Author: Sandra Lonsbury, Managing Director, Sirius Aviation Limited
Management of Change

Change is a Constant Factor

Managing change is a constant and familiar factor in the Aviation industry. Most of the required steps in effective change management could be perceived as no more than common sense or good business management, however in the ever-changing and often challenging day-to-day operations of our organisations these essential elements are often overlooked.

Areas of change in an organisation normally fall into three main categories:

  • Business restructure (Deep or Transformational change) linked to organisational changes such as business rationalisation, new products and services introduction or business merger and acquisition
  • Technological change refers to the process of implementation of new software, tools or equipment linked to operational processes
  • Incremental change - this is normally associated with minor system changes that would be undertaken through project initiative at a department level.

For any change management program to be successful it is essential to clearly communicate the initiative to all tier management levels in the company, and to identify changes and promote benefits to the business process. Questions and challenges to ask yourself and team responsible for the change cycle:

  • Is the proposed change needed?
  • What is the optimal speed of the change proposed?
  • What is your strategy and implementation plan?
  • What are your key objectives?
  • What are your measures of success?
  • What are the demonstrable benefits to the organisation?
  • What is the down side, negatives linked to the proposed change?
  • How are you preparing staff for the change?
  • Is the proposed change in line with company values and commercial strategy?

Where do you begin?

Management of Change (MoC) helps ensure that the safety and continuity of the business is maintained during change and provides a systematic risk based approach and formal process to implementing change. It is crucial that all changes are managed to truly understand the risk and impact to the operation. Therefore, if one follows the PDCA (plan, do, check, and act) model, a solid plan can be developed and implemented. This translates to; define the change, risk management, assurance, plan and implement.

ICAO doc 9859 provides a specific management of change framework which can be categorised into four phases.

Those involved in leading the process will need to clearly demonstrate why the change is being brought about and the benefits that it will bring. When defining the change, it is useful to consider the following areas that bring about change and would require a structured MoC process to be followed:

  • Organisational changes (e.g. personnel or staffing changes)
  • Activity changes (e.g. changes to processes, equipment, infrastructure, software, materials)
  • Changes to the operational & safety management systems (e.g. procedures).

The aim of a structured management of change process is to provide a controlled approach to delivering the change ensuring that the consequences of such a change does not pose a threat to company operations, pose a risk to individuals or groups, and that the safety, security of operations are maintained.

Whether major or minor, all aspects of the change must be covered and analysed. This will ensure that changes to procedures or work practices have been registered, hazards identified, risks assessed, and control measures implemented to manage any Health, Safety or Environmental impact of the change before implementation.

A detailed action plan should be created listing the individual tasks, responsible person(s) timeframe for completion and dependencies. If the project is a large multi departmental change it is useful to subdivide the plan into areas of responsibility with the nominated Project Manager having overarching responsibility for oversight of the implementation.

It is essential to establish a formal process for review and input when implementing the project. The Project Plan created in Phase 3 forms the basis for ensuring the project is implemented and controlled as designed. It is a living document and will be used until the change is fully implemented.


Effective change is the result of good planning and execution addressing all the principle factors associated with the change from People, Process and Organisation. In summary the key drivers for success depend on:

  • Sponsorship and ongoing support: How will you secure, engage and use high-level support and sponsorship of the change?
  • Addressing the human element: Who is best positioned to help your team design and implement the change? What leadership style will be used? How are you going to be inclusive? How are you ensuring participation and involvement and employee buy-in? Change is most effective when you are able to win support from people across the business. How do you plan to achieve this?
  • Communication strategy: Needs to ensure that it covers all levels of the operation and internal and external stakeholders
  • Change impact and success factors: What are the success criteria? How will performance be measured? What goals do you need to achieve?

There are many tools available to successfully implement MoC within your operation. However, whatever tools you choose, keep the following steps in mind to help you to implement change in a positive and appropriate manner:

  • Ensure that everyone involved in the changes understands what needs to happen and how it affects themes
  • Agree success criteria and ensure they are regularly measured and reported
  • Map and identify all of the key stakeholders that will be involved in the change and define their involvement
  • Identify training needs that must be addressed to implement the change
  • Appoint Change Agents who will be the change champions and help put the new practices in place and act as role models during the change
  • Find ways to change employee habits, so that new practices become the new norm
  • Support everyone!

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