As I read this case above, I was just amazed at how effective SWA has implemented its strategy and operating style from the beginning of its operation back in June 18, 1971 flying with only three Boeing 737 aircraft at Love Field in Dallas, Texas, and now has over 200 of them, the only type of aircraft it flies, as competition of course was challenging to SWA with major airlines companies such as USAir, United, Continental, American, etc. back in the mid-1980’s, however when these latter made a number of marketing and service mistakes that made them retreated from challenge, SW saw and seized opportunity to expand its business as much as it became the leading airline in passenger boardings in 1993, and I would say to the present as it is one of the best domestic airlines nowadays due to the low fare and the simple frequent flights it operates with.  

As we notice, Stanford Graduate School of Business did a tremendous job and thorough case study on analyzing SWA organizational structure from top management to lower levels in the company, pointing out the most important strength that characterizes the success of SWA which undoubtedly rests with people since it was built around people working together with a common goal to deliver great customer service, and to have fun as well, that is better known as SW spirit. So we clearly see that for SWA its people really are the most valuable assets, since they have cultivated for decades a system “highly people-oriented company” that accounts for its success by developing not only an affective commitment on its workforce that leads to a greater job satisfaction, but also by promising its commitment to work-family balance. This is how SWA gets to meet their external customers’ needs by treating its employees as internal customers as well as they meet high standards from within.  This case clearly shows how a company can prosper just by imitating SW’s competitive advantage as it is very easy to do so; however according to the case every company that tries has failed. Why? Because I believe that a competitive advantage in a technology field is without doubt imitable, whereas people’s strengths are much more ambiguous and difficult to imitate as we can’t identify what makes people special. I am big on bullet points, therefore I broke down the main ideas I took away from this fascinating case study of SWA to better understand it, so see below what I summarized:

  1. Leadership at SWA: Herb Kelleher, CEO: inspires a citizenship behavior in the organization as people enjoy what they do; people enjoy their boss, aggressive, underdog spirit, listens to employees, fixes their problems, hands on, promotes party to have fun, and gets his job done!
  2. Operating strategy at SWA: 737s aircraft the only type it operates therefore it simplifies the job by saving on maintenance and training costs; keeps simple frequent flyer system, low fares, low costs, frequent flights, no meal service, no assigned seating, etc.
  3. Competitive advantage at SWA: it is its people; highly people-oriented process, employees are treated as internal customers which boost customer service, etc.
  4. People department at SWA: employees are their own bosses which enables them to make educated decisions in pro of the customers well being to keep them happy, increase revenues, support the growth,  preserve the values and maintain the special culture of SWA.
  5. Recruiting at SWA: they take the position that attitude can’t be changed,  therefore if you don’t have a good attitude they don’t want you, they look for extroverts, great personalities, service attitude, problem solvers, very few MBAs, etc.
  6. Training at SWA: they train their people from within, so they don’t sponsor schooling or tuition reimbursement program, they also bring burnt-out  high seniority people in and ask them questions to improve the work processes.
  7. The work force at SWA: the company is 89 percent unionized, 80 to 90 percent of the employees own stock in the company, young and diverse work force, the turnover is low.
  8. The spirit of SWA: spirit of growth, help one another, family, service, hard work, fun, commitment, trust, etc.
  9. The competitive threat of SWA: Continental, United, and many other airline companies try to rip southwest business model but they have failed at it since they have a scant culture and attitude toward their people’s needs and wants, and why not toward the customer service from within.  

In summary, I took away a whole lot of great real life situations from this case, and what is best, an example of an outstanding organization that is leading the airline businesses effectively nowadays.

