The first step is to find the core. Finding the core is about discarding a lot of great insights in order to let the most important insight shine. For example, Heb Kelleher, the longest-serving CEO of Southwest Airlines once told someone, “I can teach you the secret to running this airline in thirty seconds. This is it: We are THE low-fare airline. Once you understand that fact, you can make any decision about this company’s future as well as I can.”
He continued, with this example. “Tracy from marketing comes into your office. She says her surveys indicate that the passengers might enjoy a light entree’ on the Houston to Las Vegas flight. All we offer is peanuts, and she thinks a nice chicken Ceasar salad would be popular. What do you say?”
The person stammered for a moment, so Kelleher responded: “You say, ‘Tracy, will adding that chicken Caesar salad make us THE low-fare airline from Houston to Las Vegas? Because if it doesn’t help us become the unchallenged low-fare airline, we’re not serving any damn chicken salad.’ “
This simple idea of finding the core (the intent) has guided the ACTIONS of Southwest’s employees for more than 30 years. It is a well-thought-out simple idea that can be powerful in shaping behavior and actions of the intent of the company and its leaders.
“THE low-fare airline” — simple, memorable, prioritization. Not the words that make the statement — it’s the intent.