Thursday, November 13, 2008

Southwest Airlines Statistics

Southwest Airlines Statistics

(1) The only airline to create an employee profit-sharing plan, simply, because they thought it was the right thing to do.

(2) The only airline to post profits for 35 consecutive years (going on 36).

(3) Since inception, Southwest Airlines has averaged a 26% (compounded yearly) return on investment. That is almost unheard of!

I don't want to focus on money when it comes to democratic businesses, but I do want to emphasize the viability of democratic businesses.


  1. Dave, Southwest seems to be full of good ideas.

    On another note, I'm noticing on your poll, a lot of people are voting that "we're pretty close" to the democracy our founders envisioned. Are these people referring to the fact that the founders were all part of a secret society and perhaps only intended that the wealthy run the republic rather than the commoners…? In that case, I understand why people are saying "we’re pretty close." When the voting for the poll closes, are you going to give us the right answer and clarify this issue? Just being facetious!

  2. You are right. My main focus, as you said, is to inform people that we have strayed from the democratic principles that made us great and to inform people that we can change a lot that by democratizing businesses. (I don't mean to say that this is an easy task)

    I am still inclined to believe that representative democracy is still the best as long as 100% of the representatives' power always comes from the people that elected her. I also think it is best if the representative only makes a complementary salary for his political services. No one should make a living from politics.

    Do you think that direct democracy is the answer?


How Will You Measure Your Life?

I recently read this article by Clayton Christiansen out of Harvard entitled, “How will you measure your life?” It is what he tells his students on the final day of his class.

One of the items that he mentions sticks out to me. It reads as follows:

“One of the theories, . . . . . how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more [people think] that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people."

I’m sure you can see why it sticks out.