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From Worst to First: Behind the Scenes of Continental's Remarkable Comeback Paperback – August 16, 1999

83 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471356523 ISBN-10: 0471356522 Edition: 1st

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From Worst to First: Behind the Scenes of Continental's Remarkable Comeback + The Heart of Change Field Guide: Tools And Tactics for Leading Change in Your Organization + Leading Change, With a New Preface by the Author
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What do you do if you're running the worst airline in the country,one that customers hate and that's been through Chapter 11 twice in the last 10 years? If you're lucky, you'll call Gordon Bethune. Before Bethune arrived, Continental had been ravaged by the likes of Frank Lorenzo and airline deregulation--it was considered the laughingstock of the airline industry in the United States. Under Bethune's leadership, Continental turned itself around to become one of the most respected and reliable airlines in the industry. From Worst to First describes how Bethune, with a lot of luck and the right combination of people, was able to transform Continental from an also-ran into an award-winning company. --Harry C. Edwards --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

In his new book FROM WORST TO FIRST, Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune tells how he led Continental's transformation into an award-winning carrier after years as an unprofitable airline that angered employees and customers.-USA Today


"Some of Bethune's prescriptions are refreshingly straightforward... Bethune includes some fresh examples of his plain-spoken management style."-Business Week
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471356522
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471356523
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Leigh E. Sterten on February 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a great book and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Bethune's engaging and simple writing style made it easy to read and understand. Outlining his four-fold plan for turning around Continental airlines, Bethune offers advice to all business professionals. He uses numerous examples from his previous affiliations with the airline industry, as well as stories and anecdotes, to make his simple, yet profound points. At the end of the book, I felt like I could run an airline, too! As a frequent flyer who flew on Continental for many years, I was fascinated by the behind-the-scenes account of what was really happening. At times, I did find myself thinking he might have painted the past so bleak as to make his leadership look even better, but I'll allow him that. Bethune understands that the customer is not always right, but the customer is everything to a business. I would highly recommend this business strategy book to anyone looking to change an unhealthy organization into one more healthy and profitable.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is absolutely invaluable for any manager or leader in an organization, regardless of size. The techniques are fundamental and scale to any size, whenever appropriate.
I've already recommended this book to many friends and associates and I continue to purchase countless copies as gifts or (effectively) as an "investment" in companies that I'm involved with.
As someone with a pre-Gordon "Member Since" date on my Continental Elite card, Bethune's description of Continental in the 80s and 90s brings back some all-too-familiar bad memories of what it was like to travel on the world's worst airline when failure was imminent. Although he accurately depicts the bad times with great detail, those people that experienced the disaster will probably best appreciate and understand Gordon's incredible undertaking and the drastic changes that were the result.
Additionally, it's noteworthy (and consistent with Gordon's nature) that all proceeds from this book will be donated to a non-profit organization that assists Continental Airlines' employees and their families in times of need. Best of all, you get inquisitive looks and smiles from flight attendants when reading this book on a Continental flight.
It's a shame that every company can't be as lucky as Continental to have a Chief Executive like Gordon Bethune.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
With literary assistance from journalist Scott Huler, Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune describes how he transformed the near-bankrupt airline into one of the best companies in the industry. He describes the massive changes he made to improve the product, changing a low-cost, unreliable airline to a top competitor that emphasizes customer service. The transformations he brought about by exerting strong leadership reshaped financial controls and employee-supplier-creditor relationships. The book is a fascinating read, written in a straightforward, this-is-how-it-was style, typified by Bethune's characterization of the company he took over as a... "lousy" airline with terrible service. Sometimes he gets a little repetitious in summarizing the action at each new step in the transformation, but that's just a minor complaint about an otherwise excellent book.....
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
I really like this book. It is very informative and deals with the state of Continental at the time of the turn around. As an employee at the time, we were not told much about what was happening. Gordon and Greg used common sense to make Continental what it is today. I have met and talked to Gordon, and he talks to employees the same way that he wrote the book. While it doesn't give detaliled specifics on what he did and how he did it, this book gives a general overview of what was done to make the employees happy, and in turn make the airline the success that it has become. To those who say the book is repetitive, get over it. There isn't much to say except Continental was bad, and now people are competing to fill open positions. Also Gordon has directed the publisher to direct any royalties that he was going to make to WE CARE, an internal employee emergency assistance fund.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rahsaan Johnson on May 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
I had the pleasure of doing media relations for Continental in the early 2000s, including the years after 9/11. The Gordon Bethune in the book is the Gordon Bethune you meet in person: incredibly smart, driven, concerned about the people whose paychecks he signed, and satisfied with nothing less than the best. Great read. (I sound like a PR guy... But I mean it sincerely...)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Straub on August 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
In From Worst to First Continental CEO Gordon Bethune discusses how he and his team turned around Continental Airlines (then on the verge of bankruptcy) and produced the profitable, customer-friendly airline that Continental is today.
The book is a good read, filled with numerous examples. Bethune takes the reader through the process that occurred at Continental and comments extensively on how the techniques that he applied could be applied to other businesses. However, Bethune neglects, in many cases to explain the thought process behind the decision that he made. In some cases this is expected: most readers will obviously know that a business needs capital to operate. In others, such as some of his less generally-accepted employee relations techniques, he explains only what he did not why he did it. Because of this, the book is more of a "how to" than a case study on Continental.
Also of note, this book primarily deals with a turn-around situation, and while some of the techniques presented are clearly applicable in any business, others deal specifically with a business that is well established and experiencing difficulty. Other techniques deal primarily with large organizations, and may be of only minimal use to an executive at a smaller company.
Over all From Worst to First is a good read, and the information and techniques provided will well justify the time spent reading it!
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From Worst to First: Behind the Scenes of Continental's Remarkable Comeback
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