Chapter 1. Systems Thinking


Southwest Airlines is a company that has defied the odds against success in the rough world of the airline industry and become a model for others to follow—a model that has been enormously difficult to copy. Why? Because would-be imitators copy the parts of the system that fit their mental models, but they don’t copy the way these parts work together as a system. They fail to appreciate the fundamentally different way of thinking behind the Southwest Airlines system: systems thinking.

For decades, John Seddon has used systems thinking to dramatically improve service organizations. “To take a systems view is to think about the organization from the outside-in, to understand customer demand and to design a ...

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