'Warrior Spirit with a Servant's Hear...

'Warrior Spirit with a Servant's Heart': SWA's Thriving Culture...

There are 26 comments on the Knowledge@@W.P. Carey story from May 24, 2006, titled 'Warrior Spirit with a Servant's Heart': SWA's Thriving Culture.... In it, Knowledge@@W.P. Carey reports that:

Southwest Airlines is not the same airline that David Ridley, recently retired as vice president of marketing and sales, joined in 1988.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Knowledge@@W.P. Carey.

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Musician

Orange Park, FL

#1 May 24, 2006
I know Dave and worked with his department when I was there. The most important quote in the whole article is this ...

"Ridley said that when he arrived at Southwest, pundits warned that the company's profitable customer-centric culture would be difficult if not impossible to maintain when its payroll passed 10,000. But instead of allowing that to happen, company president Colleen Barrett created a culture committee whose mission was to keep the Southwest way alive throughout growth."

People are now predicting that Southwest can't continue to do what it does with 32,000 employees. The same people have been predicting Southwest's demise since before they flew their first flight .... hmmmmm??
LeftRightSkyFly

United States

#2 May 26, 2006
I wonder if the Carrington scenario (1 year post 9/11, female passenger rushed the cockpit, attacked flight attendant, arrested in El Paso, sued, won and was awarded $27.5m) would have even gone to trial if the situation was investigated like Dave said. Don't belive everything that comes out of Dallas, like Mr. Ridley.
Musician

Orange Park, FL

#3 May 26, 2006
LeftRightSkyFly wrote:
I wonder if the Carrington scenario (1 year post 9/11, female passenger rushed the cockpit, attacked flight attendant, arrested in El Paso, sued, won and was awarded $27.5m) would have even gone to trial if the situation was investigated like Dave said. Don't belive everything that comes out of Dallas, like Mr. Ridley.
I wonder why people who do really stupid things like try to get into the cockpit of a plane in the post-9/11 world think they deserve anything less than to be arrested and questioned.

I wonder how many articles have been written about the unique, employee-centric culture at Southwest.

I wonder how many books have used Southwest's culture and business model as patterns for success.

I wonder how many colleges and universities have business classes that use Southwest as a case study for entrepreneurship.

I wonder how many awards Southwest and its leaders have won for business acumen and civic responsibility.

I wonder why nearly every airline in the U.S. is trying to be more like Southwest.

I wonder how many airlines would do just about anything to have Southwest's records for profits and customer service.

But mostly, I wonder people want to choose isolated incidents and try to make a case that they are the norm instead of the very rare exception.
AAer

Dallas, TX

#4 May 26, 2006
I wonder how much you're paid to write this stuff.:o)
Musician wrote:
<quoted text>
I wonder why people who do really stupid things like try to get into the cockpit of a plane in the post-9/11 world think they deserve anything less than to be arrested and questioned.
I wonder how many articles have been written about the unique, employee-centric culture at Southwest.
I wonder how many books have used Southwest's culture and business model as patterns for success.
I wonder how many colleges and universities have business classes that use Southwest as a case study for entrepreneurship.
I wonder how many awards Southwest and its leaders have won for business acumen and civic responsibility.
I wonder why nearly every airline in the U.S. is trying to be more like Southwest.
I wonder how many airlines would do just about anything to have Southwest's records for profits and customer service.
But mostly, I wonder people want to choose isolated incidents and try to make a case that they are the norm instead of the very rare exception.
Musician

Orange Park, FL

#5 May 26, 2006
AAer wrote:
I wonder how much you're paid to write this stuff.:o)
<quoted text>
That's the best part. I get nothing except the satisfaction of pointing out what I think are clearly exaggerations, distortions, and untruths.

Have a good holiday :-) I hope both WN and AA make a ton of money from the long weekend of travel.
Interested in SF

San Francisco, CA

#6 May 26, 2006
AAer wrote:
I wonder how much you're paid to write this stuff.:o)
<quoted text>
Certainly you're not suggesting that anything "Musician" in Garland TX wrote is erroneous. He's right on. SW's success speaks for itself, no need for sour grapes.
AAer

Dallas, TX

#7 May 26, 2006
Yahoo! Yes, I believe we'll have an extremely good summer in general too...and profitable. All the hard work will finally pay off!
Musician wrote:
<quoted text>
That's the best part. I get nothing except the satisfaction of pointing out what I think are clearly exaggerations, distortions, and untruths.
Have a good holiday :-) I hope both WN and AA make a ton of money from the long weekend of travel.
congaleader2000

AOL

#8 May 26, 2006
even those noisy aging MD 80's might break even out of Love...
AAer

Dallas, TX

#9 May 26, 2006
Sour grapes are good for whine!

