Good to Great Airport – The Road Map

A good article written by 

Discussing transition (change) and its consequences is common. You will find it in management books, in corporate training calendars and it is favorite of all board room discussions. With so much of knowledge about change it should not fail even one time but that does not happen. Most of the change programs die their natural death. Let’s forget everything you’ve ever learnt about change and achieving great results. Because you need to realize that nearly all manuals for creating large-scale corporate change are nothing but repository of assumptions.

1st Assumption – You need a Program: This approach comes with the launch event, the tag line, and the cascading activities.

2nd Assumption – Go to Death Bed to Cure Your Knee Pain: This one says that change starts only when there’s a crisis that persuades “unmotivated” employees to accept the need for change.

3rd Assumption – Money Can Buy Everything:

Stock options, high salaries, and bonuses are incentives that grease the wheels of change.

4th Assumption – The Fear: Fear of being left behind, the fear of watching others win, the fear of presiding over monumental failure—all are drivers of change, we’re told.

5th Assumption – Acquisitions: You can buy your way to growth, so it figures that you can buy your way to greatness.

6th Assumption – Only Technology can Change: The breakthrough that you’re looking for can be achieved by using technology to leapfrog the competition.

7th Assumption – Its Painful: Big change has to be wrenching, extreme, painful—one big, discontinuous, shattering break.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Completely wrong.

Here are the facts of life about these and other change assumptions. Companies that make the change from good to great have no name for their transformation—and absolutely no program. They neither rant nor rave about a crisis—and they don’t manufacture one where none exists. They don’t “motivate” people—their people are self-motivated. There’s no evidence of a connection between money and change mastery. And fear doesn’t drive change—but it does perpetuate mediocrity. Nor can acquisitions provide a stimulus for greatness: Two mediocrities never make one great company. Technology is certainly important—but it comes into play only after change has already begun. And as for the final myth, dramatic results do not come from dramatic process—not if you want them to last, anyway. A serious revolution, one that feels like a revolution to those going through it, is highly unlikely to bring about a sustainable leap from being good to being great.

In each of those dramatic, remarkable, good-to-great corporate transformations, one same thing was found: There was no miracle moment. Instead, a down-to-earth, pragmatic, committed-to-excellence process—a framework—kept each company, its leaders, and its people on track for the long haul.

Let’s explore two important factors from the “Good to Great” gene companies – committed to excellence process and a framework and now we will use them as base line for our “GOOD to GREAT” Airport framework.

Uniqueness of Airport Processes:

Industries have different varieties of commodities as input and output for their processes. In case of Airport, they deal with most complex commodity on the earth – HUMAN, commonly known as Passenger. Each agency at Airport (they are independently managed entities) directly or indirectly works for Passenger. In all Airport key processes input and output is either passenger or “for passenger”.

Arrival Passenger:

The Baggage Battle: On arrival, passenger feet stop at only one point – Baggage belt and any inefficiency in baggage delivery can change the entire prospect. If you ask an Airport agency they could explain 100 complexities of baggage process. On the other hand passengers want to leave the Airport fastest way possible. Hence this will be on top of the list of “GOOD to GREAT Airport” transformation tool kit.

Departing Passenger:

For an Airport the process of “PASSENGER DEPARTURE” starts when passenger approach to Airport and stops at passenger boarding. We will be covering from Airport Gate Entry to SHA clearance in our blog.


Then we will talk about “Aircraft Turnaround” process, its impact on passenger movement and Airport performance.

In all this we need to remember fundamentals of the airport business (ref my previous blog). There are many other supporting processes but we will park them for later discussion.


Special thanks to Mr. Jim Collins for his great work, discussing change could not be this easy and interesting without referring his book. AND now the routine lines: Thoughts presented in this series are result of various readings, learning from Aviation Gurus and experience gained while working on improvement projects. I welcome your feedback and ideas for further improving the content to make it more relevant for the Industry and also promise some valuable information in future blogs of this series.