"Not Acceptable" - Boeing Programs Today
I have received a very large number of comments - from every
management level - they have all been extremely positive and
supportive. A sampling - many from 90 Series. From
all disciplines. Mostly from retirees, but some from folks still
on the payroll. The Expletives have not been deleted, nor the typos or
misspellings corrected; but the
"names have been changed to protect the innocent."
Your blog site and especially the page about NOT ACCEPTABLE are as
they say "viral" at the Everett plant, having been forwarded literally
THOUSANDS of places. (NO, I am NOT exaggerating.)
Many many many many folks are reading what you say and 100% agree.
Let's hope for the stockholders, the country, and the INDUSTRY
that somehow things can get changed. Boeing is a national treasure
that cannot be urinated away.
A retired friend of mine who was a 4th-level factory production
fellow got brought back as a 787 consultant a couple of years ago, and
not only did he leave to go back home early, he sold all his stock
and asked not to be bothered any more.
I am afraid you are right. Son Bill (working there) and I have
talked about this. I think that all of the off-loading we have done has resulted
in the depletion of our technical skills and the scheduling expertese and
knowledge that is demanded with it.
I too am embarrassed.
I remember when Juan Trippe asked us to build the
747. If he were around today, I find it unimaginable that he would
ask McNerney or Carson to build him a 797.
I too am amazed that the folks in charge
of this program at the get go are still Boeing employees. I am also amazed that
the current guys running the program are still employees. McNerney is no idiot
when it comes to technical matters, but he’s relying a guys running BAC
who came up on the defense side and who have zero technical credentials. As
you point out – this is what you get when non-technical guys are trying
to manage highly technical companies.
Aloha Bob, great job,I could not agree more, the whole Boeing
situation is embarrassing, especially the 787 and tanker program. I agree the
whole Boeing management structure should be replaced and moved back to Seattle,
but how, count me in.
I wonder if you sent an
inquiry to the 90 series and company directors on your mail list asking if
they would sign or do they believe it would be wise to send a
letter of concern and embarrassment to each Boeing Corporate board member about
the deteriorating Boeing competitive position and flawed management of programs
and Company strategy and suggesting the need of
Carson is the wrong person, he is part of the
problem, I have been in two or three meeting with him and both he and McNerney
don't know squat on how to manage airplane projects. Boy, the board really made
a mistake when they let Malally get away. He is the only one left that has the
experience and ability to manage a project.
Well I think the key is to communicate
to the board member how bad the project and management situation
How many will agree to sign a communication? Count
I finished reading your essay for the second time. I get more angry
every time I think of the down hill slide of a once World Class touchstone. I
would send your letter to all of the people you mentioned. Maybe it will
cause someone to take some action. I think most of us who have been
involved in new programs keep assuming that certainly they will do the right
thing, but they aren't going to. It is amazing how the culture at a
company can change so dramatically in such a short time and never recover.
What a case study for MBA schools.
I don't know where you get the time to put something like
this together but you hit the "nail on the head". I have great
concern about the future of "our" Boeing, our state and our country.
It looks like that generation of no failure, I am owed, and no fault
has arrived. I pray that my grandkids are listening and learning their
-Hello Robert.your recent summary of everything that has gone wrong in
recent years is truly amazing,very well done,a real eye opener and
heartbreaking all at the same time.how could such a great company fall
so far in such a relatively short time? This current report is so
rediculous it's hard to understand how a general manager's concept of
accomplishment could be so far off the mark.Does boeing still have a
core objective to design and build the best enginerred,manufactured and
delivered airplanes in the world?How do you think we would have faired
if we had put out a report like that? Keep up the good work.
when ready, your documents have to get in McNerney hands. It is powerful
- much broader than mine. He has got to know the rest of his programs are
started something- I am happy to participate - it is worthwhile. Do not
As always, you’ve
cut through the fog and BS and said it like it is – just like Blue,
Wilson, Sutter, Paul Sandoz, Ev Webb and all the others taught us! You ought to get an Oscar for this one.
In trying to think of a
practical way we can be of help to the current crew, I can think of no better
way of having a crowd of us ex-90 series managers signing this and sending it
to the BoD, and the Company senior management.
However, we have to be prepared to
actually DO something if they acknowledge they need help.
People like Carolyn, Mike Denton (now VP
of Engineering) et al should still understand this stuff and, at least Mike, is
really in a spot where he can take some action (if he and his colleagues have
the balls to make the decisions). They will have to admit they’re in
a bind and can use help – even if we offer it for free! Will their egos let ‘em??
