Harvard Business Review
The Idea in Brief
Southwest Airlines keeps soaring. Its stock price rose a compounded 21,000% between 1972 and 1992 and leapt 300% between 1995 and 2000.
Why does Southwest succeed while so many other airlines fail? Because it sticks to its powerful strategic principle: "Meet customers' short-haul travel needs at fares competitive with the cost of automobile travel." This pithy, memorable, action-oriented phrase distills Southwest's unique strategy and communicates it throughout the company.
An effective strategic principle lets a company simultaneously:
- maintain strategic focus,
- empower workers to innovate and take risks,
- seize fleeting opportunities,
- create products and services that meet subtle shifts in customers' needs.
In today's rapidly changing world, companies must integrate decentralized decision making with coherent, strategic action. A well-crafted, skillfully implemented strategic principle lets them strike that delicate balance.