Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What's So Different about Southwest and GE?

In reading through the materials for Wednesday April 8, I saw a lot of connections between the articles for purposes of synthesis and evaluation. In the cases of Immelt’s newly launched leadership at GE and Southwest Airline’s one-and-only approach to airline business, I noticed many factors that distinguished them from others in the same industry, adding to continued success for both firms. In lecture 2, we discussed how a strategy often involves what not to do rather than what to do. When GE and Southwest faced times of trial or saw an opportunity on the horizon, as any company ought at one point or another, both GE and Southwest Airline cleverly chose to avoid certain approaches while betting its resources on specifically targeted areas. Carefully crafted yet ambitiously articulated strategies as those marked in the articles again testified to the strength of these two legendary firms.

ü  Southwest Airline is the classic example of being the best at what they do and doing it well without ‘stubbornly staying the course’ as Carroll and Mui put it. While some conservative voices expressed concerns about expanding operations into LaGuardia and Philadelphia, Kelly saw this as the opportune time s satisfy the customers’ demands for longer flights to East Coast and to obtain a greater market share in the metro-area airports. The core idea here was to carry out all this without sacrificing what it meant to be organically Southwest Airline: personable, ‘fun-loving’, thorough and accommodating in operations, and punctual. Kelly strategized so that Southwest would avoid getting dumped under the same labels as other airlines that offer average services in congested airports with flights that often operate behind schedule and sought to distinguish Southwest’s brand as it was.

ü  Immelt, a new CEO at GE during GE’s toughest phase after 9/11, was acutely aware of what it meant to be organically General Electric. His leadership approach to reforms, both controversial and innovative in nature, modeled what Leinwand and Mainardi would call as proper “coherence”. All his reform strategies aligned with the original vision and core value of GE, which focused on continued growth and expansion while accommodating for changing outward circumstances.
o   Each new route he sought was an extension of GE’s unique mark, establishing “coherence” and staying true to its identity. In order to ensure long-term growth with new technical innovations, Immelt poured immensely into research and development funding and facilities domestically and overseas.
o   Acquisitions of smaller firms also added to expansion of GE in the direction of its new vision Immelt laid out. Seeing digitalized media and biotech-based health care as upcoming trends, Immelt took no hesitation in buying out companies in that field. Once again, this achieve coherence with Immelt’s ambition to strengthen GE’s reputation as “growth engines” and “cash generators.” Carrol and Mui warn about senseless acquisitions that may not lead to profitable outcomes as a result, but Immelt thoughtfully laid out reasons and steps for doing so. In the end, it provided GE with more platforms to build its work in the future.

o   In addition, with a long-term picture of GE in mind, Immelt invested heavily into person-to-person development of young leadership and professionalization.

Overall, both GE and Southwest calculated out their steps carefully and cleverly strategized to push through times of difficulties, take advantage of chances for growth, and swim in the changing tides of the market without losing their core identity. GE, in particular, achieved impressive 'coherence' even during transitional phases of leadership and exercised rather aggressive expansionist measures while staying true to what it meant to be G.E.

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