JetBlue Airways & Organizational Development: Partners for Change

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1 March 2016

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This is a case of an effective partnership of Jet Blue Airways and Organizational Development. In the airline business with an unpredictable environment, Jet blue forged a partnership with the Organizational Development (OD) team and JetBlue University (the airlines centralized learning group). From this berthed the Systems Operations Center (SOC) which is the heart of the airline – the epicenter where effective decision making, communication, teamwork, and leadership are critical to ensure crewmembers are able to meet and exceed customer needs (Dennnison, 2007). This case study covers the four general models of planned change which are entering and contracting; diagnosis; planning and implementing; and evaluating and institutionalizing change (Cummings & Worley, 2009). All interventions applied were carefully developed as they interpret the diagnosis of the operations of JetBlue.

And as it progress you will see that the key element on making this a successful and effective OD is the involvement of all the employees and their buy in from the top down management. As you will see that not only that they have implemented the interventions which greatly enhanced the company’s success, it has also institutionalized the changes they have adapted and on On June 8, 2011, JetBlue ranked ‘Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Low Cost Carriers in North America’ by J.D. Power and Associates, a customer satisfaction recognition received for the seventh year in a row.they were awarded they are the number one (Article, 2011).

JetBlue has an impressive and effective partnership with the Organizational Development Team. This is one of the success stories on how to effectively apply and OD Intervention within a company. They have established and institutionalized the process of OD within their business system. The four processes namely: Entering and contacting; diagnosis; planning and implementing; and evaluating and institutionalizing were properly managed and executed. The foundation was set correctly and the shifting of the change concept was embedded in the JetBlue culture. All JetBlue employees are involved and are aware on how OD interventions are applied and how it works. The foundation of the OD intervention is solid and any new interventions that are applied as long as it is carefully reviewed and agreed is flawless. My approach for this case study as an OD practitioner is to review, diagnose, and analyze what the OD practitioner have accomplished and make any changes and recommendations that I believe will further enhance the effectiveness of the OD intervention. I will apply the four model of planned change as I review and/or come up with any additional intervention for the company.

Stage 1 – Entering and Contracting
The OD team did not have a hard time entering into this business contract with JetBlue. All the factors I read in this case study are all in their side. The key concept that is very positive for this intervention is that JetBlue’s organizational culture is that they embrace change. This resulted the decision to help the SOC continuously improve was supported by all within the department and the whole organization. They have implemented an ideal and perfect approach for entering and contracting. Their realization that tomorrow’s operating environment will look very different. They are treating each flight as a different case and they do not base their assumption on old data but always plan for the latest information for each flight. A comprehensive contract was developed by JetBlue and OD team. Both internal and external SOC stakeholders are engaged for this contracting. Their process is flawless and what they call a progressive company that embraces intervention as positive. They have developed a comprehensive contract that outlined the scope of work and established clear roles and expectations. Both sides have agreed on the contract, they will then proceed to the planning process. Recommended change/addition

Upon reviewing Exhibit A, my recommended change is that the SVP of the SOC should be less involved on with the SOC operations. All the key elements are already identified and they have developed a process on how to enter and develop a contract. The stakeholders are already onboard with the OD program and in fact embraced the concept of OD so they should empower the OD team on changes and directly apply to the SOC with stakeholders getting an updated interventions being implemented. They should decentralize this tasking with the SOC, OD team and the crewmembers. By doing this, SVP and stakeholders can focus more on their bigger tasking and responsibilities by projecting and planning for the future of the company. The effectiveness of the Entering and Contracting stage is also apparent in eliminating or planning a course of action on taking out most of the “red flags” such as insufficient level of commitment, resistance or opposition by major stockholders, lack of power or influence and client’s desire to manipulate the consultant. These potential “red flags” were all addressed and resolved (Mitchell, 2006).

It will also be cost effective if they will establish their internal OD team. By having a dedicated team, they will be more focus on the progress of the company. OD is already developed and more than likely, only minor interventions will be implemented to adapt in the ever growing and changing innovation of the global environment.

During contracting, there were no specific goals identified by JetBlue but only to look “under the hood”. I believe the OD approached this as an Organizational process for their plans. Although the contract covered the scope of work, established their respective roles and responsibilities, they have not covered the estimated time needed that is devoted solely for the OD process. They might have missed this step because of the total buy in of JetBlue with change. But the issue might rise if the cost will start escalating or even the timeframe gets extended. Stage 2 – Diagnosis

This is one of the pivotal areas that OD practitioners should be keen in identifying the relevant issues gathered on all data. Obtaining an updated and current data is needed in this ever changing global market. They also have covered this stage as you will read on the case study that they are branded as progressive company which means that they constantly strive for change. Exhibit A if you notice that they added a planning stage on how the intervention will be approached. A thorough data collection will be created as one of the tools to diagnose and approach an intervention.