You probably don't remember me but I was one of the
Chief Engineers in Commercial under Omar and Wherman, Hammer and others...
like you I retired years ago... I was one of those guys who they
gave all the unusual jobs to that needed sorting out ..I had a pretty good
record for under running budgets and getting things done on time. Gissing made
me the program chief for the xxx I did the same with the xxx..I was deputy chief on that program.
Anyway...I have just read your blast on the
situation at Boeing. I received it via Jim V. Gee I couldn't agree
more with all that you said. (But you did miss out the incredible work we did
with the YC-14).
I too have suggested to others on numerous
occasions they need to invite a few of us sharp minded retirees back to see
if we can sort out the mess. I bet in a few months we could work
I hope you send your message to those that matter
..all the board of directors need to see it.
Just received and read your well done
critique of what's wrong with our career Alma Mater. And the great comments.
You are a hero for tackling this in a very
public manner!! I'd love
I'll write you a note this weekend with
some facts and data about why the bird is not yet designed (and, thus,
why it's not yet built and tested).
I retired in early 2006............. Retired after too many months
of being laughed at for nagging about the absence of Boeing-basic
configuration management tools. No
IWS detail workstatement. No
CDSs. No D-IE. No scheduled engineering
interface data sharing. Over
12 different WBSs across the program.
Boeing designers keeping technical secrets from the "partners"
(critical to partners design completion). No detail integrated schedule
for design data and parts between Boeing-&-partners, or between
design release schedule (our famous "S" curves). Tossed out ESWR and tried to
use a skimpier yet incomplete new software toy (Enovia; made in France). Tossed out APL and tried to
use CATIA flat files. And on and on and on. Tossed out Change Boards and
replaced them with a skimpy computer tool that did not include impact
assessments but was supposed to allow all companies to agree on the
parts and timing for each change (big failure).
So, we threw out all the tools we perfected
(although hated) that we've used in one form or another since the B-17
to document and negotiate all the critical details throughout the plane
so we could tell if we covered everything or missed something. Full impact: we have not only
lost configuration control, we never had it to begin with. And the most visible result of
that kind of mess is when you finally (very late in the game) realize
that none of the wire bundles you've ordered and built and install
function appropriately with all the boxes and systems that are hanging
in the bird. And no one
across the program has enough correct configuration data to perform an
audit on to discover why those bundles don't work. Since wire bundles are almost
the last item we put in a brand new bird (at least the first dozen
airplanes or so), we do not get the full impact of a lost configuration
until sometime in Final Assembly. And
we fight that problem all the way to Cert and through Refurb of the
flight test birds.
This mess is not a manufacturing problem (I
say after spending 20 years in IE and Materiel on the first 737, the
YC-14 prototypes, the first Jetfoil, the first 767, the first 757, and
the AH-64). Even though it
looks like a screwed up supply chain at first glance, it is not.
It is STILL fundamentally an engineering
design and design integration problem (he says after spending 20 years
in PMO and Engineering on the B-2 Bomber, the first 777, and the first
787). The symptom of this
kind of problem always becomes visible in Manufacturing before it is
ever visible in Engineering, because design integration is still an art
form in Commercial, although it is an imperfect science in Defense and
Space. With the wrong
management at the top of a program (like 787) the manufacturing
difficulties and immediately judged to be Manufacturing screwups. But Manufacturing doesn't
stand a chance until Engineering completes the design (including
300-500 PRRs). Mfg Engrg
is not equiped to "complete the design" in spite of Engineering because
Engineering still keeps the ME in the dark on the technical issues in
each system. ME is forced
to wait for Engineering to accept and solve all the functional problems.
A perfect example of this is with the
structural fasteners, where several partners couldn't get enough of
them purchased in time so used a lot of temporary fasteners in the
first airplane, then PAINTED OVER THEM!!!! and 'neglected to' create
any fastener maps.......... on the
787, we did not show the fastener call-outs on the 787 engineering; the
new design software tools (CATIA & ENOVIA) could not handle that
level of detail nor the volume. So
the designer verbally fed the fastener info to the ME who added it to
his plans. And then got
his fastener order going. That
is, in Everett/Wichita/Canada/Australia we handled the fastener info
that way. The 'partners'
handled the fastener info in their own various ways, with no eversight
or guidance by us in Everett. Now,
as you can well imagine, that represents a configuration management
nightmare, and a broken audit trail, and an invisible change process,
and a failure to control the configuration to the factory floor.
