November 22 2006

It's a bit unusual to see a cabin crewmember on a major airline wearing an immaculately-tailored suit instead of a uniform.  It's even more unusual when they have a large name tag that says, "C. Franz, Chief Executive Officer".  But sure enough, helping me put my coat into the economy class overhead bin on the ZRH-PRG Swiss flight was the man himself.
Most of the passengers seemed quite surprised to see the CEO aboard our flight, but nobody seemed willing to speak to him.  That never stopped me :-) and I asked him how he happened to be aboard our flight.  His response?  Everyone at Swiss does service rotations, and today was his day.  He wasn't even just part of the ground staff -- he flew as well, serving cheese sandwiches up and down the economy cabin.

I have read a lot about organizations that believe in this rotation concept -- where you spend some time in other peoples' shoes.  I can't even begin to imagine what that would be like within IBM -- there are probably tens of thousands of different jobs one could rotate into.  

In all my travels, this was unique.  For an airline, seeing the CEO not just riding in the plane, but serving the customer -- that was damn impressive.  Nice work, Herr Franz.

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