Exhibit B is the Denison Leadership Development Survey that was used and you can see the positive quantitative results that they have increased their scores in four key areas within eight months of implementation. Summarizing the information captured from the Denison Organizational Culture survey, focus groups and interviews, the OD team came up with five key themes for the company’s strategy development and culture change. The OD consultant also stresses to the leadership team that focusing on a few relevant areas was much more effective which I also totally agree. Recommended change/addition

This case study mentioned that 40 interviews and focus groups were done to gain insight. I would increase the interviews to at least 50% of each division of the company to have a better data analysis on where the top strengths and weaknesses are. I will also make a two to three day session to interpret the data to come up with a more viable and acceptable hypothesis on identifying the themes for the company. The Denison Model gave a quantitative measure of the organizations status. It addressed and identified the two strengths and two weaknesses of the company. And from that diagnosis, coupled with the 40 interviews and focus groups, they have come up with viable goals. Goals that are derived and interpreted from the data they have gathered. Recommended change/addition

If I was the OD practitioner, I would also add questionnaires for the customers, observation and unobtrusive measures. My questionnaires will be designed solely for the customer satisfaction. This is your main business for the company. This is a key factor in increasing your market shares. I would design the questionnaire to draw out what can be improved and any innovative ideas that they want to see what JetBlue can offer. I will focus it on differentiation which will make JetBlue unique from other airlines. This will be a very strong intervention once applied because it directly affects the customers (Kabra, 2006). On my observations, I will be staging some observation sites at the tarmac, ticket counter, customer service, and other key areas of the business. We will observe the people on how they work, how long they work and the conditions on where they work will be some of the factors we will observe. By performing observations, you will witness the actual things that are happening during the operations of the company.

There are a lot of different divisions that makes up an airline business. The crewmembers each have different area of expertise such as stewardess, baggers, pilots, etc. It is very diverse and you need to collect data on all areas. I will also perform unobtrusive measures and study the current structure of the company’s organization and see if we are utilizing and maximizing all the skills, knowledge and abilities of all our crewmembers. From here I will define a benchmark and see what is our competitive edge compared to other airlines. I will also apply unobtrusive measure and establish a benchmark for both internal and external part of the company. This will give me a better approach and measure on what is the real status of the company and you can project stretch goals since this company embraces changes. A challenging and achievable goal for them will be ideal. By applying more measures on Data gathering, you will come up with a better conclusive strengths and weaknesses of the company. You will diagnose and compare your data analysis and strategize a pattern and conclusive evidence that supports each type of data analysis you collected. Stage 3 – Planning and Implementing

This is the crucial stage of the OD process intervention. The critical analysis of the date gathered was thoroughly researched on this project. The planning stage was very effective as they have come up with a strategic approach to achieve their goals. As they OD practitioner finished the strategy, they were able to communicate the strategy to key leaders of the company (Lunenberg, 2010). I agree with the OD team on what happened after the data collection and goal setting. Meetings on each member of the SOC team were held and they were educated on what will be their roles during the intervention. They have minimized the people’s natural reaction on resistance to change. All five themes they came up were communicated effectively throughout the organization. An extensive weekly meeting for the first month was implemented. This is a carefully planned and well executed plan and implantation stage of the OD practitioner. This is a well thought of process that the OD team have covered all the interventions and each goal were further identified with a detailed plan of action of what are the steps needed for the achievement of their goal. And the key for this step by step procedure is the constant meetings and progress check to see how the intervention needs any adjustments or they are within their target goals. The OD practitioner is very well educated and approached this stage strategically.

