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From Worst to First: Behind the Scenes of Continental's Remarkable Comeback Hardcover – May 12, 1998
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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
"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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For those who say anyone could have what Mr. Bethune did I suggest you look at the CEO's from Frank Lorenzo to Bob Ferguson and tell me why they did not do it. It was sad when Mr. Bethune left, it was sad when Mr. Kellner left. Not all CEO's are missed when they leave.
My initial reaction was I found the repetition of issues and how they were addressed to be a bit unnecessary. I suppose the author wanted to emphasis the gravity of what they were up against, and that comes across loud and clear.
I do not want to repeat a lot of other well thought out reviews so I will skip to the main impression I came away with. If Gordon Bethune, the team of managers he was a part of, non-management groups, engineers, ground personnel, front line customer service and mechanics, as well as out side company suppliers, come together with one vision, then anything is possible. It takes knowledge, brutal honesty, integrity, an understanding that this is not about ME but for everyone who works in a company, and TRUST, that will create a great corporation. I particularly want to emphasis trust, because it seems that this is what is at the center of what Bethune is fighting to create and preserve. This seems so basic it borders on the ridiculous to even mention or question as to its roll in a successful organization, but this theme repeats itself in many forms in this book. Bethune understands though, that trust is earned, and when the pot has been scraped dry, the only tools available to you are to; have a deep understanding of what happened, address the issues directly with candor and forthrightness, apologize with sincerity, do not make accuses, honesty, truthfulness, humble, and ask for forgiveness. Once Continental started down this road it seemed that the final step for creating a healthy relationship was not to side step any issues, no matter how uncomfortable, but to address them openly and with candor.
I enjoyed this book and recommend it to any one.
As an after thought I want to say Continental/United Airlines are on a new path. It is going to be what it is. Hopefully, it won't be the typically dysfunctional relationship that represents a lot of the corporations in our America.
Good book, recommend it.