This Is London, Dublin. Organisation Development.

Case Study

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) 'Shaping the Future' Programme

The Challenge

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) runs Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports , providing gateways to Ireland, as well as an international subsidiary Aer Rianta International which operates in many countries around the world. Whilst its major shareholder is the government, it operates as a semi- state company, and is required to run commercially.


The DAA has responsibility for one of the biggest and most exciting infrastructure projects in Ireland, an ambitious €2bn plan to transform Dublin Airport.  This plan has at its heart the development of passenger capacity through building a new terminal and runway.


It was realised at the outset that such a large capital investment required a planned programme to build the organisational capability to implement the changes necessary and prepare people for operating in a more sophisticated and demanding environment. 

What we did

This Is began working in partnership with the DAA Chief Executive, the HR Director and the DAA Executive team in 2005. Work started before planning permission had been granted for the new terminal and well before any building had taken place.


A systematic programme of organisation and leadership development was put into  place, 'Shaping the Future'  which  led to the following activities:;


  • The Executive Team met off site to clarify their strategic direction and developed a Vision, Mission and Values (VMV) for the changing organisation.
  • A series of off - site quarterly 'management cadre' full day workshops was launched in February 2006. to ensure that the top 100 senior managers understood the vision and were really well connected to the business.
  • A balanced scorecard was designed and introduced, translating the VMV and DAA's strategic objectives into understandable activities, objectives and targets.
  • The performance management system was revamped to ensure that individual objectives were aligned with the DAA scorecard. Reward and recognition systems were linked with reinforcing performance and values.
  • The organisation structure was reviewed to identify gaps, areas of unclear accountability, and new requirements. Some structural changes were made
  • The Executive Team initiated systematic talent reviews identifying high potential individuals, developing career plans for key people to ensure they were placed in the most important jobs, and assessing requirements for external recruitment. Graduate recruitment development was revitalised
  • A set of seven leadership competencies was designed to reflect the challenges modern airport leadership , for example the need for strategic thinking , stakeholder and relationship management, and leading others
  • A change network was set up of talented and motivated senior and middle managers who were interested in communicating the change process across the organisation. The network serves as a sounding board for change and has also carried out a number of important cross functional business improvement projects across DAA
  • A major focus in 2009 is on providing targeted leadership development and training opportunities for all senior and middle managers in line with the leadership competencies and requirements of the business.


Since the programme started, the organisation has consistently delivered on its business objectives including the delivery on time/on budget of physical infrastructure.


Organisation change has been monitored using the organisation diagnostic survey tool, the Verax Organisation Transition Inventory (OTI), which not only tracks change but benchmarks against other organisations.  There has been a consistent pattern of improvement in the scores over three years of measurement with an overall improvement of 26 percentile points relative to benchmarks, a considerable movement.


The DAA experience shows how an investment in upgrading organisation and leadership can be made at the same time as an investment in infrastructure. As Declan Collier the Chief Executive says: "Transforming the airport means transforming the infrastructure, transforming the organisation and transforming leadership".


Further Reading

You can read more about this programme in 'Shaping the Future, by Terri Morrissey and Richard Plenty in Airport World, July 2008


Terri and Richard have recently interviewed airport CEOs on how they see the future

see Airport World April 2009