Original Question: Return to HBS case reprint, Southwest Airlines: In a Different World. The case study makes it clear that a significant shift in organizational strategy requires collaboration across multiple departments, or functions, within a business. Review the case and discuss how you think Southwest’s plan to serve La Guardia would impact two primary business functions (e.g., marketing, operations, human resources, finance, accounting, and IT). Consider how coordinating efforts of the two functions to successfully serve La Guardia might affect management and decision making. How integral is collaboration among business functions to the success of Southwest’s plan? Cite specifics from the case in your response.
Answer: Southwest Airlines’ plan to serve La Guardia would impact the primary business functions of marketing and operations. Management of marketing and operations will need to coordinate efforts in their decision making to ensure that marketing accurately reflects current operations and that operations also maintain alignment with marketing. If serving La Guardia, Southwest would need to market the addition of this airport in effort to increase the likelihood of current and future customers flying through La Guardia.
Since Southwest originally operated out of non-congested airports, serving La Guardia would potentially affect Southwest’s current operations of guaranteeing fast turn-around times and low-cost flights (Heskett & Sasser, 2013). In addition, since La Guardia is a congested airport, it will likely present challenges with operations such as unpredictable flight delays (Heskett & Sasser, 2013). As a result, Southwest will need marketing to highlight the advantages of serving La Guardia while also being transparent about any potential changes in operations. This transparency is required to maintain the trust of customers while also meeting their needs. Collaboration and shared decision making between marketing and operations will help resolve problems and strengthen Southwest’s image as a trusted business (Daft, 2014). Communication between management of marketing and operations is necessary to ensure the success of each department and contribute to the overall plan’s success.