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Management article
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Reference no. 4193
Authors: Greg Brenneman
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review - OnPoint", 2000

Abstract

This is an enhanced edition of HBR article 98503, originally published in September/October 1998. HBR OnPoint articles save you time by enhancing an original Harvard Business Review article with an overview that draws out the main points and an annotated bibliography that points you to related resources. This enables you to scan, absorb, and share the management insights with others. In 1994, Continental Airlines was headed for a crash landing--it was quickly running of customers and cash. Today, the airline is one of the great turnaround stories of the decade. What explains its reversal of fortune? A simple strategy, executed fast, right away, and all at once, says Greg Brenneman, president and COO of the company. There''s no time to think too much during a turnaround, he notes in this outspoken first-person account, and that happens to be a very good thing. More specifically, he describes the five lessons he learned during this dramatic turnaround. At the beginning, there was so much wrong with Continental that he felt as if any one misstep could bring the whole effort down. But in a time of crisis, when time is tight and money is tighter, you can''t afford to mull over complex strategy. With Gordon Bethune, Continental''s chairman and CEO, Brenneman devised the Go Forward Plan, a straightforward strategy focused on four key elements: understanding the market, increasing revenues, improving the product, and transforming the corporate culture. He admits that the plan wasn''t complicated--it was pure common sense. The tough part was getting it done. "Do it now!" became the rallying cry of the movement, and the power of momentum has carried Continental to success.

About

Abstract

This is an enhanced edition of HBR article 98503, originally published in September/October 1998. HBR OnPoint articles save you time by enhancing an original Harvard Business Review article with an overview that draws out the main points and an annotated bibliography that points you to related resources. This enables you to scan, absorb, and share the management insights with others. In 1994, Continental Airlines was headed for a crash landing--it was quickly running of customers and cash. Today, the airline is one of the great turnaround stories of the decade. What explains its reversal of fortune? A simple strategy, executed fast, right away, and all at once, says Greg Brenneman, president and COO of the company. There''s no time to think too much during a turnaround, he notes in this outspoken first-person account, and that happens to be a very good thing. More specifically, he describes the five lessons he learned during this dramatic turnaround. At the beginning, there was so much wrong with Continental that he felt as if any one misstep could bring the whole effort down. But in a time of crisis, when time is tight and money is tighter, you can''t afford to mull over complex strategy. With Gordon Bethune, Continental''s chairman and CEO, Brenneman devised the Go Forward Plan, a straightforward strategy focused on four key elements: understanding the market, increasing revenues, improving the product, and transforming the corporate culture. He admits that the plan wasn''t complicated--it was pure common sense. The tough part was getting it done. "Do it now!" became the rallying cry of the movement, and the power of momentum has carried Continental to success.

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