Dr Richard Plenty and Terri Morrissey provide their thoughts on: Investing in your organisation.


Investment in infrastructure is vitally important in enabling airports to accommodate passenger growth and improve the quality of their passengers’ experience. Brand-new facilities can make an enormous difference to the aesthetics and ‘look and feel’ of an airport, the efficiency of transit, and the cost- effectiveness of the operation. 

But a modern airport operated by an outdated, old fashioned workforce is liable to disappoint. Simply constructing and building new facilities, important though this is, won’t in itself create a high-performing, efficient, customer- focused organisation. 

To do that requires a parallel investment – not in ‘things’ but in organisation, leadership and human capital. New facilities can provide the opportunity to review and streamline work processes and organisational structure, to identify and progress the careers of talented individuals and to ensure that people are trained from the outset to work effectively. 

Most importantly it provides the opportunity to transform organisation culture and promulgate a customer focus and ‘delivery’ mindset driven by engaged and motivated staff.

Where are the principal areas for human capital investment? We see three priorities:

  • Review organisation structure and processes. Use the trigger of new investment to ensure that organisational processes are ‘lean’ and fit for purpose, that organisation hierarchy is minimised, staff are given autonomy, responsibility and meaningful roles, and that costs are kept to a minimum. Team working is important: restrictive practices and strict demarcation hamper customer focus and delivery mindset.

  • Take a close look at your talent. Make sure that you attract and recruit people not just with the right technical skills but with positive attitudes, the ability to work well with others and the intelligence to understand the ‘big picture’. Then provide them with training and development to enhance their leadership, business and interpersonal skills and ensure they understand the organisation as a whole.

  • Revamp the performance management system. Take the opportunity to review your vision, values and strategic objectives. Ensure these are properly communicated and that there is a clear line of sight between the overall strategy and both individual and team objectives. Recognise those who perform well and manage those that don’t.



To do all this properly requires investment in project teams, structured staff involvement, industrial and employee relations skills, training, and external expertise and facilitation. But, if you are spending many millions on investment in new facilities, ‘hundreds of thousands’ on human capital is money well spent.    

Transforming an airport means transforming the organisation and its leadership as well as its infrastructure. It’s two journeys, not one.

About the authors

Terri Morrissey and Dr Richard Plenty are directors of This Is... They can be contacted at

Article originally published in Airport World Magazine October 20, 2014.

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Dr. Richard Plenty
Managing Director of This Is
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Terri Morrissey
Founding Director of This Is
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