This article along with the previous one: To a United Pilot… are highly related to one another as they both describe the importance of gaining an organizational commitment of our workers which is key that is going to lead them to invest that extra mile on the job, as a result they are going to have not only a greater level of job satisfaction, but also they are going to increase the company’s overall financial performance. Therefore, as the author said: “truly engaging them can have an almost magical effect on the bottom line”, and why not in our customer relationships. Thus, we are seeing more and more organizations nowadays trying to combine these two attitudes: job satisfaction and organizational commitment among their employees as “the companies lure new recruits by pledging their devotion to work-family balance”, the author pointed out. However, personally I believe this process of combining these two attitudes is going to still take a while to start seeing some changes in the workplace, since we spend most of our time at work and just don’t see this happen in the real life whereas our bosses are turning into a real big number guys where all that matters is results, and at some point that is understandable since they have to keep costs down, consequently they are sacrificing the most capable and valuable strength that is people. For this reason, up until we adopt a more people-oriented organizational system from within, until then we are going to experience a commitment of our employees such that they are going to be happier and more engaged. Great article by the way!

This is a great article that clearly expresses the importance of providing an excellence customer service as competing fairly and in accordance with the highest standards in all of the customer relationships, as customer service is undoubtedly a core value for all organizations nowadays, because without customers businesses wouldn’t simply exist in the market. However, how can a large company be able to providing that high quality service in today’s dynamic and changing business environment that meets its customer needs? Well, any type of organization is built around people, the strength of any type of organization is its people working together with a common purpose, and the most valuable assets for any type of organization are loyal and capable people, therefore for an organization to be known for its excellent customer service, each employee must meet high standards from within. This is exactly what Capt. Flanagan did at United Airlines Corporation; an outstanding example of a loyal and capable employee that always surpassed the flight attendants expectations as representing his own standards more than the company was back in 2007. To boost customer service, Capt. Flanagan would snap some pictures out of the fliers pets and then he would show them to the owners; he would raffle unopened bottles of wine, he would write some thank you notes on the back of his business cards to frequent fliers, and so on and so forth, so he would always do a lot of things like those trying to lighten the mood of the flight, and to also preserving customer relationships. What great article!

This is a great post by Bob Sutton, where he basically explains that intelligence, a personality attribute, is something that comes from what we do over the time, and not something that we  were born with. Indeed, the more we believe that intelligence is a malleable characteristic and not a fixed one, the smarter we become by working harder on our goals, on our studies, on our jobs as we hone our intellectual skills which they really are getting us to successful paths. In today’s society still exist a poor mentality, intellectually speaking, in which some people think they are better than other people just because of the way they look, the place they come from, and so on and so forth. That is very selfish and egocentric thought. Therefore, we must never get caught up into the stereotype thing which brings nothing positive but negative and incompetent points of view coming from people who have not realized yet the greatness of diversity. We have to keep in mind that we need to bring into the organization that spirit of willingness to learn, being a team player motivating our employees, encouraging and challenging them and ourselves with new projects, tasks, and goals on a daily basis, because we do not need to be smarter, just different, and difference is really an asset to the organization.

I loved this post by Dweck, where she explains clearly and precisely her arguments about personality and its theories; change, self-beliefs, and interventions, such fundamental elements that certainly we need a strong focus on the study of personality to really try to understand why our employees behave differently from others based on cultural differences, of course, and in which personality plays out such essential role for the organizations as it is a form of individual difference and our area of discussion herein. I also agree with the author’s words when she points out that beliefs lie at the heart of personality and adaptive functioning and that they give us unique insight into how personality and functioning can be changed. Personality, by definition is a relatively stable set of characteristics that influence an individual’s behavior, consequently we have to learn how to deal with those characteristics in the workplace such as; core self-evaluations, locus of control, self-efficacy, self-esteem, self-monitoring and positive/negative affect because these characteristics affect the individual performance at work, so the more knowledge we have about them the better we are going to work together as an organization.    Therefore, organizations must realize that people are valued and that everyone has different personality that we must respect as well, so is in here where the challenge begins, that is: managing the personality and its beliefs lies in attempting to combat all kinds of prejudices and discrimination since they both are detrimental and they bring nothing but less productivity to the organization. In summary, our role as managers is to identify those personality characteristics and their influences on behaviors so that we can integrate them into the organizational system to establish healthier human relationships from our bosses to our subordinates.

