Somehow I Knew He'd Say This...

There's something in the air, and as usual, these days, it's a merger. It's looking very likely that Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines are going to combine forces and become one company. "Well, maybe that's not so bad," I thought when I heard the news, since I'm generally an optimistic fellow. "After all, I live near Cincinnati, and the airport here is a big Delta hub. Maybe this will somehow help us get cheaper flights, right? Yeaaaah!"

Not likely, according to John L. Mariotti, the author of the recently released book, The Complexity Crisis: Why Too Many Products, Markets and Customers Are Crippling Your Company--and What to Do About It.

"If Delta and Northwest merge, once again the rules of math apply," says Mariotti, telling me: "When you add two negative numbers, you get a larger negative number."

In other words, Mariotti says that a merger is only a good thing if it improves service and thus, brings more customers. He says this merger isn't going to do that. He predicts, "The business traveler will still have to deal with a large, insensitive, 'spoke and hub' style airline, flying how, when and where they decide to, and will still charge every bit as much as the market will bear."

Well, in a weird way, I guess it's comforting to know that some things in life, we can always count on. For instance, I'm always happy for my luggage, when I've learned that it's traveled to a more exotic destination than I did.

Geoff Williams is a freelance business journalist, primarily for Entrepreneur magazine, and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America.

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