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PPF – Putting People First

  • In the mid 80s, British Airways had completed a major cost cutting exercise, including labour shedding, and was starting to be profitable again

  • Bosses Lord King and Sir Colin Marshal decided that a complete change of attitude towards customers, both internal and external, was then needed by all staff at all levels and in all departments, not just staff on the front-line

  • The famous two-day PPF course was the solution – we devised and delivered the second day of the course using upmarket venues such as the ‘Rose Room’ at Twickenham rugby ground

  • 150 to 200 employees at a time were invited to each session, and thousands attended overall

  • Day 1 covered personal aims, stress, positive and negative strokes, relationships and attitudes – it was provided by a separate HR consultancy but found to be too heavy-going by many of the people attending

  • Day 2 was all about customers, their expectations of BA and possible ways to improve the quality and service levels offered them – it had to be motivational and memorable, not just a day of listen-and-learn lectures, so those attending had to be very much involved:

    • Senior managers stood up and spoke about long term aims plus any changes planned and why they were needed

    • They had to be well tutored first

    • Employees liked to hear from their bosses – it was not the norm

    • Our role was to facilitate the day, and keep it moving and interesting

  • Details of the process are shown below

PPF - Putting People First

  • Sir Colin Marshall, CEO of BA at the time, said of the course: “We set out to show people their own attitudes towards the customer, and towards their own colleagues, in turn affected the way in which their customers saw them – it was simple, understandable and convincing, and as we had expected, suspicion soon turned to enthusiasm among the thousands of staff who took the course”

  • Other big companies then followed suit

  • Both days showed they also cared for their troops – they enjoyed it, met internal neighbour teams, many for the first time, and came to better appreciate external customers’ requirements and internal customers’ problems, many of which they had been causing









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