Recommended change/addition
The two things I would add for the implementation change is the award system and stretch goals. They have instilled the intrinsic rewards for the crewmembers as the OD practitioner came up with an intervention that each crewmember are part of the changes that is happening as they have the quantitative measure of their goal they are achieving. The empowerment was placed with the crewmembers. Adding an extrinsic award system such a Employee of the month, cash bonus, etc., will only reinforce and encouraged each crewmembers for the success of the business. I believe with the buy in of all JetBlue employees, stretch goals for the directors and make it a competitive but friendly approach of stretching the goals for each department/division will not hurt since the culture of the company embraces change. Stage 4 – Evaluating and Institutionalizing

This is a success OD intervention from start to end. The evaluation process was impressive as you can see the success rate of the company. I believe that they have institutionalized the change and they made the OD a part of the company’s culture. They have achieved the OD intervention and as you can see, it has been decentralized and it is now at the lowest level of management. The success of the JetBlue and OD practitioner is evident because of the foundation it has set. You will see that they have accepted this intervention as a new way of doing business. And they even avoided the sense of complacency by having a Culture Change Monitor Survey and a bi-weekly working sessions to execute the plan. They applied the Denison Organizational Culture Survey to assess their strengths and weaknesses. You can see the evidence by having a good foundation and structure on the start of any OD intervention. It will follow a smooth transition from each phase. As you can see that the company was just transitioning from each phase of the OD process and as they evaluate the interventions, all the stakeholders are onboard and willing to improve the company as it is very evident as you read the case study.

Institutionalizing it as you will read is also successful. From the start as the company embraces change, the company and the OD have transitioned change as a norm in their crewmembers view. They look all the changes as a philosophy in their culture that the success and development of their company can only be achieved through continuous improvement. Recommended change/addition

The things I will add on this are annual get together, and recommend new survey system. By having an annual get together, I will implement a banquet type with key speaker to encourage the crewmember and have achievement awards with different categories. This will definitely encourage each crewmember to give their best every time they work.

I would recommend another survey to replace the Denison Organizational Culture Survey in the next two years. Having the same survey yearly might
create complacency and over familiarity of the survey. But if you give them a different survey, they will be able to look at it on a different perspective ad will pay more attention. I would review the current innovation, global market, benchmark the airline business, and their own. I will select and recommend an ideal survey based on the current data gathering I collected.

This is a success story of an OD intervention process. Ad JetBlue have embraced the changes, careful planning by the OD team as they enter the contracting was very effective. It is a very effective approach as they have identified almost all of the requirements to enter a contract.

Data gathering and analysis have resulted in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the company. Goals were derived from the weaknesses and step by step approach designed to achieve each goal. Communication is evident as the key factor on the planning and implementation change. Each key leader are involved and updated on the planned intervention. All crewmembers that were involved were trained, educated, and made aware of what’s the plan and how will it be implemented. The empowerment were correctly applied which in my opinion is pivotal for their success.

Evaluation and institutionalization is already evident as you read the case study that it was a continuous process that their company has embraced. They have the system set in place and monitoring was in place to ensure upward progress is tracked. I can find no other way to conclude the success of this OD intervention but to quote the case study verbatim “the case study states as follows “The SOC leadership team owns the process and the culture of the department, making the OD team’s involvement very low and leadership’s involvement very high. No longer is the kind of work that resulted from this project considered additional duties that leadership “must” perform. Because the OD consultant set the foundation from the beginning by delegating key tasks to stakeholders, having clear sponsorship and having responsible leaders, a mindset shift has occurred – the idea that creating a high performing culture is part of every leader’s job.” As an OD, this should
always be the ultimate goal on all your interventions.

Exhibit A – Project Overview

Exhibit B – Denison Leadership Development Survey

Exhibit C – Changes over Time

Exhibit D – JetBlue Airways & Organizational Development: Partners for Change

Cummings, G., Worley C.G., (2009). Organizational Development and Change. Ohio: South-Western Cengage Learning. Dennison consulting, (2007, Jun). JetBlue Airways & Organizational Development: Partners for Change. Retrieved from JetBlue Airways, (2011, June). JetBlue Awarded Seventh Consecutive Customer Satisfaction J.D. Power and Associates Honor. Retrieved from Mitchell, R.C., (2006, July). Model of the Organization Development Process. Retrieved from Kabra, R., (2006, September). Virgin Atlantic – Gap Analysis. Retrieved from Lunenberg, F. C., (2010, November). Organizational Development: Implementing Planned Change. Retrieved from,%20Fred%20C.%20Organizational%20Development%20Implementing%20Planned%20Change%20IJMBA,%20V13%20N1%202010.pdf

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StudyScroll. (2016). JetBlue Airways & Organizational Development: Partners for Change [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 2 October, 2023]

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"JetBlue Airways & Organizational Development: Partners for Change" StudyScroll, Mar 1, 2016.

"JetBlue Airways & Organizational Development: Partners for Change" StudyScroll, 1-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 2-Oct-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). JetBlue Airways & Organizational Development: Partners for Change. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 2-Oct-2023]

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