Great post on diversity in the workplace, yet highly important cultural asset in today’s global economy, as I do believe diversity factor really is a multicultural talent as opposed to a liability to any type of organizational structure, because multicultural diversity not only can bring innovation, creativity, but also a new approach to problem-solving and thinking within the organizations. Therefore, as company leaders we must incorporate a wide open culture to diversity (cultural differences) where “diversity is not something on the adges; is not some kind of side issue, is not longer a conversation from a position of weakness, but rather diversity is a conversation from a position of numbers, of strength, of demand or talent innovation. It is the mainstream” (Hewlett). In summary, we must force ourselves to think differently, otherwise change will take a long time, so diversity in all its dimension is absolutely essential for companies today.

What nice and short article, but very true in essence. I totally agree with author Jones’s words as much as I do believe flirting at work is a detrimental and incompetent posture that brings nothing but negative consequences to females who use sexual behavior in the workplace. Flirting or any type provocative sexual behavior is typified as unprofessional, unchallenged, and unacceptable in the work environment because it breaks up the company’s policy, therefore women who usually use these types of demeanors need to be talked with and could find themselves in a very difficult, uncomfortable, and the worst damaging situation that they could ever imagine. However, we all know that these sort of sexual behaviors happen all the time in the work places, and so females that try to be smart by adapting these kinds of behaviors could end up closing up their opportunities of advancement in the companies, and as a result losing up their jobs.

Undoubtedly we have experienced that a whole lot has change in the work world in a very short timeframe with the involvement of women in the workplace, as the author points out. In today’s business world we are witnesses of remarkable contributions women have made to the entire world as they have occupied, in most countries, not only top political leader roles, but also business, cultural, economic, social, intellectual, academic leader positions, etc. where their actions have voice and power, where they are a part of the decision making process that affects people’s well being, where they have the authority to create and delegate policies and rules, and where they can simply shine by proving to themselves they are capable of achieving their dreams once they commit to it. Therefore, women’s participation now plays out such crucial role within the organization that if we intelligently dialog and equally combine both women’s and men’s intellectual human capacities we would definitely turn things around, we would view tremendous changes in the organizational and human behavior, and the best, we would observe things from a different perspective. Meanwhile, women keep climbing up the ladders, and keep getting involved deeper and deeper into the society, so that is something that we men need to applaud and watch out as they go.

What great article by Ronald Alsop, he really made think about those biggest little details which he best describes as the recruiters’ pet peeves (lack of professional skills) that MBA students face right at the interview process, little details with tremendous value that we as an MBA student really need to pay attention on, such as; making the very first five seconds count by displaying an image of professionalism, communicating ideas clearly and precisely in other words being objective, showing outstanding writing and reading skills, listening carefully to the interviewer, and showing a figure of team player as I absolutely believe this latter to be a fundamental skill, because no matter what level of education we have or the position we occupy within the organization, we still have to be able to communicate/persuade with top management to the lower-level employees who do not have the same level of education or perspective.

In summary, to be an MBA student does not necessarily mean we are exempt of making mistakes, on the contrary business leaders really need to foster a culture of fear within the structure of the organizations where we are not afraid of admitting our mistakes, where we are able to show that we are flawed humans, and where we are able to be open to the dialog to every employee regardless the post they occupy within the organizations so that we can grow more healthy work environments and as a result better companies and places to be in.

This is a great article that explains how the top business schools are trying to incorporate the most critical skills an MBA student, manager or leader should acquire and develop throughout the process of learning, such as; communication, integrity, ethics, critical thinking, listening, being a team player, and staying level-headed under stressful situations. I truly believe that there is no academic institution in today’s changing and dynamic business world that embraces all these elements. I believe they are all intangible elements that we grasp as we go out there and face ourselves to the day-to-day real life situations, and as we go on we hone those skills and change our minds, behaviors, personalities, and attitudes towards the way we would face future situations by having acquired a strong grasp of those critical management skills.