These kinds of failures at configuration
management basics are due to the attitudes you mentioned over and over
in your observations. "We
don't need to do that expensive stuff anymore." "We are not going to use all
those old Boeing management processes because they are just not needed
because we have all these partners now and they have their own cheaper
ways." "Our partners are
the biggest and the best in the world and they know what they are
doing, and we are not going to get in their way with these old obsolete
Boeing tools." ad nauseum. The 787 leaders did not want
to appreciate (may still not) that those biggest and best partners have
mostly Airbus experience. After
spending three years working closely with the Italians, French, Brits,
and Japanese, I concluded that only the Japanese are familiar with and
excellent at design-build processes compatible with Boeing. But the 787 leaders did not
want to hear that as an issue either.
Of all the "Team Leaders" who reported to
xxx (approx 12 top level leaders), only ONE of them had had
any experience on an all-new airplane program. One had some valuable
experience from years with new Space programs. All the rest had "experience"
on derivative models (mostly DC-9 derivatives), and had no idea of and
no patience for hearing about what they didn't know about creating an
all-new product from a blank sheet of paper. They did not understand the
value of a detail statement of work (e.g. down to the parts within a
flap) that was shared with all design groups and all ME groups, to
ferret out what was overlooked and fine tune the responsibility matrix.
Elsewhere, we use the IWS-CDS-DIE to reveal all the parts that have to
be designed, fabricated, assembled, and installed, and the order they
must be handled in, i.e. the schedule. Those same derivative-only
"leaders" were not willing to spend the time to understand the value in
that negotiated discovery. So
there is no detail plan, so we and the partners went into the first
airplane not knowing what we didn't know about the airplane
When Pat showed up, rumor has it he was
flabbergasted at the complete absence of any detail design/build plans. They threw one together in a
big hurry to calm down Pat, but it was, and still is, grossly
incomplete. Then they
threw so hot energy at the new "not-a-PRR" change process, and fixed
the negotiation parts but not the impact discovery parts. I believe they will not get
the model certified without first centralizing the change process and
make it more rigorous.
I had an email with your "Not acceptable" essay attached. Very well stated. Many of us
old timers have stated the same opinions and feelings regarding the
deterioration of the quality of Boeing's technical and management skills. I
sometimes tear- up when I think of what has happened to the company that I
so proudly worked 37 years for, mostly in avionics and retiring in 1995 as
chief engineer for the xxx programs.
I often wonder where are the current counterparts of guys like Wimpress,
Copenhaver, Webb, Withington, Bob Davis, Jules Berger, Gucker, Pfafman,
Sutter, Sandoz , Bill Cook, Bob Dunn and many others like them. Apparently
those kind of technical giants no longer exist in the "new" Boeing.
And yes, like many other old timers, I put much of the blame on changes that
occurred on Phil's watch, the most devastating being the lack of
understanding of the power that Stonecipher and John McDonnell would have as
the two biggest individual stockholders in the resulting company after the
merger. While most of we engineers knew, respected, and often swapped ideas
with our Long Beach Douglas counterparts, we viewed the St. Louis guys as an
ethically and technically challenged bunch as did many of the Long Beach
guys. While Phil was still nominally the CEO, it was clear that the
Stonecipher/St. Louis influence had taken over our company. I was a sad day
when McDonnell Douglas essentially captured Boeing via a stock exchange.
It was good to hear from you via your essay, Bob. Keep up the good work.
We can only hope it's not too late to recover our company from the current
mess that exists.
Thank-you for your contributions to Commercial Aviation (Our Industry),
Airlines (Our Customers) and Boeing (Our Company) - not to mention your
I have read your recent article; boeing_delay and understand first hand
what is being communicated as you can see by my signature line. I hope
that we will recover from the abyss.
Please do not hesitate to call on me anytime for anything.
Your are an inspiration to those of us in the trenches
I WAS SENT YOUR (RANT) TODAY. --hehe
I have just read it for the fourth
time and wanted to tell you personally that it is exciting to know
there are people that know how great Boeing was and where The Company
With all the real leaders you have
known and worked with I have no misconception you will remember me. I
was the Quality Assurance Manager in xxx for the first 777 assembly.
Remember ? Those were the days when
we went to the Suppliers and made sure our products were completed with
Quality built in and on time. I remember calling back to Seattle and
saying there was no way the first center section would ever make it on
schedule. Within days we had an entire cadre of Boeing people on site
helping. Sure do miss THAT Boeing.
