The Importance of Culture

by Brad on September 6, 2011

Gary Kelly, Chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines, writes in the September 2011 edition of Spirit magazine about the importance of culture in his company’s phenomenal success in a turbulent industry. Comparing Southwest with it’s competitors, he writes:

The biggest difference between Southwest and the rest was the attention to Culture.

Not just a differentiator, but the biggest. He goes on to describe the essence of culture.

Your business plan is what you are, but Culture is who you are.

How did Southwest maintain a strong, positive corporate culture over the years? Not just by paying lip service.

Colleen Barrett, Southwest’s President Emeritus, established a systemwide Culture Committee, which comprisesrepresentatives from each major work location. They meet quarterly to share ideas on how to keep our Culture vibrant and strong.

William Schneider wrote that “organizational culture parallels individual character.”  If you believe that building strong character is critical for individual success, that implies that investing in building  corporate culture is critical to an organization’s success.

Culture is an important factor to consider for an organization that adopts agile methods, and even more so for one attempting an agile transformation. For more on that topic, I recommend reading Michael Sahota’s insightful blog series on agile culture.

Note: I wasn’t able to find a permalink to the Spirit article, so it may be gone once the October 2011 edition is published.

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