Unleash the Power of Five (Virgin America)

Posted on by in Branding/Differentiation, Business, Creativity/Innovation, Design, Leadership, Planning, Remarkability, Strategy

Anyone who knows me knows I love to think in terms of fives. I see almost everything that way. So you can imagine my delight when I recently read how the CEO of Virgin America, Fred Reid, has used the Power of Five to shape an entire airline. Previously, Fred was the president of Delta, as well as the president and COO of Lufthansa and now he’s heading up this new Virgin America low-cost airline carrier.

In an interview with Linda Tischler from Fast Company (11.07), Linda asked Fred about what his playbook from his previous experiences taught him about how he ought to shape the Virgin America experience. His answer, "I asked myself, ‘What are the five things passengers love the most and hate the most about legacy carriers? And what do they love the most and hate the most about the low-cost carriers?’" Excellent!

By using a number, he forced himself (and now us) to go beyond the easy "top of the head" answers. And by using the word, "most," he forced himself (and now us) to go beyond the first five to create a pool of answers, out of which he could simplify it down to the top five "best" answers (and hence, not be overwhelmed with a long list).

I’m sure you could come up with your list of likes and dislikes about airlines, but in his case, the end result of those lists resulted in a low-cost airline with assigned seats (unlike Southwest), premium airports only, a frequent flyer program from day one, first-class seats at incredibly low prices, no price gimmicks, an ability to see the seat on your flight before purchasing on the web, etc. In other words, he took his lists and said, "We’re going to create something that avoids the negatives and enhances the positives." Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But have you done it?

Have you written out a list of the five things your potential customers/clients/members love about your competitors? And the five things that they hate? If you haven’t, why don’t you do so right now.

What they love (or like) about your competitors

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2.
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5.

What they hate (or dislike) about your competitors

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2.
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5.

Then take that data and use it to change the way you do business. If a new airline carrier can use the Power of Five to get it off the ground, something tells me it can help you as well. Because anytime you and I focus what our companies or organizations do on eliminating what our customers/clients/members hate and enhancing what they love, we automatically become more remarkable!

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