EppsNet Archive: Chip Heath

Finding the Core


Shared vision as the DNA of an organization . . . It’s common knowledge that Southwest is a successful company, but there is a shocking performance gap between Southwest and its competitors. Although the airlines industry as a whole has only a passing acquaintance with profitability, Southwest has been consistently profitable for more than thirty years. The reasons for Southwest’s success could (and do) fill up books, but perhaps the single greatest factor in the company’s success is its dogged focus on reducing costs. Every airline would love to reduce costs, but Southwest has been doing it for decades. For this effort to succeed, the company must coordinate thousands of employees ranging from marketers to baggage handlers. Southwest has a Commander’s Intent, a core, that helps to guide this coordination. As related by James Carville and Paul Begala: Herb Kelleher [the longest-serving CEO of Southwest] once told someone, “I can… Read more →

A Message That Sticks


John F. Kennedy, in 1961, proposed to put an American on the moon in a decade. That idea stuck. It motivated thousands of people across dozens of organizations, public and private. It was an unexpected idea: it got people’s attention because it was so surprising–the moon is a long way up. It appealed to our emotions: we were in the Cold War and the Russians had launched the Sputnik space satellite four years earlier. It was concrete: everybody could picture what success would look like in the same way. How many goals in your organization are pictured in exactly the same way by everyone involved? My father worked for IBM during that period. He did some of the programming on the original Gemini space missions. And he didn’t think of himself as working for IBM–he thought of himself as helping to put an American on the moon. An accountant who… Read more →