Case study: Jomo Kenyatta Airport

When Michael Joseph was Chairman of Airport Management at Jomo Kenyatta Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, one of his acts was to resolve the local community’s complaint about noise pollution at night. Joseph sought to find a way to solve the issue through systems thinking, through effectively understanding the perspectives of all the stakeholders involved. He knew that they’d have to make a change to the landing procedure and divert aircraft to a longer runway in order to reduce compression braking. As a result, the airline companies, their employees and passengers, and the environment would be affected—since the plane would have to use a longer route which meant more time, more fuel and more emissions.

Coming with the mindfulness to consider different perspectives, Joseph looked at the problem through a lens of effectiveness, of engaging, mutual understanding. He saw that air traffic control would need to adjust their instructions and signals. As a result of this change, the pilots would need to significantly reduce the aircraft’s speed whilst still in the air so that by the time they touched the ground they’d only need to brake for a short distance. Joseph knew that should the airlines refuse the change then the entire process would break down. So by engaging the local community, the Airline Companies, the Central business district and the National Environmental Agency, constructively, the Airport Management group were able to derive consensus.

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