You cant compete with people who love what they do.

Just as it is very hard to compete at a sport, or at piano with someone who has started to learn their craft at the age of two years old and practiced over ten thousand hours, when you have just started and are a novice, it is also very hard to compete in business with people that love what they do and are happy.

Having fun at work is critical, and we need to build cultures which allow for fun to take place. Imagine the case of Southwest Airlines. One of the reasons that Southwest is able to have such outstanding business results was because it had fun ingrained into its culture.

A key business model innovation which Southwest led with was their ability to have their planes on the ground for no less than ten minutes before sending them on their way again. This was something in the region of a five times improvement on other plane companies, and this business model innovation meant they had less delays, they had their planes in the sky making money on a more regular basis, and they could pass lower cost air-fares to their customers, leading to loyalty and repeated business.

However, turning a plane around in just ten minutes is no easy task. It requires the captains and pilots of the plane to chip in and help remove rubbish from the seats, it requires baggage handlers to do their very repetitive work ultra-fast, and ground crew to be in sync with all of the moving parts along the way.

I don’t know about you, but to me, lifting hundreds of pieces of luggage in a short space of time seems like very hard, tough work. And indeed, it is not for the feint hearted. Well, watching the people who undertake this mammoth effort, something becomes very clear, they are having fun.

They are driven by the challenge to turn a plane around in ten minutes, they appreciate each other, they understand their work is vital, and they have fun along the way. This is by design, rather than accident as Southwest promises all employees that from the day they join Southwest, until the day they leave, that they should “demonstrate warrior spirit”, “show their servant’s heart”, “deliver legendary customer service”, and, “express a fun-loving attitude and embrace the Southwest family”. The company then actively works to make this culture a reality.

How do you think the Glassdoor ratings on Southwest are?

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