How to successfully transform your organization
How do you keep your head above water in an age of digitalisation and competition from price fighters? How do you transform your organisation with a changed target group? How do you realize this while you can’t grow with your current services and your culture is based on seniority?
Digitisation and a changed target group
Transavia, part of KLM and listed on the stock exchange, has had to adapt to the digitisation of the market, just like any other airline. It is no longer enough to sell seats once a year to large travel organisations, but she now sells them directly online to consumers. The customer can change the ticket up to three hours before departure. This has had a huge impact on the daily processes. Not only does the organisation need to be much more agile than before, it has also been given a different target group. This means that it must respond more actively to market opportunities. If the Dutch women footballteam is in the World Cup Final in Lyon this summer, Transavia must make as many airline tickets to Lyon available as possible within two weeks.
In order to compete with the price fighters in the market, Transavia also has to make substantial savings. While airlines pay for the consequences in process and costs of all environmental factors from a volcano to congestion of passengers at an airport. Passengers hold the airline responsible for this.
At the same time, the company is bound by limited, defined periods during which an aircraft may take off or land while the flight movements at Schiphol, Rotterdam and Eindhoven can no longer grow.
“Marjolein, pilot, 1997”, employees introduce themselves. The year in which they started is essential, because everything is based on their seniority. The longer you work at Transavia, the more rights you have, the bigger the plane and the more salary. This applies to all positions. It is a kind of family in which everyone listens to the family elder.
Moreover, the organisation operates in a highly regulated environment, everything in staff training is focused on safety and the trade union is strong. But Transavia is also a very people-oriented organisation and its employees are very involved. This is particularly helpful in the transformation.
How can we become stronger, smarter and more agile?
The environment requires a flexible organisation that adapts and takes advantage of opportunities. In this culture, Transavia requires new behaviour from all personnel: marketing, sales, pilots, maintenance and cabin personnel. The cabin crew, for example, must ensure that passengers get a positive experience of the flight. They no longer simply hand out meals, but nog they must sell them. That is a fundamentally different role.
The customer first?
Daan Noordeloos, responsible for the transformation, started with the customer. First of all, he had a website built on which passengers order their tickets themselves. He focused the transformation entirely on optimally serving the customer throughout the entire process. The website has 7 million individual visitors per year and is in the top 4 of the best visited ticket booking websites in the Netherlands. The organisation has also started to implement improvement points in the aircraft. That turned out to be quite a challenge; the staff were not immediately enthusiastic.
The first tendency in many organisations is that the top will explain it again. Or ten times. Transavia had invested more than three years of scientific research in the points for improvement. Surely that was well-founded?
Others use their power to force people from the operation through the hierarchy or try to seduce the staff with a reward.
The operation was not impressed. It stood with both feet in reality and that is of no use to such a report. Developing a transformation strategy costs the CEO and the Board of Directors six months or more, in three months they hand it over to the management and in three hours they want to explain it to the operation. But you don’t have to explain it at all, you have to take the people with you.
At that moment Daan Noordeloos called in People Change. A stronger, smarter and more agile organisation depends very much on the people. You can’t program that for Monday morning quarter to ten. Moreover, very committed people are not necessarily the best sellers. How do you teach people to see the transformation more as an opportunity for the company?
I believe that an organization works best if everyone helps with sales, not just the sales department. An airline has people on board for three to eight hours; how do you make use of that? Think of services such as wifi, which make your stay on board pleasant. Passengers are also much more at ease when pilots and cabin crew quietly pass by with a smile instead of rushing or even running. After all, they have authority and their behaviour is passed on to the passengers. A good example of thinking along is a flight attendant who rents out suitcases for baby carriages on his own initiative.
People Change Scan
At the request of Daan Noordeloos we started our People Change Scan in Rotterdam. We held interviews to measure at wich level the people are standing and what they find important. Then we started working with half of the group that was willing to participate.
“What do we do with the people who (at that moment) do not want to” our customers often ask me.
Then I say “Nothing. A part of it turns by itself and you have to say goodbye to another part. Often that last part is better off elsewhere.
With this willing group we have formulated areas for improvement from the operational point of view for the top. Besides the areas for improvement top-down, these areas came bottom-up. Management often finds this the most difficult, but it is essential for the transformation.
It turned out that in the flights to Egypt no ham sandwiches were sold. The cabin crew indicated that it is interesting to adapt the products and services on the plane to the customers, depending on where the flight is going and with whom.
That is what Procurement has to do. Until then, Procurement had focused mainly on cheap sandwiches and the cabin crew felt responsible for the poor sales in flights to Egypt. So, wrongly so.
The caterer can adjust the catering, but that will be more expensive. That is a difficult, but relevant consideration; do you choose to have all your customers order exactly the sandwich of their preference or do you limit yourself to two types of which you sometimes do not sell half? Or something in between? How flexible are you yourself and how flexible are the others in the supply chain, such as suppliers? We are now in the middle of that consideration process.
How do you keep in touch with the organisation?
Such a choice depends on the development phase of an organisation. We distinguish between the seven organisational and leadership cultures. At the highest level, the organisation is as agile as possible. We help organisations develop to one level higher. How do you stay connected with the organisation? Don’t just start with ICT, but take the entire organisation into the transformation and involve the employees from the start.
What does this mean for you?
Give yourself a mark for transformation management based on your own feelings. Then give a mark to the leadership team and finally to the entire organisation. Then ask your environment to give those numbers to the top, the management team and the organisation. Compare the figures and draw your conclusion.
Anonymity increases reliability. Moreover, it is difficult to listen and not to react immediately. With the People Change Scan you quickly have a picture of a large group.
Are you also in a transformation with your company? First try the scan itself to see what it can mean for your organization.