Musician and I have gone back and forth many times....we like to poke fun at each other. He's in true LUV...my heAArt is at AA.

I would be foolish not to recognize WN's success...but it will be interesting to see how the industry unfolds in the next few years with WN's fuel hedges going away...and their labor agreeements becoming amendable in the next few years. They are the only consistently profitable airline, their labor is the highest paid in the industry already (that will mean richer contracts)... many airline analysts are predicting a significant jump in costs for them.

They seem to be moving more in the direction of what traditional carriers have done...it comes with being a more mature airline..with aging employees who are higher paid, looking for new markets to go after...etc. It will be interesting to see WN's own brand of what a mature airline will look like. What do you think? DAL-LHR with just a bag of peanuts??:-)
Interested in SF wrote:
<quoted text>
Certainly you're not suggesting that anything "Musician" in Garland TX wrote is erroneous. He's right on. SW's success speaks for itself, no need for sour grapes.
Corl

Lodi, CA

#10 May 26, 2006
AAer wrote:
I would be foolish not to recognize WN's success...but it will be interesting to see how the industry unfolds in the next few years ....
Absolutely agree with you, AAer!(Geez, who ever thought I'd say that???!)

The hope for SWA's future is to align the success of the employees with the success of the company. Additionally, SWA has to continue to provide intangible benefits, such as actually being a place that people look forward to going to work!

I LUV SWA and do enjoy going to work. Still, I like my days off and would lilke to continue to fly my 70-80 hrs/month in 11 or 12 days rather than dragging it out over more of the calendar!:-)
Musician

Grand Prairie, TX

#11 May 28, 2006
AAer wrote:
Sour grapes are good for whine!
Musician and I have gone back and forth many times....we like to poke fun at each other. He's in true LUV...my heAArt is at AA.
I would be foolish not to recognize WN's success...but it will be interesting to see how the industry unfolds in the next few years with WN's fuel hedges going away...and their labor agreeements becoming amendable in the next few years. They are the only consistently profitable airline, their labor is the highest paid in the industry already (that will mean richer contracts)... many airline analysts are predicting a significant jump in costs for them.
They seem to be moving more in the direction of what traditional carriers have done...it comes with being a more mature airline..with aging employees who are higher paid, looking for new markets to go after...etc. It will be interesting to see WN's own brand of what a mature airline will look like. What do you think? DAL-LHR with just a bag of peanuts??:-)
<quoted text>
First ... my comments are mostly based on facts, not LUV. When I state opinions, I try to provide logical, reasonable arguments.
Second ... people have been trying to say WN can't keep it's low-cost status for years. Have you even read the article "Southwest's magic formula: low costs, low fares and high pay" included in this forum? Here are some quotes ...
"Adjusted for flight length, Southwest's cost ratio is almost half the industry average. And excluding fuel, Southwest's costs have hardly moved in the past five years."
That's today, not 5 or 10 years ago.
"In mid-2002, Southwest had almost 91 employees for every airplane; today it has fewer than 70."
That's a 23% DECREASE in four years by just being more efficient, not by filing or threatening bankruptcy to force employees to accept massive wages cuts.
"[WN's] pilots fly an average of almost 65 hours per month; the industry average is 53."
That's a 23% more efficient use of your highest paid employees.
"Southwest planes were in the air an average of 11 hours, 25 minutes per day last year (up from 11 hours, nine minutes in 2003). The industry average is slightly under 10 hours."
That a 15% more efficient use of your most expensive assets.
"The average Southwest plane carries 19,300 passengers a year, compared with 11,700, the industry average."
Even when you take plane size into account, that's pretty impressive.
Southwest doesn't have the highest paid employees in the industry because they have give extravagant raises year after year; they have them because the rest of the industry has forced massive cuts on their employees, along with massive layoffs, over the past five years. However, one segemt of WN's employees aren't the highest paid ... their executive management. Hmmmm.
Exactly which of those facts has Southwest going the way of the traditional carriers.
Southwest is getting more efficient by the day, not less ... Southwest is going the way of Southwest ... the legacies are trying, with mixed results, to go the way of Southwest, but they have sowed so much 'ill will' with their employees, it will be a long time before they will recover for that.
The recents claims from AA's FAs about misrepresentation by AA mgmt shows they still have a long way to go to gain employee trust and confidence, although I believe they are really trying to do better.
Musician

United States

#12 May 28, 2006
One more thing ...

