Burgelman's Law and Southwest Airlines

Video Transcript

Never forget Burgelman's Law. The greatest danger is not failure; the greatest danger is to be successful without understanding why you were successful in the first place.

So, we take, for example, Southwest Airlines, which I mentioned earlier. You think about a specific mechanism, a specific practice that they follow with great consistency. One, for example: fly only 737s. They have flown only 737s as their basic aircraft for their entire history, but that's not some sort of dogmatic, rigid idea. It's born of insight and understanding about what works. Why would you do only 737s? Well, first of all, all pilots can fly every aircraft in the fleet. That allows for tremendous system efficiency. You have the same gate setups, and by having the same gate setups for all your aircraft, you can better dial in the process of getting rapid gate turns. Rapid gate turns are the way that you get an economic engine, because it's profit per fuselage, profit per aircraft—because you make money only when the planes are in the air. So, if you've got the 737s coming in and they're turning quickly and turning quickly and turning quickly, you're driving that flywheel around. It allows you to have lower maintenance costs, a more simplified system, higher safety—all these wonderful advantages in this one SMaC practice.


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