Foreword to The Progress Challenge

southwest_airlines_logo_03 by Julie Weber, Senior Director, People, Southwest Airlines Co.

Let me just get this out first.  The Progress Challenge is a great book.  It is fun to read and crammed full of thought-provoking, practical and motivating take-aways.  I recommend this book to HR Professionals, business leaders, sales leaders, anyone who is trying to not only navigate the world’s economy today but to succeed in it.  With the 6 P’s of Progress, Dean gives us all the incredible opportunity to be purposeful in creating progress, not just change, in our lives and work.

If only I had read this book prior to the Tech Bubble burst in 2001.  While working at a software company, like many of my fellow HR Professionals, I was doing my best to “lead change,”  to “manage change,” in an unprecedented time when high technology companies dramatically went from such incredible highs on Wall Street to such devastating  lows in a short period of time.  We were reeling from the emotional shock and uncertainty after the events of 9/11.

dean_pr002786_5_625x8_75This book would have not only provided a new way of looking at change management, but also a more hopeful way of beginning to answer the question  “what now?”.  So, here we are again in the midst of unprecedented economic times.  HR Professionals are again faced with the challenge of managing our workforce in a shrinking economy.  The Progress Challenge is a must read for all of us.  Only the businesses that are able to grow, gain market share, gain Customer loyalty and gain Employee loyalty and engagement will survive when recessions occur.  That requires more than change management, it requires progress.   It requires committing to progress and it requires persistence.

 Igreek-pc am so fortunate to be working for Southwest Airlines, a company that truly gets what taking care of Customers and Employees really means in any economy.  (For starters, the “C” in Customers and the “E” in Employees are capitalized deliberately).  In describing the 6 P’s of Progress (I won’t give away too much!), Dean captures why Southwest Airlines Employees provide such incredible Customer Service.  We LUV what we do and our Company LUVS us!  We work very hard during the selection process to hire Employees with a natural desire to serve others.   At Southwest, we hire for attitude and train for skill (as needed).  Yeah, some skills are incredibly hard to train, but to train someone to have a great attitude and to enjoy their work, their Customers and their fellow Employees is completely impossible.  The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.  Try doing that with a lousy attitude!  Having a Fun-LUVing  Attitude is not just part of our “core values,” it is a requirement of every Employee.

progress-challenge-in-chineseprogress-challenge-in-polishWhat Dean explains in a witty and entertaining way is that our attitudes, our ability to endure and successfully emerge from the current recession, our  shot to get what we want out of this life, is up to each one of us.   I have always believed that “if it is meant to be, it is up to me.”  Dean explains why that is true and gives us the tools make it happen!  We have to grab every minute of every day and create progress in our work and lives.  We own it.  I own it.  I will be progress.  This book is so timely.  Thanks, Dean.

— Julie Weber, Senior Director, People, People & Leadership Development, Southwest Airlines Co.