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Southwest May Not Make It

Southwest May Not Make It

Living in San Antonio for six years, I flew Southwest Airlines a lot. I loved that no seats were assigned and enjoyed their service. But that was over twelve years ago. Today, I’m concerned that Southwest Airlines hasn’t kept up with the times and predict that if they do not make some significant changes, Southwest won’t be around five years from now. Mark my words – they may be the next Kodak or Blockbuster.

Although weather played a part, the recent meltdown of Southwest didn’t come out of the blue. It was largely due to management’s failure to modernize IT software, crew scheduling systems, and their phone system. A failure to grow their technology as the airline grew. And as we all know, technology changes rapidly. Using a ten year-old system is like writing on papyrus with a quill pen. It may work, but it’s incredibly slow. The systems Southwest was employing were the equivalent of using a 2nd or 3rd generation smartphone instead of the 12th generation. It was a disaster waiting to happen, storm or no storm.

I know lots of you have invested in new technologies over the past decade. New purchasing systems, new financial systems, new electronic medical records, new project management system…..and the list goes on and on. Good for you! Don’t fall into the trap of not doing these things because it will slow you down or cost money or looks like a lot of work. Yes, new systems probably will slow you down for a few weeks or months, but they won’t cause you to come to a screeching halt. The alternative is a meltdown similar to Southwest’s. We all need to invest and grow and learn new technologies and systems, even when it makes us want to cuss and scream and pull out our hair. 

Technology is there to help us. Don’t be like Southwest. Ever since the pandemic, they’ve realized the need to rework and update their systems. As their CEO noted, Southwest execs “talked a little over the last year about the need to modernize.” But they didn’t. And that decision led to more than 13,000 cancelled flights, tons of customer frustration, and a likely federal investigation.

I hope that moving forward, this rebel airline will overhaul their outdated systems. But a one-time fix will not be the cure. They’ll need to continue to make investments every year to keep up with the times and their competitors. Just like you.

Which of your technologies and systems need to be revisited? Where are you embarrassed at some of your back-end operations? Are you still using Excel or Access databases when something better is out there? Or some outdated donor software system? How can technology assist you in making some tasks go quicker and with more accuracy? If you don’t know, call Mike (he’s my guy) or find a technology guru who can guide you in software, technology, and advancements that will help your organization.

Stay sharp, 

Holly Hayes, President & Founder