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BOEING: Missteps hurt once great company

Letter by Diane M. Kerr, Federal Way on Aug. 26, 2010 at 12:50 pm with 14 Comments »
August 26, 2010 1:08 pm

I read with amusement that Boeing is looking outside to help with its sagging corporate culture (TNT, 8-26). Is anyone aware of the elephant sitting in the room eating all of the food? Or is outsourcing this task one more outlet for the blame game?

Any other company would have cleaned house, starting at the top, after so many mistakes with the 787. From miscommunication with overseas suppliers (metric or inches?) to poor wing design, Boeing hasn’t cleaned out anyone at the top. Mistake after mistake, and it’s always someone else’s fault.

Recently there were many layoffs in the information technology department. During that time any manager who questioned the supreme wisdom of laying off so much talent was told to tow the line, shut up or you’d be next. That certainly led to a working environment that discouraged any innovation, creativity or love of a once great company.

Sending high-skilled jobs to India, China and Russia may seem like a terrific economic decision, but those costs only escalated with training the new foreign workers, providing layoff benefits to skilled workers, more cost overruns and even lowering the survivors’ morale even more.

Boeing will survive their latest round of debacles, but will it ever reclaim its reputation of a great company with innovation? It depends on whether it wants to stop feeding that elephant.

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Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. gerry0416 says:

    This letter makes a good case for giving the new Air Force tanker contract to Air Bus. They will probably build a better and safer airplane for out airmen to use.

  2. donjames says:

    Funny how this story parallels our state government, much of its Congressional delegation and, of late, the federal government as well.

  3. Boeing was a reasonably well run company that delivered quality products very close to schedule, on time, and in an ethical manner. That was until 1996/1997 when Boeing acquired Rockwell International, McDonnnell Douglas, and Hughes Space (all bankrupt companies devoid of business or technical prowess).

    Now BCA is headed by a Rockwell man overseen by a McDonnell Douglas man in Chicago who is a relative of the disgraced Harry Stonecipher. What else did Boeing expect to happen ?

    The Defense side has similarly tanked with “friends of Harry” (General Muellner et al) coming in and reducing technical expertise and killing innovation.

    In 1997 a McDonnell Douglas insider stated that he was excited about the merger as Boeing had a vision (Phil Condit’s Vision 2015) . McDonnell operated under CTO Swain’s business model of a 2 year make money or else plan for all technology. Two years later Boeing threw out its vision plan and adopted Swain’s business-technology model. This resulted in the throttling of its innovative product line (compared with Northrop’s or Lockheed’s).

    Sad times for Boeing.

  4. When I hire in at Boeing it was run pretty good. We had old school managers who knew the business and how to get things done. Things started going down hill when the next gen 737’s started coming out, a new management team was in power (bean counters ) they knew a little about how to build an airplane. Then McDonnell Douglas bought Boeing or was it the other way, anyway the management people put in charge a person from a failing company with a failing plan. Then somewhere in there there was NAFTA which allowed the company to out source parts to other nations at a cheaper cost and less quality. We had to remake parts or wait for new ones. The Company SOLD our work to other countries for their promise to buy airplanes. Makes no sense to me they need planes they will buy them. Now they have completed their order requirements, we lost jobs. I see Boeing going the way of McDonnell Douglas.

  5. “Then somewhere in there there was NAFTA which allowed the company to out source parts to other nations at a cheaper cost and less quality. We had to remake parts or wait for new ones.”

    Yes, and you know who told the Unions, IAM and Speea, that he would watch out for their interests and help protect their jobs? None other than our illustrious Representative Adam Smith who stabbed both in the back when it came time to vote. Now Adam is telling us how hard he is working to make sure we have good jobs. He claims to be a great leader. maybe he should have led the charge to keep good jobs in the country 10 years ago.

    Boeing is shell of what it once was. Now it is ran by gutless, ignorant buck passers who wet their pants when faced with a situation that requires a decision.

    They’ve adopted the standard McDonald Douglas approach. Find a place at a government teat and suck hard.

