Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The language problem

Strategic and operational managers often communicate with difficulties, as they do not speak the same language. The activities of these two groups, supported by the measures they use, create a chasm of misunderstanding. Frontline managers, often immersed in details, are generally more concerned with quick daily fixes through things like schedule recovery, or staff absenteeism. They are not in a position to fully understand the effects their decisions have on other parts of the organisation and, most importantly, on airline costs. Senior managers, however, tend to be more concerned about financial performance measures like costs and profits – information that is not contained in operational reports. In the absence of good information links between strategy and operations, airline executives are rarely aware about the true reasons of operational problems that may require their attention, including those caused (unknowingly) by their own decisions. These hidden causes of disruptions are among the most costly ones, as they systematically disrupt the daily schedules. At the operational level, all efforts are directed at improving operational performance within the boundaries of the existing system. But, who is it that decides how to best align the characteristics of the operational environment with business and organisational goals?