CEO Flight Attendant

Street Smarts: Learning From JetBlue by Norm Brodsky.

The Jet Blue CEO works (once a month he estimates) as a flight attendant. He interacts directly with customers in real world situations (not just talking to travel managers in his office). This getting out and seeing work in action is exposed a great deal, including a lean management concept, Genchi Genbutsu – to go to see the problem in situ (not just reading a report about it).

he’s shaping the company culture. Employees see him working the crowd, going out of his way to help a customer, and they do the same. They hear him talking about the plans to introduce new services, and they spread the word.

The value of such action is related to how it is done. Executives that really just want to check off a box so they can get back to their “real work” add little value and probably do more harm than good. The success of many management practices is more a matter of how the practice is done than if it is done. Also the success depends on the rest of the management system. Practices cannot just be copied. But you can learn from what others find useful and figure out how that idea would work within your organization.

The author of the article is a delighted customer:

The company does a hundred little things to make traveling by air simple, easy, and painless. So I use JetBlue whenever I can, despite the inconvenience of having to fly into and out of secondary airports.

You can’t ask for better advertising than a delighted customer.

My recent experience with Jet BlueJohn Hunter

One of the comments on the article:

I later found out that he never misses a new employee orientation and would have one rescheduled if that date wasn’t good. I’ve never seen a CEO like him and I had the pleasure of telling him so.

Update: new short interview with David Neeleman

3 thoughts on “CEO Flight Attendant

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