Well argued, George. I only knew from experience that Southwest offered more direct nonstop flights, so it was interesting to read about their low-cost carrier strategy, robust domestic network and point-to-point route structure. I’m curious how you think their strategy/value prop will evolve as other airlines (Spirit, Allegiant, etc) take over as low fare leaders and Jetblues of the world really step up their game with in-flight perks?
Sounds like Southwest traditionally flew mainly to small domestic airports (where there was less competition) and could therefore quickly ‘turn’ its planes very quickly. As growth slows from a maturing domestic route network and they start to look internationally (evidence: acquisition of AirTran and now their building of an international terminal at Houston Hobby this year), how do you think they’ll adapt on the current operating strategies? A single type of Boeing aircraft may no longer be sufficient? I’m curious what’s being doing to ensure the success of longer haul flights, where they might not be able manage each arrival/departure with high precision.
James – really enjoyed your post. I can appreciate that process design and culture is both vital and tricky in creative environments. It’s a great insight that a company’s communication structure shouldn’t necessarily mirror its formal organizational structure. At Pixar, everybody talks to everybody, and ideas can come from anywhere.
From what you described, it also sounds like the Brain Trust has been critical to the studio’s success—particularly as a means to examine in-process work very candidly for improvements, without allowing any criticisms to get personal for the lead creator. Do you think this is a procedure that could easily be emulated by other companies? Or is this a Toyota-style ‘secret sauce’ that is difficult for other companies to mimic even if they see the Pixar recipe? Btw, Ed Catmull’s book Creativity Inc. was a great read and I would definitely recommend it, as it boils down the Pixar experience into many transferable lessons!
Great post, Khan! I am an Everlane fan and agree that they have carved out a nice niche in the crowded online retail space. Their distinctively minimalistic and clean design aesthetic (both clothing style and website design/photography) seems to be another deliberate yet subtle way to convey alignment with an operating model that is pared down to its simplest, most efficient form.
Eschewing the more traditional retail model in favor of a vertically integrated, direct-to-consumer approach seems to be today’s more popular path—when you think about Warby Parker, Bonobo’s, ASOS, etc. Do you think though that cutting out the middleman, moving online and even transparent pricing is enough for long-term differentiation? Feels like the endurance of these companies may depend on their continued ability to have a strong point of view that keep the attention of consumers who may have difficulty finding brands that speak to them.