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Case Code: CLHR060
Case Length: 7 pages 
Period: 2018-2020
Pub Date: 2020
Teaching Note: Available
Subject : Human Resources/ Organization Behavior
Organization :WestJet
Industry :Transport & Logistics
Countries : Canada

WestJet Uses #hackinthehangar to be Future Ready



The case ‘WestJet Uses #hackinthehangar to be Future Ready’ describes the various initiatives taken by the management of the Calgary, Canada-based airline WestJet to prepare itself for the future. WestJet recognized the need for embracing digital technologies to streamline its operations and customer experience as it sought to transform itself from a budget carrier into a global network airline. The company’s management also realized that despite the regulations, the airline industry was bound to be disrupted by digital technologies. The management understood that unless it embraced change and a working culture that supported change, it would not be able to shift from the traditional airline culture. Toward this end, WestJet hired Alfredo C. Tan (Alfredo) who had rich experience working with some of the most disruptive online technology firms, including Facebook, in media sales, internet marketing. and online advertising. Alfredo was given the role of Chief Digital and Innovation Officer and was tasked with leading WestJet’s existing digital team at its Calgary headquarters. Within weeks of joining WestJet, he was asked to develop digital solutions that would streamline the flying experience of premium travelers. This proved to be a challenge as Alfredo was new to the company and his team lacked the requisite skills to develop state-of-the-art solutions in a short time. He needed to find a way to show the top management that WestJet’s employees could solve customers’ problems in a better way and co-create new experiences. In addition, he needed to gain the respect of the global tech community and inspire them to partner with WestJet in their digital and innovation mandate and co-create the future of travel. Alfredo came up with the idea of a hackathon that was a common approach used in the tech industry to ideate and come up with creative solutions quickly. In June 2018, #hackinthehangar was held at the Russ White Hangar, Calgary, Canada. The event was attended by nearly 120 designers, software developers and engineers from 17 companies, including Adobe, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Deloitte Digital, Twitter, Panasonic Avionics, and Snapchat; 37 WestJet employees, and 12 of WestJet’s business class travelers. To usher in the hack culture, WestJet also brought in changes to the employee appraisal process to focus only on the outcomes and contribution of the employees, and introduced a remote working culture for the technical team. The case study ends with a note on how learning organizations will evolve in future and the areas in the airline industry that will see the maximum impact of digitization.
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  • Understand the importance of adopting a learning culture in the age of disruption.
  • Learn about strategies that can be adopted by managers to make their companies learning organizations.
  • Understand how digital disruptions will transform customer experience.
  • Gain awareness of the benefits of hackathons.
  • Identify ways to build a hack culture in a traditional organization.
WestJet was established in 1996 by Clive Beddoe in Calgary, Canada, to provide affordable air travel to domestic passengers. The no-frills airline achieved tremendous success within a short time with 1.6 million air travelers opting to fly with it in 1998. The company spread its wings outside Canada by flying to destinations in the US in 2004 and Europe in 2014. In just two decades, WestJet grew to more than 13,000 employees, covering over 100 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Europe and an additional 175 destinations in over 20 countries through partnerships...


Learning Organization, Hackathon, Digital Learning, Organizational Culture, Connectivism, Innovation, Creativity, Ideation, Customer Touch point, Digital Experience, Digital Transformation, Westjet

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