A lot of Southwest detractors like to think, and like to say, that Southwest is going away from its core values. If you take a look at the Southwest Mission Statement, you'll see that Southwest's core values have nothing to do with flying planes ... that is secondary.

"The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.

To Our Employees ...
We are committed to provide our employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer."

Doing these things is the foundation that has made them successful for 35 years and will continue to do so.
Corl

San Diego, CA

#13 May 28, 2006
Musician wrote:
If you take a look at the Southwest Mission Statement, you'll see that Southwest's core values have nothing to do with flying planes ... that is secondary.
We've been saying for years that as long as Southwest never becomes a "real airline" it will be ok. Real airlines are unpleasant places to work and lose a lot of money. SWA's mantra is that it is a customer service business that just happens to own a lot of airplanes. Keep that in the forefront and life continues with a smile.
AAer

Dallas, TX

#14 May 30, 2006
Believe it or not I have a few friends that work at WN (and we actually talk!) They've indicated they are seeing more of the "corporate" attitudes associated with larger co's beginning to show. It's inevitable, I guess....when you get to be the size of WN. Not sure if it has anything to do with the recent turnover of the senior leadership...or just the plain old growth.

Always interested in watching to see how they deal with it.
Corl wrote:
<quoted text>
We've been saying for years that as long as Southwest never becomes a "real airline" it will be ok. Real airlines are unpleasant places to work and lose a lot of money. SWA's mantra is that it is a customer service business that just happens to own a lot of airplanes. Keep that in the forefront and life continues with a smile.
StarbucksShareho lder

United States

#15 May 30, 2006
Your arguement that this (Carrington lawsuit) is an isolated incident is a weak attempt to veil the fact that senior management has knifed the rank and file worker in the back in this case. They are smart enough to understand management will not back them up but rather throw them under the bus for appearances sake. The airline seems to be more interested in being politically correct than pursuing the truth at the risk of alienating passengers. Sad.
Musician

Orange Park, FL

#16 May 30, 2006
AAer wrote:
Believe it or not I have a few friends that work at WN (and we actually talk!) They've indicated they are seeing more of the "corporate" attitudes associated with larger co's beginning to show. It's inevitable, I guess....when you get to be the size of WN. Not sure if it has anything to do with the recent turnover of the senior leadership...or just the plain old growth.
Always interested in watching to see how they deal with it.
<quoted text>
What exactly are "the 'corporate' attitudes associated with larger co's"?

I have no idea what that means. Do you?

Herb is still the Chairman.

Colleen is still the President.

Gary, who has been with the company for 20 years, is CEO.

Donna Conover, who has been with WN since 1977, is VP or Customer Operations.

Greg Crum, who started with WN is 1979, is VP or Flight Ops.

Daryl Krause, who has been with WN since 1979, is VP of In Flight.

Greg Wells, with WN since 1981, is VP of Ground Ops.

I could name a dozen more, but the point is, there is no "turnover" in leadership at WN. Instead, there is a carefully planned succession of "home grown" leaders who have shown that they understand and believe in the principles of "servant leadership" and the "golden rule."

You repeatly try to imply that WN is "slipping" or "faultering" by saying "it's inevitable." But when I list facts about WN's performance, you ignore them and come back with more vague generalities.

So ... I restate my previous question, "Exactly which of those facts [stated in my Sunday comment] has Southwest going the way of the traditional carriers.
Musician

Orange Park, FL

#17 May 30, 2006
StarbucksShareholder wrote:
Your arguement that this (Carrington lawsuit) is an isolated incident is a weak attempt to veil the fact that senior management has knifed the rank and file worker in the back in this case. They are smart enough to understand management will not back them up but rather throw them under the bus for appearances sake. The airline seems to be more interested in being politically correct than pursuing the truth at the risk of alienating passengers. Sad.
It is an isolated incident. If not, name another similar case.

My comments don't veil anything. Perhaps there were mistakes made in the early days of this 3-year-old case, but if you read recent articles, Southwest management is now openly supportive of its rank and file in this case.

The bottom line in this case is that anyone who makes threats, or attempts, to enter the cockpit in a post-9/11 world should at the very least be arrested and questioned. Anything else that happens related to the case is insignificant in comparison.

A friend of mine talked with one of the El Paso lawyers in the case who said the case was settled on personalities, not on the facts of the incident. I suspect the appeals court will be more objective.
StarbucksShareho lder

United States

#18 May 30, 2006
Calling your employees liars and publicly smearing their names as Ms. Barrett did in her now infamous letter doesn't do anything to support your case, Musician. Indeed, it may be the kicker in the jury's decision to award such a big amount. Regardless of what happens in the lawsuit, her actions illustrate the whole 'we got your back' thing are simply empty words. I wonder if she has tried to make ammends with those employees she has maligned.

