Friday, January 13, 2006

Stay Lean

From Nuts! Southwest Airlines Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success regarding staying lean:

Bureaucracy creates a mindset of dependency, which makes people do what they are told but no more. Rather than encouraging employees to assume ownership and responsibility, bureaucracy teaches them to transfer responsibility. Leanness, on the other hand, gives control, ownership, and responsibility to those who are closest to the action. Southwest allows its people a lot of decision-making power and authority. With no more than four layers of management between a front-line supervisor and Herb Kelleher [CEO], the leader's span of control is very broad at Southwest.

Kelleher believes that excessive bureaucracy results from the egos of empire builders who try, through title and position, to emphasize their own importance.

In a bureaucracy it's easy for an employee to say "that's not my job." This undermines productivity and prevents the company from being as nimble and moving as quickly as it might. Leanness helps identify nonperformers because,in a lean organization, marginal performance is difficult to hide.