I am still working so I would
appreciate your not sharing my name with others. Every day is a
challenge. The "New Breed" has no conception on how to complete the
task but they are really quick to get rid of anyone who is not a yes
man. Working Together-Reduce Flow Time-Eliminate Redundancy(meaning
Inspection) have become the Mantra. If you do not support that then you
are destined to disappear. It gets tougher each day because the
Managers I grew up with are all retiring and I do not have much
influence without them. There are just too many who have
come from the New Breed and I don't
stand much of a chance when it is me vs. them. I will say that as long
as I am able I will do The Right Stuff and NEVER drink the bath water
that would compromise safety. Oh well Just
wanted to say Thanks.
Hi Bob - I just read your web article. Boy are you right on.
I wanted to tell you that I appreciate the hard work you put into the
article. If I can help you in any way let me know. You have done a wonderful job.......... Your letter is constructive,
non-blaming and should be considered credible. I'm sure Jim will read it
and I would hope he responds and acts. ............
I will help get to him if you have no success ........... I am
really proud of you.
Thanks Bob. I'm an "almost retired" Boeing guy myself. You
are unfortunately correct. Since I left your group many many
years ago I have had quite a few really nice assignments. I am
now the xxx manager for all new airplanes and derivatives. We
come up with..... designs for future products. A "production"
team then comes in and "makes it happen". That's where the
problems really start. I was removed from my position on the 787
4 years ago by a new McD program manager brought in for the 787 for
saying "no" to him. They did not want to hear the truth.
That happened to many of us. He got promoted when the 787 xxx
programs started coming up in trouble. Sound familiar?
Thanks again, keep
talking and maybe the embarassments will eventually stop.
One more thing that probably should have been included:
All upper level Managers are sent to "Sloan" school of
management which is held at either Stanford or MIT. They are taught
that ANY warm body from anywhere with no experience or education can do
any job because none of them are skill based. So the source of the
problem is that because the workers are not skilled they know nothing
and hence are not to be listened to. Thus when a really knowledgeable
and experienced person gets ready to retire he/she is not allowed to
mentor and pass on that knowledge to anybody else. So it becomes lost
to all. One of the most important things that knowledge ,experience and
skill teaches is how and what to ask the right questions. This is
something that Bill Allen, T. Wilson and other would not have ever
allowed. This just shows how upper management is to blame for their
PS I got called back by a first level manger on the 747-8
program for 2 years (part time) to try and straighten out some of the
problems and it was amazing how many Engineers would come to me to ask
how to do various things and how they affected manufacturing. I had to
leave in May of 08 because my 1st priority (wife) got cancer.
I enjoyed your article about
Boeing's schedule problems. I started at Boeing Wichita in 1988. I'm
now of course at Spirit. Your article read like the conversations my
dad and I use to have before he passed away. My dad was
with Boeing for 37 years before he retired in 1979. He worked at
Wichita (B29- B52), Seattle (X15) and Philadelphia (CH46 &CH47).
After retiring from Boeing, he then worked for several Aerospace
companies but Boeing was always the "gold standard" to be measured by.
He was as proud of his service with the Boeing Company as he was of his
WWII service as a gunner on the B29. He worked at Boeing before WWII
and after the war. He rose to level Director of Manufacturing at xxx
before leaving. He worked for the famous T.C. Pitts and he met T.
Wilson. Much of what you said, I can remember my dad and his retiree
friends saying the same exact things. I'm guessing if you didn't know
him, you have common friends. My dad was extremely concerned with the
direction the company was taking at the time of the MAC D merger. I'm
glad he didn't have to see the sale of Wichita. It would have torn him
up. I believe Boeing now sees that sale as a mistake (that is what we
hear in the trenches unofficially). Spirit is doing well and has
diversified itself. I am thankful to have a job but I miss having that
Boeing logo on my badge. Until three years ago, Boeing put food on my
table, clothes on my back and a roof over my head for almost my ENTIRE
life. It hurts me to see how far they have declined.
You mentioned Boeing's problems
mirroring the decline of our culture and I must agree.
I sure hope someone out there
on the Board of Directors, hopefully a Boeing engineer, reads your
During our Sonic Cruiser days I was leading the xxx team. A "new" person
came in and was to lead a "special study" where we investigated the value
of xxx on the airplane's economics. This new guy called a team
meeting of all the leaders and explained the study and it's schedule.
