The Big Challenge

In the 10 years since San Diego County Regional Airport Authority had separated from the San Diego Port Authority, it had endeavored to flourish. Its most profound challenge was that while its stated vision – mastering the art of airports – was highly aspirational and inspiring, it was not clear and actionable for its people.

Previous attempts at enacting strategic transformational change had encountered significant barriers

Lastly, managers lacked consistency on partnering with employees to embrace and execute the organizational strategy on a consistent basis.

Giving life to the strategy

From leaders to managers, individual contributors, and partners, SDCRAA needed everyone to understand its mission, vision, and strategy, as well as how each person could bring it all to life.

In a nutshell, SDCRAA was looking for a full-scale change approach to help the organization define its future, build an organizational movement, and then create lasting change.

Disruptive Methods



Our Immersive Process

SDCRAA partnered with Root largely based on its Root Change Process, this proven approach included:

  • Interviewing stakeholders to identify gaps in understanding the strategy and goals and bring them to the forefront.
  • Using a Watercooler® sketch to identify the processes, behaviors, and cultural quirks holding the leadership and organization back.
  • Two Root Learning Map® experiences to get the rest of the organization and partners on board with the strategy, vision, and financial realities of operating as both a government agency and a business.
  • Root Compass® Manager Development Program to connect manager skills to drive business results by changing key behaviors.
  • A Customer Experience program for both employees and the authority’s 7,000 partners who were on the front line of the airport every day.
  • Team discussions were followed by a two-hour, cross-functional group discussion that was part Learning Map® experience and part interactive gaming experience.

SDCRAA used regular touch points across the organization to follow up with employees and to ensure the new thinking was embedded in daily actions. There was consistent dialogue between managers and their people, making sustainment more attainable. The goal was to stay connected to the strategy as the Authority grows and find ways to link daily work to the strategy and associated metrics.

The Strategic Vision Takes Flight


  • 350+ SDCRAA employees
  • Nearly 7,000 concessionaires, security personnel, taxi drivers, tour operators, and more
  • Improved productivity
  • Bottom-line and top line increase
  • Increased understanding of how employees bring strategic plan to life from 25% to 66%
  • Increased understanding of strategic plan, including vision, mission, strategies, values, initiatives and actions from 19% to 72%
  • Improved awareness of the impact of many external factors and our industry’s volatility on the airport’s financial performance from 35% to 73%
  • Increased understanding of financial performance at the airport and how individual’s responsibility’s impacts on the performance from 33% to 72%
  • Improved understanding of the hybrid business model they operate under and the financial complexities of the airport from 33% to 73%

More deeply rooted thinking


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