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From worst to first :behind the scenes of Continental's remarkable comebackby Gordon Bethune
Synopses & Reviews
When Gordon Bethune took the captain's seat of Continental Airlines, in 1994, it was a company coming apart at the seams. Running at a loss of nearly $55 million a month, and unable to pay its bills, Continental was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy for the third time in a decade. In terms of quality, Continental was rated worst across the board and by a wide margin among the nation's top ten airlines. Not surprisingly, employee morale was also at rock bottom. Underpaid and embittered over having to take the rap for ineffective revolving-door management, many of the rank and file actually ripped the company logos off their uniforms.
Yet, within months of assuming control of Continental, Bethune and his new team managed to pull the company out of its tailspin and set it on the path to recordbreaking profits and performance. Continental has experienced 12 straight quarters of record profits since 1995, and the value of its stock has increased by nearly eighteenfold. Consistently rated among the best in customer satisfaction and other major quality categories, it was recently named "Airline of the Year" by Air Transport World, the leading industry monthly. And morale has never been better. As early as 1995, employees were so happy with their new boss's performance that they chipped in to buy him a $22,000 Harley-Davidson. Just as telling is the fact that major "people power" companies such as Honda now regularly call Bethune for advice on how to improve morale.
In From Worst to First, business legend Gordon Bethune tells the complete inside story of how he and his team engineered one of the most dramatic comebacks in the history of business. As inspiring as it is instructive, it is the story of how a plain-speaking ex-Navy aircraft mechanic, armed with a few commonsense notions about good management and the courage to look past the bottom line, managed to motivate his people to bold new heights of excellence and win back his company's long-lost customer base. In reading it, business readers will learn valuable lessons on leadership, employee empowerment, teamwork, and strategy that can be applied to just about any type of business organization. No matter what business you're in, you'll find out how to use Bethune's strategies, techniques, and ideas to take your company to the top.
A fascinating business success story and a down-to-earth recipe for turning any company around, From Worst to First is must reading for all business professionals.
"From Worst to First provides an insightful, straightforward look at how Gordon Bethune and his colleagues transformed Continental Airlines from an industry laggard into one of the world's leading airlines." —Harvey Golub, Chairman and CEO, American Express Company.
"The metamorphosis of Continental is a great tribute to the people and leadership of that airline. This book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the successful leadership that led to this remarkable turnaround." —John Dasburg, CEO, Northwest Airlines.
"Gordon Bethune is an inspirational leader, and bringing Continental Airlines back from the brink is one of the truly phenomenal management turnarounds of our times. This book is captivating." —George Parker, Director of the MBA Program, Stanford University.
"This book is refreshing proof that the fundamentals of customer satisfaction can work . . . Gordon Bethune explains in a forthright and practical manner how he led his company out of the depths of despair in a year-and-a-half turnaround time frame." —J.D. Power III, Chairman and Founder, J.D. Power and Associates.
"A great turnaround story, told in Gordon's direct, homespun style, complete with pizza, watches, and 300-pound jockeys . . . to find out how these can help you run your business, read this book." —Phil Condit, Chairman and CEO, The Boeing Company.
"Gordon Bethune walks the talk! By practicing what he preaches, he rescued Continental from a near-death experience and converted it into the healthy, successful airline of today. Frankly, as a competitor, I wish Gordon had stayed at The Boeing Company!" —Herb Kelleher, Chairman, President & CEO, Southwest Airlines.
The numerous anecdotes alone are worth the price of the book . . . most readers will find themselves asking why everyone doesn't run a business as preached by the chief executive of Continental Airlines.-The Washington Post Book World
. . . in an age where managing seems increasingly complicated, some of Bethune's prescriptions are refreshingly straightforward.-Business Week
From Worst to First outlines Gordon Bethune's triumphs . . . about the turnaround he's led at Continental, a perennial basket case that's become an industry darling.-The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
From Worst to First is [Gordon Bethune's] story of Continental Airlines' turnaround under his command . . . The blueprint has worked . . . Fortune magazine named Continental the company that has 'raised its overall marks more than any other in the 1990s.'-The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
All of Gordon Bethune's proceeds from this book will be donated to the We Care Trust, a nonprofit organization that assists Continental Airlines' employees and their families in times of need.
About the Author
GORDON BETHUNE is Chairman and CEO of Continental Airlines. Prior to joining Continental, he was VP/General Manager of Customer Service at The Boeing Company before heading that manufacturer's 737/757 aircraft plant, the Renton division. Before that, he was a senior operations executive at Braniff Airways, Western, and Piedmont Airlines. He is a licensed 757 and 767 pilot and a licensed aircraft mechanic. He also served in the U.S. Navy. In January 1997, BusinessWeek magazine named him one of its top managers of 1996.
SCOTT HULER has been a professional journalist for more than 15 years. Formerly a staff writer for the Raleigh News & Observer and the Philadelphia Daily News, he has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other leading North American newspapers and magazines.
Table of Contents
HOW WE CLIMBED FROM WORST TO FIRST.
Is This Any Way to Run an Airline?
The Last Suppers, or Whose Problem Is It?
Fly to Win, or You Can Make a Pizza So Cheap Nobody Wants to Eat It.
Fund the Future, or If There Ain't No Funds, There Ain't Gonna Be No Future.
Make Reliability a Reality, or It's Time to Act Like a Real Airline.
Working Together, or Which Part of This Watch Don't You Think We Need?
Success Has No Autopilot.
A FLIGHT PLAN FOR SUCCESS.
How the Sickest Patients Need the Best Doctors, and concerning Tapeworms.
Nobody Loses When the Whole Team Wins.
Keeping the Lines of Communication Open.
Predictability, or the Value of a Zippo.
What Gets Measured Gets Managed.
Crop Duster's Son.
Why You Just Read This Book.
What Our Readers Are Saying