Webinar on Strategic Development

David Boenitz, Director of Business Planning for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority presented San Diego Airport’s approach to strategic plan developments. Key elements include enabling legislation, mission, vision & value, environmental  and economic scan, sustainability commitments, master and capital plans, bond disclosures & covenants, airline & tenant agreements and community commitments in a three-step process: from setting direction, priority and alignment; to planning and implementation; and followed by results and feedback step. Some of the lessons learned included enrolling, enthusing and educating employees, as well as having executives set priorities, resolve conflicts and barriers, establish targets, send consistent and coherent messages, and provide rewards, recognition and ongoing support.

Tom Driedger, Senior Manager of Strategic Planning, of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) presented on GTAA’s brand journey - a five-step process that includes brand distillation, brand definition, brand development, brand delivery, and brand nurturing. According to Tom, GTAA was in the government phase up to 1996, the Construction Company between 1996 and 2006, the Operating Company in 2006-2010 and will evolve to become a “Customer Centric Company” focused on innovation from 2011. Tom offered some tips to other airports that are about to start the strategic planning process:

  • Paint a picture of the vision and set high level goals/targets early in the process
  • Build a flexible plan based on scenarios and risk assessment
  • Use surveys, focus groups and workshops to secure input and engage stakeholders
  • Make strategy meaningful to people in their roles
  • Establish sound program management processes to ensure delivery
  • Strategy formulation is a demanding and extended process
  • Developing the strategic plan is the easy part, giving it life and managing it is the real challenge
  • The senior management team needs to stay focused on strategy continually

Chris Poinsatte, EVP and CFO of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport addressed DFW’s leadership system for strategic alignment and engagement, DFW’s strategic plan, annual work plan and budget, measurement/scorecards, and incentive compensation. Lessons learned from the DFW experience include:

  • The CEO must be committed to the development of the Strategic Plan
  • Use a facilitator as it is too easy for a strong personality to dominate the process
  • The more levels of management involved in the process, the more likely for employee buy-in and future achievement of strategic goals
  • Plan on six months to a year to develop the first Strategic Plan and major updates
  • The plan should include performance metrics for all areas to establish quantifiable goals for success
  • All employees should be trained on the most important elements of the Plan

Chris believes that strategic planning is just one element of a Leadership System. It needs to be supported by a financial plan, master plan, and capital plan. It should include long-range KPIs for each objective and drive annual work plan and budget with important goals cascaded to management’s and employee’s goals and objectives. The incentive compensation should focus leadership on the most important goals.

The next webinar, to be scheduled for early September, on “Strategy Deployment” will be to illustrate how strategies are implemented and measured. This would give the holistic/closed loop perspective on strategy. If you are interested in joining the Airport Best Practices Forum, please contact Liying Gu at lgu@aci-na.org