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The Going Lean Fieldbook by Stephen A. RUFFA

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CHAPTER 9

Finding Opportunity in Crisis

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001, was the acid test for America’s airlines. Without warning, the industry found itself at ground zero in a crisis that shook its very foundation. Demand plummeted, setting most organizations on a course to struggle or fail. But despite the severe challenges this created, Southwest Airlines continued to profit—even finding new opportunities to advance.

The real advantage came from Southwest’s ability to sustain value across a broad range of operating conditions, a capability depicted by its flat value curve. With this, the company dodged a major challenge that undermined its peers, whose steep value curves made them ill-suited to operate within conditions that deviated even moderately beyond ...

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