The keynote speaker for the Invensys User Group was Gordon Bethune, former Chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines. Bethune, like Herb Kelleher, his colleague from Southwest, understands clearly what it takes to run a functional airline, or any business, for that matter.
“People want to get where they need to be, on time, and with their underwear,” Bethune cracked.
Basically, saving Continental was a two-fold process. The first part was setting up a plan, the second was executing it.
It is, Bethune said, about Customer Value. You do the simple things like fly to where people want to go, he noted, instead of where we think they ought to go. You fly on time. YOu don’t lose luggage. And you do it by doing the simple things with your own employees, too. You communicate openly and clearly. You honor your word. If you said you’d have pensions, you keep your word. If you said it, you have to do it.
We only win when we all win…this is how you get people to want to come to work. We instituted, he pointed out, a profit sharing plan, based on 15% of pre tax income, not on net profit. This is the sort of thing that gets people invigorated and committed to the business.
One of the people sitting next to me turned and said, “Gee, why doesn’t ISA hire Bethune?”
What do YOU think?