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Bringing strategy alive with an anecdote

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —March 2, 2013
Filed in Business storytelling, Strategy

Herb Kelleher [the longest-serving CEO of Southwest] once told someone, “I can teach you the secret to running this airline in thirty seconds. This is it: We are THE low-cost airline. Once you understand that fact, you can make any decision about this company`s future as well as I can.”

“Here`s an example,” he continues. “Tracy from marketing comes into your office. She says her surveys indicate that the passengers might enjoy a light entree on the Houston to Las Vegas flight. All we offer is peanuts, and she thinks a nice chicken Caesar salad would be popular. What do you say?” The person stammered for a moment, so Kelleher responded: “You say, `Tracy, will adding that chicken Caesar salad make us THE low-fare airline from Houston to Las Vegas? Because if it doesn’t help us become the unchallenged low-fare airline, we`re not serving any damn chicken salad.`”

Source: Heath, C and Heath, D (2007): Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. Random House, New York.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

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