The Age of Autonomy  - CLEO Skip to main content


Southwest is the most consistently successful airline in the world. How, we wonder, can we explain an airline that effectively specializes in treating us badly (no assigned seats, no free food, no travel agents, no frills at all) being so successful in an industry in which bankruptcy is more common than profit? Well, we could start by acknowledging that they tend to get where they are supposed to go on time and for a very reasonable price. We could also acknowledge that they have an excellent safety record and we could cite a host of other facts that would indicate a solid fundamental business model. But other companies can claim almost all those factors as well. Why is Southwest so uniquely able to succeed where others can’t?

The real answer is their employees. The thing that makes Southwest employees a powerful force for success is that they are (each and every one) autonomous workers toward a common goal. Southwest employees are skilled and informed people who have the autonomy, authority and responsibility to solve problems.

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