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Core Values and Agility Move Southwest Airlines Through the Good & Challenging Times

By Agile Velocity | Aug 24, 2020 |  Agile Transformation,  Business Agility,  Leadership,  Video

There have been many times in Southwest Airlines history where times were great. However, there are other times Southwest refers to as “existential moments” where the outcomes were not obvious and the company was forever changed because of it. These are the defining moments in a company’s history and have ultimately helped shape the industry of air travel. From 9/11, selling tickets online in 1995, fuel hedging in the early 1990s, to the very beginning with Herb going to the Texas Supreme Court to begin flying, and creating the Ten Minute Turn in the early 1970s, Southwest has met and overcome various challenges with innovative techniques coming from passionate Employees and fearless Leadership.

Historically at Southwest, the tough times focus around the core values of the organization: Warrior Spirit, Servant Leadership, and a Fun-Luving Attitude. Focused initiatives and dedicated Teams are created to deliver on key projects… Agile-like. Strategies and decisions are focused on revenue in the most fundamental ways. Innovation comes within empowered core Teams. As we move through undoubtedly one of the most unprecedented crisis, how can the practices we learned from the Agile Teams strengthen Southwest’s ability to adapt once again?

Watch this video to explore how Southwest Airlines’ core values and agility enabled their teams to come together during times of crisis and work towards the same goal. 

Fireside style chat hosted by Business Agility 2020 Emerging from Crisis.

About Emily Beatty | Strategist @ Southwest Airlines
Emily Beatty has been in the airline industry with Southwest for nearly 10 years. During that time, she’s focused her career around the Customer in both the commercial and operational areas of the business. Throughout that journey, there have been many changes in the industry as well as internal to Southwest that she has witnessed and played a role in. Being a part of those critical functions, she’s seen the industry evolve and adapt in ways that are seemingly unpredictable. Some changes come from external pressures or internal goals, yet both result in the need for innovative thinking and fast-moving delivery.

In her current role, she is the strategist of a pilot improving the digital space using agile methods within the booking flow. Her expertise has led her to this opportunity where the Customer is the focus, and she’s able to pull together strategic plans and backlogs around those Customer insights. Prior to this, Emily led an internal Team and managed key relationships with external partners where it was critical to understand both how the product functions from an operational perspective and profitability perspective. 

The yearlong pilot recently proved itself as a highly successful program. She now sits on an Agile Leadership Transformation Team to help extend agile within the Marketing Department, to strengthen the relationship between the business and technology. The ultimate goal of the Team is to determine how best to implement Agile in certain focus areas of the business to create a sustainable platform for growth. 

Emily brings a unique perspective on what it means to adapt Agile to meet the demands of the business, while listening to your Customers for every step in the journey and determining the next best thing. Her proven track record of developing successful Customer initiatives using strategic visions, Customer data, and high functioning Teams is well established at Southwest. It’s no doubt that 2020 has created unprecedented challenges, and the ability to move quickly and make decisions remains paramount.

About David Hawks | Founder and Chief Agilist @ Agile Velocity
Founder and Chief Agilist of Agile Velocity, David Hawks is a Certified Enterprise Coach and Certified Scrum Trainer who is passionate about helping organizations achieve true agility beyond the basic implementation of Agile practices. 

David’s primary focus is to guide leaders through their Agile transformation by helping to create successful transformation strategies and effectively manage organizational change with a focus on achieving real business results.

Download the Southwest Airlines Agile transformation story, Beyond the Boarding Gate: How Southwest Airlines Uses Agile To Get Better, Faster, and More Efficient, to learn more about their Agile transformation and why it was different and more successful than previous attempts.

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