In the airline industry, Southwest Airlines is considered a true innovator. By shaking up the rules of flying and improving upon inefficient industry norms, Southwest has quickly grown by leaps and bounds. From the very start, Southwest Airlines' goals were to make a profit, achieve job security for every employee, and make flying affordable for more people (Southwest, 2007). Southwest has not strayed from these goals. It does not buy huge aircrafts, fly international routes or try to go head to head with the major carriers; and thanks to a great planning, Southwest airlines has become the most successful airline company in the U.S., if not the world.
Southwest's philosophy of "Service for Smiles and Profits" encourages employees to treat customer service as the most important aspect of their job. It appears that when employees strive for this high level of service, the rest takes care of itself and success is inevitable (Amanor-Boadu, 2007). Southwest Airline's management structure is designed to carefully direct the activities of employees while still maintaining the spirit of "fun" that is the cornerstone of the airlines' customer service success (Lancaster, 1999). The fundamental concept of management at Southwest is the notion of a "loose-tight" design. Within the context of tight rules of conduct, employees are encouraged to take a wide degree of leeway. For example, the company encourages employees to make their own customer service decisions. Employees are encouraged to try new things, knowing that they will not be punished for innovation as long as they do not violate safety standards, endanger crew or passengers, or keep a plane from taking off or landing on time; this allowed not only to increase the speed of service but it allowed to increase the quality of it too.
Southwest is organized in a typical hierarchical structure, with employees reporting through a line of supervisors to the CEO himself. While most people will...