Monday, March 4, 2013

The 3D View

What does pavement art and the electron microscope have in common? Both show visual effects in 3D. Thanks to the work of Nobel Prize Physicist Dénes Gabor et al, the prismatic effect of light and paint can be used to create illlusions, enlarged images and even rainbow holograms on our credit cards (Toal, 2012). When Professor Andy Neely* was describing the prismatic effect however, he was not at a seminar in physics, or art. He was describing innovative methods of performance measurement in organizations.

Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of dust, magnification (22 x 10^6)
How can we measure organizational performance in ATC? Is it necessary? The word measurement is synonymous with capacity, analysis and evaluation. Any activity, program or operation that effects change to an organization should be measured. It is a way of gathering feedback on the practicality of investing in these changes (Page et al, 2006). 
It is also a means of determining whether adjustments should be made and if a plan needs reformulation to derive more benefit or to increase the marginal returns to the particular strategy. Note that we are measuring the introduction of activities, programs or operations which is very different or dichotomous to evaluation of employees.  The size of the local ATC organization and the fact that it is a highly specialised, service industry are not suitable disqualifying factors for performance measurement. One example of measuring organizational performance in ATC involves the use of a prismatic ruler.   

In Physics, to create the 3D effect, light from an image is separated, reflected, and reorganized, based on the principle of light diffraction from a prism. Similarly, the Performance Prism is used to examine the WHO, the WHAT, and the HOW; our 3D effect of any activity, program or operation that brings about change to ATC. From the diagram below, we see that it has 5 interrelated faces just as a real prism (Neely, 2001). Each side represents a feature in the measuring process. Thus, in examining the 3D effect, ATC organizations will want to ask themselves the following questions: -

WHO are the stakeholders and what do they want from this organization?
WHAT are the strategies we require to satisfy the stakeholders?
WHAT are the processes we have to put in place in order to deliver those strategies?
WHAT are the capabilities we require to operate our processes? 
HOW can we (every employee, not one person or a group) benefit from the stakeholders or derive value from the stakeholders and even attract other stakeholders

We cannot view our ATC units in 3D if only the Chief Executive Officers know the policy and the aims of the local organization. In strategic management, every employee knows and is aware of what the immediate goals for March 2013 are, and how they will be acheived. At some appropriate time in 2014, every employee and members of the general public will know what the strategic objectives were for the annual period 2012 - 2013 and whether those goals were met. 
We also cannot view our organizational performance in 3D if we do not have a complementary database with the appropriate data. We will need to compute statistical analyses, graphs and use these results to supplement our evaluation.

The prismatic ruler for organizational performance is ideally suited for ATC organizations because it allows for the role of stakeholders, given the fact that the majority of ATC organizations receive financial allocation, or technical assistance or support from governments, MNCs, other local ATC organizations and other subsidiaries of the avaition community.   
Helping stakeholders to understand the role of ATC is just as important as properly negotiating with them.  Flawed negotiations at the outset inevitably leads to problems in meeting strategic objectives. We set strategic objectives that are SMARTERS: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely, ethical, recordable and should satisfy not only the strategic vision of the local ATC organization but also the visions on regional and global levels (Meyer, 2003).
What are some examples worth measuring at the organizational level? Any plan - an activity, program or operation that brings about changes. These events include training, new equipment, the implementation of the new Flight Plan Format, methods of PBN, reorientation and rearranging of staff. Introducing these plans is the beginning and the easiest part of strategic management. The real test of organizational efficiency is being able to demonstrate the WHO, the WHAT, and the HOW aspects of a plan; to view ATC in 3D using the Performance Prism

*Director, Cambridge Service Alliance, UK

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