A Change In Direction At Continental Airlines — страница 2

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management? sign in the window of a restaurant. It was a start, as well as a testament to his style of management and to the culture he longed to see at Continental. Bethune spent the next ten days holed up with Greg Brenneman, then a consultant for Continental and now the President and Chief Operating Officer, to come up with a plan to present at the board meeting. Greg?s background was in turning companies around and Gordon quickly recognized his talents in doing just that and wanted his partnership in this turnaround attempt. What an ?attempt? this would be. For this board meeting, Gordon and Greg had ten days to not only make the usual financial and operations presentations but to design a plan that would completely change the direction of a $6 billion corporation. What

Continental Airlines was about to undergo was a monumental change, one which would dismay and delight the critics, the customers, and the employees. For Gordon and Greg, manipulating the numbers was the easy part, changing the hearts and minds of employees who had undergone years and years of different leaders, pay reductions, and distrust was the hard part. The people of an airline are just as much an integral part of the product as the planes themselves. Reengineering was to become the order of the day. Everyone knows that reengineering is about processes. To the great relief of many workers, the focus is taken off of them and put on the work. At that point in time, the employees were just plain skeptical about anyone coming to create ?change.? Change and reengineering thoughts

processes are characteristic of the following types of statements. “Let’s not blame people, let’s look at where the process failed.” “If there is a problem, it’s because the process is broken. The people are doing their best to make it work.” Employees know these things all along, but they are pleased when they have a leader or someone in management whom can bring about change that believes in these ideas. In many ways, not only had the processes failed but so had Continental failed the employees. When a company finally gets a leader who can bring about changes in the processes, improve them, fix them, the employees should be happy. Right? Well, there is a problem. The employees are people and reengineering the processes means change, and people have a lot of

problems with change. The employees of Continental Airlines had already undergone ten changes in ten years and there was little trust with which to work. Any reengineering project that does not factor in the difficulties people have with change and address the change issues in a systematic, structured way, is doomed to fail. Gordon new he was up against these types of odds and took measures to make sure his people knew he was in this with them. Let us take a look at a few states of change in the reengineering process. They are the future, current, and delta states of change as described by Jeaneanne LaMarsh of LaMarsh and Associates. The future state of change involves the idea of wanting a change, but not necessarily the changes in the plan itself. Employees may have their own

ideas about what should change, and this change frequently revolves around someone else changing, not them. For Continental, it involved both. The current state of change involves the thinking that while the new way of working may be much better, employees do not see that there is that much wrong with the current way of working. They may see the way to make things better as just adjusting and manipulating what they do today, not the drastic and wrenching changes in the plan. It can be difficult for them to individually visualize the effect they themselves have to change and the overall effect. In this case, the employees did not have the faith that any change would make the difference, so why bother. They had spent the last ten years trying change after change after change; they

were numb at this point. Finally, the delta state of change involves the new change being viewed as highly desirable, and the current way very unsatisfactory, but the process of going from here to there, the process of changing, looks too hard, will take too much energy, and is confusing and frightening. Moreover, it may appear that there are not enough resources of time, people and money. (LaMarsh) Not to mention, for the Continental Airlines employees, they were too tired and beaten down for yet another change. They wanted someone to show them change, not just talk about it from up high. They needed communication, reinforcement, and reward to get the job done. Companies and people have no choice: they must change to survive. They do have a choice, however, in how they change.