    In a few years when some of the Asia countries finish digesting and absorbing the technology and knowhow (paid for by the American taxpayers) that McBoeing has given away, they will get their act together and put Boeing and Airbus out of business because they won’t be impeded by government quacks and diversity programs that kill innovation and genuine engineering excellence.

    They will build a better product, cheaper, and faster.

  6. comment_tayter says:

    Don’t you know? It’s always the union’s fault — always.

    How will the masters of the universe at the top ever be held accountable as they destroy the company, and by extension of their actions, the entire middle class? They make the decsions within the phony construct of the immortal corporation.

    It’s great to know that the decent lifestyle our grand-parents and parents worked so hard to attain — for the benefit of their children, usually, meaning us — has been shipped over to bottomless pits of corruption and greed, where workers are exploited and paid a pittance, all so the said masters can loll on yachts, and suck up wealth beyond belief.

    Does anyone who even remotely pays attention to what happens in the real world — not the rarified air of theoretical economics — believe in the nonsense known as ‘trickle down?’ What an effing joke!

    Keep lining up behind the Republicans and so-called conservatives, rubes…you’ll be destitute before long, just like the miserable folks that slave for pennies in places like China and the rest of the Third World before long.

  7. dbreneman says:

    Of course these idiot Californians don’t know how to run a Northwest company. People are just figuring this out? The merger with McDonnell/Douglas was the biggest swindle in Northwest business history. The innovative, creative leaders of Boeing were left in the hall, and the clueless suits that brought us the deathtrap DC-10 were put in charge of the 787. Put the Boeing executives (if there are any left) back in charge of Boeing and watch what happens! Otherwise, get ready for another trillion-dollar bailout.

  8. “It’s great to know that the decent lifestyle our grand-parents and parents worked so hard to attain — for the benefit of their children, usually, meaning us — has been shipped over to bottomless pits of corruption and greed, where workers are exploited and paid a pittance, all so the said masters can loll on yachts, and suck up wealth beyond belief”

    Exactly,

    And not only the jobs, but technology and knowledge the American taxpayers paid for via military programs which could also be applied to the commercial side of the business. When you transfer work you also transfer knowledge. The US government bought into this too. They let it happen.

    As a former member of both the IAM and Speea I listened to Smith tell us how he was concerned about this very issue and how he would work hard for us to make sure good jobs stayed in the country. But, every time it came down to the vote, he stabbed us in the back.

    No one was blaming the unions, just the politicians who tell you one thing then do the opposite. In this case, it’s called being “Smithed” because he was the guy we were suppose to trust.

  9. ValleyTarts says:

    Albaugh was a failure at Rocketdyne. Got promoted.
    Was a failure at Rockwell, got promoted.
    Was a failure at Boeing Defense, got promoted.
    Now runs Boeing Commercial.
    At Boeing Defense
    Mullenberg (a Boeing lifer)
    Was a failure on Air Traffic Management, got promoted.
    Was a failure on the Joint Strike Fighter, got promoted.
    Was a failure on the world’s largest program (Future Combat System), got promoted.
    Now runs Boeing Defense.
    Clearly shows that at the new Boeing, it’s not your capability, but who you know, or worse. Failure gets rewarded.

  10. InsideJob says:

    Yep, and the biggest misstep was not moving to Texas and setting up shop there. It is a right to work state and there are two airfields that the US Military no longer uses there.

  11. Sumner401 says:

    Those evil scary unions!
    Whatever we will do!
    Glen beck tells us daily in his sermons…oops I mean TV show how evil they are!
    If only we had no unions and everyone worked 60-70 hours per week and our children could work along side us with no safety, no breaks no guarantee of pay and certainly no vacation/sick leave, my what a wonderful utopia this would be!

    Those damnable unions!

  12. Sumner401 says:

    Right to work = right to starve.

  13. stetsonwalker says:

    When I worked at Boeing, heads would have rolled over the 787!

  14. When you worked at Boeing, they did most everything in-house.

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