Fourth in a series on Corporate Culture…

Rules without relationships guide organizations to mediocrity at best and in the worst case to the lowest common denominator. Relationships rule.

“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”

Vince Lombardi

Great organizations are guided at once by deep principles, personal relationships, and some rules. Rules must govern relationships and support principles but the healthiest cultures put relationships first. I am not talking about the poisoned well of quid pro quos or patronage. Those are chokeholds not relationships.

I had the opportunity to visit Herb Kelleher a number of years ago at Love Field in Dallas, the home of Southwest Airlines: His baby. My compatriot and I had a mission, to get a sense of his vision for organizational effectiveness. We were reflecting on what a potent university might look like in the next few decades.

Herb — everybody from the baggage handlers, to the ticket agents, to the flying public called him Herb — was as memorable as any person I ever met.