31 August 2008

A Good Read - Michael O'leary

As a Professor - I really like to study the why's of the travel industry - in particular I seek out what makes the people behind the stories tick.

The current crop of LCC "heroes" from Stelios to Tony Fernandez all make for interesting chaps.

I was looking in my local library when I came across a book by Alan Ruddock (an Irish chap). It's entitled Michael O'Leary: A Life in Full Flight.

I recommend it because it is not a sycophantic tome but a well collected story told reasonably objectively about the rise of Ryanair. It could have easily been written about the company rather than the person - but we have to admit that the man makes better copy!

It does provide a good backgrounder as to the motivations of FR. Clearly I am a fan of the theoretical model that powers it but rather than seeing what they did right - it is a strong lesson in what others have done wrong and why the legacy carrier model is (in my humble opinion) a flawed/broken one. In light of the recent debacle at Ryanair over the lack of Fuel Hedging - it can now be seen that this was a decision that was actively arrived at by MOL rather than he wasn't paying attention. That makes the mistake seem all the more like hubris, his Ego notwithstanding.

I recommend the book as a lesson to why things happen. However if you are looking for a blue print of what makes Ryanair so successful then you have to dig deep. Only when you finish the book do you come to the conclusion that FR has no secret formula. As the back cover says:

"Too many business guys get caught up in the Ego bullshit, all you have to do is work hard, make a few quid and everybody wins."

Yes - that really is the secret. But, the Ego did drive it so as usual MOL was spinning it his way. Think about it.



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