Architect: Analyzing Southwest Airlines
Architect: Analyzing Southwest Airlines
Company’s Strategy: Southwest’s strategy is to improve efficiency in its operations and pass cost saving to its customers by offering them low and competitive prices. Southwest Airlines is dedicated to providing the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company Spirit. Analyze each key element of the company separately based on the congruence Model
Organization Structure (Formal Structure): The organization of Southwest Airlines is best described as an upside-down pyramid – an organization very much in line with the way they want to do business. The upper management is at the bottom and supports the front line employees, who are the experts. Front line employees play a major role in the yearly business planning and operational budgeting which for a great part is done bottom-up rather than top-down. This is the fruit of co-founder Herb Kelleher’s unorthodox leadership style, in which management decisions are made by everyone in the organization, not just the head executives. The company does not put much emphasis on structure instead, employees are encouraged to think freely without constraints such as titles or official mandates.
Culture (Informal Structure): The development improvement and refinement of originality, individuality and identity and personality of a given people. This is how southwest airlines define its culture. Southwest Airlines was built on their unique culture, continuously tout it and have dedicated a position to constantly communicating it. Southwest executives are clear on who they are and who would be a good fit to “live the Southwest way.” Three components include having a • Warrior spirit: Work hard, want to be the best, be courageous, display a sense of urgency, persevere and innovate. • Servant’s heart: Follow the golden rule, put others first, demonstrate proactive customer service and embrace the Southwest family. • Fun-loving attitude: Don’t take yourself too seriously, maintain perspective, celebrate successes, enjoy work and be a passionate team player.
Work (Task) – Airline Operations. Requires skilled workforce and much emphasis is placed on customers relation and to providing quality service. To work for Southwest one must follow a vision that is customer service oriented and therefore, pleasant in demeanor and family friendly. Southwest has a special loyalty and commitment to its employees. Southwest had the lowest turnaround time for its aircrafts for a long period of time. To accomplish the difficult task, workers performed many tasks, including loading and unloading luggage, emptying wastes, taking packages and helping passengers, or they were trained to do a lot of multitasking.
People – One of the many things good about Southwest Airlines is that the kinds of people who are heroes of the organization are people who care and go out of their way to help the customers. They’re the ones who are celebrated and held up as shining examples. Additionally, high levels of satisfaction among employees can be attributed to Southwest employee policy. Happy employees can provide high quality service and bring more customers back. To reinforce the culture of hard work, high-energy, fun, local autonomy, and creativity, the company provided continuous education program to employees. If you can help someone out or brighten someone’s day, be it a co-worker or a passenger, you’re doing your job well. Analyze how these elements interact with each other.
1. Work and People: The workers in the company are recruited through a process where the right people are chooses for the right job and emphasis is placed on attitude. Also emphasis is placed on people who can do anything to get a particular task done. Coordination and cooperation is always emphasized and people who were can multitask and go out of their way to help customers or complete a task are treated as heroes. 2. Work and Structure: The structure places emphasis on people and the work they do. Management decisions are made by taking into consideration the ideas and suggestions from the front line. The front line of the company is involved in the entire decision making done in the company. Since the worker bee is central to all decision making in Southwest, it gives the employees in the organization authority to make changes to the structure for the maximum benefit of the organization. This leads to higher congruence between work and structure.
3. Structure and People: The organization structure allows the people to work effectively and take responsibility. Job responsibilities are not strictly defined. The structure provides for people to do anything and everything to get a task done. For example, the pilots helped clean a plane when all hands were required to turnaround a flight quickly. 4. People and Culture: The culture of southwest airlines is people centric. Employees are celebrated and made heroes if employees go out of their way to help customers or co-workers. The culture supports the people and nurtures them to think of the company as an extension of themselves and care and support other member of the company.
5. Culture and Work: The culture of the company is reflected in the work performed by the employees. In one scenario where a rival airline resolves to slash pricing (to half the price of what southwest was charging) so that it can put southwest out of business, but southwest comes up with a unique idea. Instead of reducing the price they provided customers with free liquor and the customers liked it. This shows high congruence between the culture and work because unique ideas come when employees think freely and are also willing to work to make these ideas successful. 6. Structure and Culture: Yes. The formal structure the organization is divided into various departments based on functions (that work cohesively) and the informal structure provides for communication to flow freely amongst various departments. The informal structure also encourages to make changes to the formal structure if required because the decision making process flows from the bottom instead of the top.
Conclusion: Southwest Airlines is effectively able to fit together the four key components of performance, tasks, people, structure, and culture. These elements worked together in unison and produced an organization-wide system that functions efficiently and effectively.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 16 December 2016
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