Come Fly With Me
I don't fly often - maybe once or twice a year. But I'm always on edge, waiting to see what's going to go wrong; flight delay, gate change, missed connection. Some people at my workplace fly a lot. Today's lunchroom discussion centered on how the airline industry has lost its focus. The brother of one of my co-workers is a pilot who is rankled by the complaints. "Listen, I get you from point A to point B. End of story," he says. "That's the problem!" our president cried, "they think they're in the transportation business!" I returned to my Newsweek to find an editorial titled "How to Build a Happy Company" from a former AOL vice-chairman. He quotes Charles Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine, who said that "business originated to bring happiness." The editorial goes on to describe AOL's downturn when its corporate philosophy became centered on bigger financial returns rather than producing a quality product.
This reminded my yet again of the 'Parable of the Drill'. The gist of the parable is that all companies should be in the "happy business" no matter what else they do.
Next week my mother, my wife and I will be flying Southwest Airlines from Syracuse to Tucson. I've never flown this airline but, from what I've read, it's different. It's not only the amusing "Bags Fly Free" ad campaign (I do hope I see those guys with the painted chests). SW has always encouraged the public to tell them what it thinks. Their web site has a forum where passengers offer suggestions and lodge complaints, and they post the bad as well as the good. There's also a web community for posting pictures and videos and a Facebook page with more than 780,000 fans. On their YouTube page you can watch videos of how the painted-chest "Battle Cry" ad was made. Maybe this is their "gimmick" -- to seem hipper and friendlier than other airlines, but I think this company gets the Parable.
C'mon, Southwest, don't let me down. Make us happy!