Case study

Culture Transformation

The challenge

Airservices is a government-owned organisation providing services to the aviation industry. It manages air traffic operations for over 90 million passengers on more than 4 million flights every year, covering 11 percent of the world’s airspace. Services include: the provision of aeronautical data, telecommunications, navigation services and aviation rescue firefighting services. The company employs more than 4,000 staff, with approximately 1,000 air traffic controllers working from two major centres in Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as 29 towers at international and regional airports.

Airservices was facing an unusually large number of challenges when it approached Walking the Talk. Including a 60% increase of air traffic movements by 2030, a large capital infrastructure program, increasing environmental concerns, the development and implementation of a world-first navigation system, and an ageing workforce.

 Airline services - by numbers

The organisation realised that it needed to do things differently in order to successfully meet those challenges, as the existing culture was either slowing down the change process or making it very hard. A broad culture transformation process was necessary.

The approach

The culture program we implemented for Airservices included the following three streams of work, which took place simultaneously:

 Airline services - streams

Stream 1: Manage Culture

To establish a baseline of data and design a program addressing the organisation’s most needed cultural shifts, we conducted the following activities:

  • In-depth culture assessment of the entire organisation using Walking the Talk’s Discover methodology and our six cultural archetypes. This helped identify the drivers of the current culture.
  • Identification of the business imperatives for culture with the Executive Team.
  • Target culture definition.
  • Metrics and scorecard design.
  • Culture Plan development for Year 1 using our Pathfinder process – A team of culture champions was trained and taken through a process which identified the levers for change that could be exercised, to initiate the culture change and deliver a return on investment. This included the identification of key target behaviours.
  • Implementation of the plan – Initiatives identified had a broad impact, from HR practices to cross-collaboration and customer definition.
  • Year 1 Plan review and Year 2 Plan development.

Stream 2: Lead Culture

It was crucial to align the Executive Team and the Senior Leaders with the culture work undertaken by the organisation. We found that a combination of education and intact-team worked best in this context.

  • LSI 360 degree instrument in conjunction with one-on-one coaching. Coaching was instrumental in helping executives realise the impact their own behaviours had on leading the organisation’s culture.
  • Cross-functional feedback process using LSI data.
  • Intact-team alignment workshops to foster more openness, trust, and alignment of the team around the key behaviours and the target culture.
  • The team workshops were cascaded down to the middle management of the organisation (600 staff).

Stream 3: Influence Culture

We worked closely with key people in the organisation to influence the culture from within and design a program for the whole business.

  • Identification and training of a number of culture champions who were used for activities including culture planning, culture plan implementation and co-facilitation of key behaviour program.
  • We designed a behavioural change program around the three key behaviours that were identified by Airservices as the most critical to shift, and took the 4,500 employees through the program.

The results

As the culture of Airservices started to shift, the staff and stakeholders experienced the following main changes:

  • The organisation’s leadership aligned themselves around the desired culture, which they started to role model and advocate for. The awareness level of culture and the impact of one’s behaviours increased dramatically.
  • Increase in the three target archetypes, with a noticeable change in customer-centricity – All staff are now aligned on who the customer is and have identified their line-of-sight to the customer, as well as how to keep adding value. The change in archetype expression was particularly strong in Senior Leaders.
  • Staff express satisfaction with Airservices’ approach to culture and the level of energy, hope and commitment increased significantly.

 ASA graph

“The Walking the Talk team have in every way shared our journey. They provided a frame in which to assess, plan and change our culture. They expertly guided and consistently provided support to enable Airservices to lead our own transformation."

"While change, particular on an organisational scale, is an inevitably long and arduous journey, the Walking the Talk team have enabled us to shift and create momentum towards the type of organisation we need to be to meet our challenges. While the theory of managing, leading and influencing culture is readily grasped by most, the actual 'doing' is the hard thing and that's where Walking the Talk have provided a framework and support to allow us to put work on culture into action.”
Craig Oakley, Implementation Lead, Our People - Our Future. Airservices Culture Program


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