United Airlines – A Lesson on Culture

On Sunday, April 9th a United Airlines passenger and doctor was forcibly removed from his seat when he was electronically bumped from a flight and refused to give up his seat.  Video of the incident went viral and was followed up by a highly scrutinized apology statement by the CEO in which he referred to the incident as an effort to “re-accommodate the passenger”.  This “re-accommodation” left a man bleeding with a broken nose, sinus injury, and two missing front teeth.  

When I saw the video of the deplorable act and examined the context I was struck not by a series of poor choices by crew members, but by a culture that values employees over paying customers.  The “re-accommodation” only needed to occur in order to accommodate four employees who needed the seats to reach another flight on time.  Culture is commonly referred to as “the way we do things around here”.  United Airlines highlights a company that has gone so far as to build processes prioritizing the needs of employees above those of their customers.  The culture allowed employees to justify downright dispacable acts in order to remain consistent to this core belief.

What does your culture allow? Do you prioritize the needs of adults above kids?  This act in schools may not cause public outrage, but should.  The effects are more drastic and long lasting than those suffered by the poor man on the United flight.  What we believe as an organization drives our behavior.  When tough decisions must be made quickly our beliefs will serve as our North Star.  Student centered beliefs will result in decisions in our schools that move students toward a brighter future.  What do you believe impacts how you behave and ultimately what your students achieve.


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