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Nuggets from Southwest

I'm about halfway through with Nuts: Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success by Kevin and Jackie Frieberg. The book details the history of the company and the different steps taken along the way to make it succeed from a financial and service standpoint. Here are some highlights:

According to Southwest's corporate philosophy, bureaucracy exhausts the entrepreneurial spirit, slows the organization down, and constrains its competitive position. That is, bureaucracy creates a mindset of dependency, which makes people do what they are told, but no more. Rather than encouraging employees to assume ownership and responsibility, bureaucracy teaches them to transfer responsibility. (page 76)

The more adaptable a company is, the more freedom it has to seize opportunities that come with change. In this sense, adaptable does not mean wishy-washy or undisciplined; it means open to influence and refusing to get locked into one way of doing things. Like the ligaments of an athlete who hasn't stretched, a company that is rigid and inflexible often tears. (pages 84)

Southwest can open a station in a new city faster than anyone in the industry. When Southwest decided to expand into Little Rock, a competitor tried to preempt the company by announcing that it was going into Little Rock in a compressed time frame. Forty-eight hours after that announcement, Southwest people flew to Little Rock and quickly obtained a sublease on all available gates from Continental Airlines. Within ten days, Southwest had put together a schedule, laid cable and installed computer equipment, acquired airplanes, and decorated ticket counters. When the competing airline showed up in Little Rock, it was shocked to find that the gates had already been secured by Southwest....Five days after Southwest initiated service, it had 25 percent of the Little Rock-Dallas market. (pages 91-92)

People will automatically assume ownership for protecting the right to be engaged in work that gives them a sense of meaning and significance. Why? Because there's a tremendous amount of spiritual, emotional, and psychic gratification that comes from meaningful work. (page 105)