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British Airways Case Study

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1. From each change perspective, what are the key issues to understanding the wildcat strike? From an OD perspective, the leadership at BA failed in a number of areas. They did not communicate properly, they ignored the temperature of the relationship with employees, and they were shortsighted in implementing the change. This was evident in the lack of sense in implementing a change at the front of the busiest season of the year. They did not properly manage the change and in fact ignored most all areas of change management: they did not prepare employees, they did not communicate, they did not nurture employees through the change, nor did they reinforce the change and the reasons for it. From a contingency standpoint – they did not have one. As a result, customers suffered and the company lost millions. Their processes were ineffective and upper management was not informed enough to understand the consequences of their actions.

2. Assume that you have been retained as a change consultant by BA management to advise them on how to avoid such a situation in the future. What lessons emerge from each perspective and what recommendations would you draw from each in constructing your advice to BA management? If appropriate, role-play the presentation of this advice to senior management of BA. Me to leadership at BA: “In the future, I recommend you work to get the pulse of your employees. It must not only be middle management that understands the barriers and frustrations of employees, but executive leadership should also be part of that conversation. When making changes it is important to examine the sense of the change: is this good in the long run or just a quick fix? Once that is know you must look at the impact of the change both from a cost perspective as well as a human capital perspective. If possible, allow employees to be a part of the decision making process in the form of surveys, committees, and open communication. This will ensure more buy-in. Once you decide to implement the change, inform employees and provide detailed information on what it will look like.

Explain the reasons for the change and the intended outcome. Guide employees through the change process and encourage acceptance. Work with employees to reinforce the change so it is not fleeting but becomes part of the culture. Plan for what you will do if the change fails or a problem arises as did in this case. Look at risk management and determine your actions should a contingency be necessary. Finally, establish sound processes for all aspects of the change from decision making to implementation to follow-up.” 3. Is there one change perspective, or a combination of change perspectives, that provides the best way of understanding the swipe card issues? Why? I think change management and sense-making are key here. Had the leadership taken the time to determine if the proposed change made sense they would have realized the timing was off and could be damaging.

If they had handled the change through change management they would have properly prepared employees when they finally did decide to implement the change and made it less sudden and shocking. Further, employees would have had a better sense of the reason for the change and not filled in the blanks with their own fears. 4. What broad conclusions emerge from this analysis. A seemingly small change can be extremely damaging and have consequences far beyond those which one anticipates. In this case, a change thought to only affect workforce management resulted in a steep decline in customer service, loss of customer loyalty, and loss of profits. It broke existing employee trust, which is very difficult to regain. It created a loss of credibility for company leadership.

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