High Performance Organization

Topics: Southwest Airlines, Airline, Low-cost carrier Pages: 10 (3251 words) Published: October 14, 2005
Southwest Airlines
A High Performance Organization

American companies, even the most successful ones, are facing challenges that require fundamental rethinking of the workplace. For the leaders of this change, whether a CEO, mid-level manager, or team leader, these challenges also call for a redefinition of their roles. The global marketplace has changed the rules of the game forever. Southwest Airline strives to create an organization that is flexible, adaptable and highly productive. Recognizing that competitive firms can no longer compete on the basis of price alone, Southwest Airline is focusing its organizational strategies on customer service and quality to gain a competitive advantage. To realize the full potential of their workers, Southwest Airline leaders are redesigning workplaces and work practices to enhance the skill, autonomy, and responsibility of their workers. Implementing such change will require a style of leadership that goes far beyond anything they have experienced in the past. What is high performance organization? High performance organizations must be designed to flexible, very flat to minimize bureaucracy, highly productive and able to transform themselves overnight to meet any unexpected turbulence (Putnam, Howard). They must be nimble and quick just like SWAT teams. It is no longer possible to provide every service that every citizen asks for. Southwest Airlines focus on simplicity, high productivity of people, of facilities and aircraft, shorten process times and be the lowest cost operator in the industry. Southwest Airlines also hired attitudes and taught them skills to fit their businesses. Its culture supported the business and vision and outstanding customer service and profitability were the results. The entire organization and all employees, shared in the recognition and profitability. That is a powerful motivator in high performance organizations, and government must innovate concepts in that arena as well. The model has worked for Southwest Airlines for years and they have been profitable every year. They have thrived through every down cycle due to their low costs, high performing organization and value proposition that consumers understands and eagerly purchase. One of the key responsibilities of a leader is to drive the vision home to all constituents and take complexity out of the decision making process. Performance results when people believe and belong. However, an article leader to leader by Jeffrey Pfeffer stated that leaders of successful organizations, such as Whole Food products, Men's Warehouse, and AES Corporation see its role as systems architects, engaged in the critical task of building values, cultures, and a set of management practices that enable the recruitment, retention, development, and motivation of outstanding people. They also engage in the important work of building work practices that ensure that ides of all people become known and used. High performance workplaces integrate workplace and workforce practices with broad business strategies. They encourage worker input in all aspects of the company and invest in training and opportunities for continuous learning. Southwest Airlines is a high performance organization and the five components of HPO will discuss separately throughout the paper. When observing a high performance organization, two of the five major components are total quality management and organizational learning. When worked with the other components, employee involvement, self-directing work teams, and integrated technology; a high performance organization is conceived. Total quality management is the commitment to quality results, striving to improve the organization, and meeting the consumer's needs. In order to fulfill the needs of total quality management an organization must provide organizational learning. Organizational learning is the process of acquiring knowledge or skills and applying them to the overall objective of...

References: Advertising Age, July 11, 2005 v76 i26 p8, Southwest Rings $20 mil with Killer App, Mathew Creamer
Aviation News Volume 1 Issue 1 April 2004, Goodyear Cost Effective Radials Selected to Outfit New, Low Cost Carrier
E-Week, Southwest Airlines: High Tech, Low Cost, Tom Steinert, April 10, 2005
IDC, Analyze the Future, May 2003, Network Appliance Simplifies Backup and Recovery for Oracle Database at Southwest Airlines, Robert C, Gray
Leader to Leader Institute, No. 8, Spring 1998, The Real Keys to High Performance, Jeffery Pfeffer
McNulty, S. 2001, October 20, Southwest Airlines: Short on frills, big on moral
Promo, May 24, 2005, Southwest Airlines Ceases Online Bonus Credit, Amy Johannes
Vault, September 2000, Best Practices Case Study: Best Perks, Southwest Airlines
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