Memo from Bezos to Munoz

Jeff Bezos is the CEO of Amazon. Oscar Munoz is the CEO of United Airlines. Bezos wrote his shareholder letter this year about how to avoid corporate sclerosis, which is pretty much what United has.

“A common example (of what to avoid) is process as proxy. Good process serves you so you can serve customers. But if you’re not watchful, the process can become the thing. This can happen very easily in large organizations. The process becomes the proxy for the result you want. You stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right. Gulp. It’s not that rare to hear a junior leader defend a bad outcome with something like, “Well, we followed the process.” A more experienced leader will use it as an opportunity to investigate and improve the process. The process is not the thing. It’s always worth asking, do we own the process or does the process own us? In a Day 2 company, you might find it’s the second.”

Do you think this attitude might have helped avoid that situation on United Express where security dragged a passenger off the airplane?