>>My comments don't veil anything. Perhaps there were mistakes made >>in the early days of this 3-year-old case, but if you read recent >>articles, Southwest management is now openly supportive of its >>rank and file in this case
AAer

Dallas, TX

#19 May 30, 2006
You protect LUV like a mother bear with her cub! I can always count on flurry of facts from you musician....I think you somehow think I wish WN bad...I don't! I believe it will be interesting to see how WN has to change given the changing environment...their size...and their having (by necessity) to go into different markets (and marketing). The growth that they've seen getting into the smaller airports and point-to-point traffic..is quickly drying up.

BTW...I like the fact that you attempted to illude to the fact that WN's management someone is paid far less than other airlines. It looks like they are pretty well compensated. If you'd like to put in AA search after this...you'll the overall compensation was more than AA's top exec management in 2004.

http://swz.salary.com/execcomp/layoutscripts/...
Musician wrote:
<quoted text>
First ... my comments are mostly based on facts, not LUV. When I state opinions, I try to provide logical, reasonable arguments.
Second ... people have been trying to say WN can't keep it's low-cost status for years. Have you even read the article "Southwest's magic formula: low costs, low fares and high pay" included in this forum? Here are some quotes ...
"Adjusted for flight length, Southwest's cost ratio is almost half the industry average. And excluding fuel, Southwest's costs have hardly moved in the past five years."
That's today, not 5 or 10 years ago.
"In mid-2002, Southwest had almost 91 employees for every airplane; today it has fewer than 70."
That's a 23% DECREASE in four years by just being more efficient, not by filing or threatening bankruptcy to force employees to accept massive wages cuts.
"[WN's] pilots fly an average of almost 65 hours per month; the industry average is 53."
That's a 23% more efficient use of your highest paid employees.
"Southwest planes were in the air an average of 11 hours, 25 minutes per day last year (up from 11 hours, nine minutes in 2003). The industry average is slightly under 10 hours."
That a 15% more efficient use of your most expensive assets.
"The average Southwest plane carries 19,300 passengers a year, compared with 11,700, the industry average."
Even when you take plane size into account, that's pretty impressive.
Southwest doesn't have the highest paid employees in the industry because they have give extravagant raises year after year; they have them because the rest of the industry has forced massive cuts on their employees, along with massive layoffs, over the past five years. However, one segemt of WN's employees aren't the highest paid ... their executive management. Hmmmm.
Exactly which of those facts has Southwest going the way of the traditional carriers.
Southwest is getting more efficient by the day, not less ... Southwest is going the way of Southwest ... the legacies are trying, with mixed results, to go the way of Southwest, but they have sowed so much 'ill will' with their employees, it will be a long time before they will recover for that.
The recents claims from AA's FAs about misrepresentation by AA mgmt shows they still have a long way to go to gain employee trust and confidence, although I believe they are really trying to do better.
Musician

Orange Park, FL

#20 May 30, 2006
StarbucksShareholder wrote:
Calling your employees liars and publicly smearing their names as Ms. Barrett did in her now infamous letter doesn't do anything to support your case, Musician. Indeed, it may be the kicker in the jury's decision to award such a big amount. Regardless of what happens in the lawsuit, her actions illustrate the whole 'we got your back' thing are simply empty words. I wonder if she has tried to make ammends with those employees she has maligned.
>>My comments don't veil anything. Perhaps there were mistakes made >>in the early days of this 3-year-old case, but if you read recent >>articles, Southwest management is now openly supportive of its >>rank and file in this case
I could be wrong, but you sound like you have a personal stake in this somehow.

Anyway ... was her letter intended to be public? I don't think it was.

According to a lawyer in the courtroom, the "kicker" was that the jury didn't like one of the witnesses ... not the facts.

You did not cite another similar case/situation, so I guess you agree it is an isolated/rare case. I don't know, but I suspect, as I implied earlier, Colleen realizes she made a mistake early on … three years ago. She usually corrects mistakes.

One of the most recent statements quoted in USA Today was "Southwest denies its flight attendants did anything wrong and intends to appeal the verdict, spokesman Ed Stewart said, "We stand by our actions," Stewart said. Ed Stewart works in SWA Corportate Communication, one of the several groups that is under Colleen.

I am not trying to say SWA or Colleen don't make mistakes, but a mistake, even if it's a big one, doesn't erase 35 years of doing a lot of thing right.

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