess leadership qualities (Kotter 1995). Teams guide the rest of the organization in maintaining a shared sense of responsibility. Therefore, they will ensure that stakeholders show emotional commitment, collaboration and trust to the change initiative of addressing the delays, mishandling of passenger bags and motivating the employees. Team guide organizational change based on the characteristics that form positive attired towards the organizational success.
Forming a Strategic Vision
The driver for the change process is the vision. The ability of Alaska Airline to steer in the right directions require a shared vision that is creative and rational. The vision for addressing structural and operational challenges in the airline needs to be based on facts and comprehensive analysis of outcomes of achieving customer satisfaction. Therefore, Alaska Airlines needs to establish a vision that is futuristic, clear and paints the picture of the organization in five to ten years. The vision must compel all stakeholders to achieve feasible goals realistically. The leadership should ensure that the vision can make the stakeholders visualize the need for change and the outcomes of the change initiatives. As a result, the change team will inspire and motivate the entire organization in supporting the change process.
Communication plays a significant role in guiding the change process. Candid and open communication is critical in guiding different stakeholders towards collaborations (Kotter 1995). Communication is the ingredient for supporting the vision through stakeholder engagement and continuous dialogue. All cases of accountability and the efforts of leaders to mobilize commitment for change can happen due to successful communication. Therefore, Alaska Airlines should communicate the vision for employee buy-in, address resistance and uncertainty elements, and encourage feedback. All these support the change initiatives in the organization. Consistent communication between different players is critical in inspiring and motivating others on the change process. Communication should ensure that everybody in the organization participates in the change process from forming the matrix team, communicating the vision, engaging the stakeholders and determining the direction of change management.
Enabling Action to Remove the Barrier
The change process involves the mechanism of empowering employees. Different challenges occur when implementing the change process (Kotter 1995). Therefore, leaders need to enable employees to take action in leading change. Breaking down the barriers that prevent the stakeholders from working towards change is critical in supporting organizational change. Thus, the leaders in Alaska Airlines should streamline the organizational culture, address obstacles in the change process, and reduce team interference by isolating groups that are not consistent with the change’s vision.
Generating Short Term Wins
Employees, leaders and stakeholders need to build credibility for sustaining change. The whole team in Alaska Airlines should see that their efforts in implementing change are succeeding. According to Kotter (1995), the effectiveness of creating enthusiasm and a sense of accomplishment is to continue the change process. Short term wins motivate the leaders in adjusting the change plan and positioning the company for success. Alaska Airlines needs to allocate a sufficient budget to support the teams in monitoring the progress and tracking the improvements.
The primary indicator for the change process is sustained acceleration. Leaders in Alaska Airline needs to demonstrate that they have implemented a system that can maintain the process of change. The organization should put mechanisms for monitoring the process, achieving the momentum of change and aligning key performance indicators on critical operational areas. The feedback process becomes instrumental in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the change team in accelerating the change initiative.
Implementing change is analogous to changing the behaviour of people, employees and stakeholders to fit in the change visions. Alaska Airlines should effectively change its organizational culture around performance and customer satisfaction by rewarding employees to demonstrate the desired behaviour.
The change plan outline mechanisms through which Alaska airline will streamline its business process. The airline experiences process of working through the operational low. The rationale for change depicts the desire of the airline to initiate transformational strategies through a change plan. As a result, the change plan for the airline builds on Kotler’s eight steps to address the challenges of reduced efficiency and productivity. The uncertainties that Alaska Airlines experienced made change management an imperative process. Leaders, change agents and managers should introduce and execute successful change programs in the organizations. The foundation of the change follows a transformation in organizational culture. Therefore, there is a need to introduce knowledge that dislodge the past beliefs and perceptions in Alaska Airlines. The inherent problems and limitations that Alaska Airlines faced require a business strategy that would help initiate changes to improve service efficiencies.
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