When I recently interviewed Doug Parker, I was frankly taken back by his office. It was tiny … the size of a small kid’s bedroom (see the photo of Doug and I sitting there!), and with no walls and right in the middle of a huge open room with tons on similar offices. I was wondering how Doug ran the world’s largest airline with $40 billion revenue, 6,700 flights a day and 120,000 employees from this little central hub. Doug explained, “ Our building had this old, enormous 1990’s office where you couldn’t see anybody and I didn’t like it. I said let’s just tear these offices down and put in a real open environment. Our business needs to be open and collaborative.”
And what Doug is talking about is a lesson we all can learn from about growth. Doug is among the few CEOs in history to do two highly successful reverse mergers. First as CEO of America West they merged with the larger US Airways which he then led. Second as CEO of US Airways they merged with American Airlines in what Wall Street considers one of the most successful reverse mergers of our time. The lesson to me is CEOs should focus on creating open and collaborative environments, and once they do, the foundation for dramatic growth is set.