Monday, December 07, 2009

Southwest Airlines - Linda Rutherford

Linda Rutherford, an executive at Southwest Airlines, spoke at Bryant University this morning. She delivered a terrific presentation, with particular focus on the airline's culture. Rutherford explained that Southwest puts people first, customers second, and shareholders third - a unique way of thinking about how cultivating the right work environment can lead to great benefits for customers and investors.

She also explained how the Golden Rule sits at the heart of the company culture; everyone is reminded that the Golden Rule should permeate all decision-making and interactions with internal and external customers.

Finally, Rutherford offered some great insights into how Southwest hires. She noted that they hire for attitude, though they do not use personality tests. They also use a 3x3x3 rule: at least 3 interviews, with 3 different people, at 3 different times of day. I thought the last part was particularly intriguing - Rutherford explained that people are different at various points in the day, and Southwest wanted to see how people interacted in early morning, mid-day, and late in the day. All in all, I learned a great deal from this presentation about a company that truly stands out in an industry which has incredibly low profitability overall.

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