Southwest Airlines is probably one of the most profitable airlines today. Much of their success is due to their outstanding reputation for on time performance. While other airlines struggle, Southwest leads the pack. Now it wasn’t always that way. Southwest had a dismal record. In an effort to reverse this, they began a process of benchmarking their activities against other airlines, assuming that by doing this, they could learn and then make the appropriate changes. Unfortunately, you can’t benchmark against others who are just as poor at it as you.
In classic innovative thinking, they looked at non-airline industries and organizations that did enjoy good on time performance to understand how to improve their operations. They saw that there was one group who was the best-NASCAR. The NASCAR pit crews excelled here, with employees having clearly defined roles, singular focus, a team approach, always correctly anticipating when the race car would arrive for service, and training rigorously to perfect their task. Cars are in and out of the pit within seconds. With their as their model, Southwest quickly transformed their company’s performance.
Southwest decision to not limit their thinking to what others in their industry have done allowed them to come to an innovative solution. By do so, they found the answer right around the corner.
Innovative thinking is critical to growth, profitability, and success. Southwest, 3M, and Google, to name a few, have achieved remarkable results because they invest time, money, education and manpower into innovation. What is your company doing?