It looked good, but would impact other studies already under way at that
time. Since the other study leaders were not present and no upper
management to place priorities, when the question and answer period
began I asked, "How do we phase this in with current studies and place
priorities?" His response was a very curt, "My progaram is the most
important and anyone who doesn't understand this should write the name
of his replacement on the whiteboard as he leaves the room." Fresh up
from the farm at Long Beach! He became 2nd level on 787. There were many others.
I have just read it for the fourth time and
wanted to tell you personally that it is exciting to know there are
people that know how great Boeing was and where The Company is today.
With all the real leaders you have known and worked
with I have no misconception you will remember me. I was the XXX for the first 777 assembly.
? Those were the days when we went to the Suppliers and made sure our
products were completed with Quality built in and on time. I remember
calling back to Seattle and saying there was no way the first section
would ever make it on schedule. Within days we had an entire cadre of
Boeing people on site helping. Sure do miss THAT Boeing.
I am still working so I would appreciate your not
sharing my name with others. Every day is a challenge. The "New Breed" has no
conception on how to complete the task but they are really quick to get rid of
anyone who is not a yes man. Working Together - Reduce Flow Time - Eliminate
Redundancy (meaning Inspection) have become the Mantra. If you do not support
that then you are destined to disappear. It gets tougher each day because the
Managers I grew up with are all retiring and I do not have much influence
without them. There are just too many who have
come from the New Breed and I don't stand much of a
chance when it is me vs. them. I will say that as long as I am able I will do
The Right Stuff and NEVER drink the bath water that would
Oh well Just wanted to say
You and I first had contact 22 years ago when a letter I sent to Frank
Shrontz was handed off to you.
Your posting is making the rounds internal to Boeing and I’ve invited
my managers have a read. I suggest that it may be
uncomfortable, but necessary to look into the mirror that others are
Whether as a retiree or someone recently returned to the company, it is
very painful to realize where we are and try to figure out how we got
Bair got up to pitch the 7e7 status and I saw all green squares with a
couple of yellows, I waited for Alan to pounce. After all, there is no
way that a project taking on so much technology and schedule risk could
possibly be riding along with no critical issues at that stage in
development. The pounce never came. I was stunned. I knew Alan had the
experience to know better, but I guess maybe he had already checked
out. My worries for our management culture and competence have grown
I’m not schooled in organizational development, but I believe that a
culture of ‘yes men’ has taken hold over the past decade or so.
Engineers who provided analysis pointing to problems now plaguing the
787 program were shooed out of the room and off the program. I looked at the RFQ for some of the avionics
systems and I was mortified. System integration was not addressed. I
was roundly criticized for carrying significant contingent risk in the
out years of my proposed schedule because I predicted that we would
have to provide significant resources in support of
integration and test that was not in the scope of work. This has come
to be true for many suppliers. Subsequent decisions such as shipping
structural shells just to hold to the rollout date have no doubt cost
us hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions.
That said, many of our supplier development efforts are chronically
Thank you for posting your observations on Boeing delays and facilitating dialog and comments. Sharing this can only help.
Have I found anything I disagree with? No, and for the same reason that the choir is there: they already believe.
Sadly, all this is happening on my watch (I'm nowhere near
retirement); tho I am just a stoker in the engine room in the bowels of
the ship, and not on the bridge.
As to Boeing's future, I'd like to be hopeful. But, about all I
can do these days is pray for a miracle (and, while believing in
miracles is ok, depending on them is not a particularly reassuring
Thanks for sharing.
A couple of years ago the chief engineer of xxx made a statement addressing a newly formed
study team. He said, "We need to work hard to achieve our 50% share of
this market". I stood up and said in front of many leaders, including
some VP's "What do you mean 50%? My Boeing has lived with 80%. Don't
brainwash our youngsters into thinking 50% is ok. It's not ok with me".
Not a soul stirred. To me that was the day the music died.
Sad but true. Is this the start of the book? Sounds as if I should be
buying puts instead of calls?
I doubt you'll get many kudo's from the big boys at Boeing, but it does
call a spade a spade. It will be interesting to see how its rec'd.
Would you mind if I sent it to Carson?
Answer: No. (Subsequently went to Carson.)
Bob, If you have a list of people you send your blog to, I would like to be
on it. We met a couple of times over the years. I was in Flight Test from 1965
to 1998. Advanced to xxx, got busted in 1997 for speaking out about what
you describe and retired in xxxx. I am hearing rumors about changes in flight
test that disturb me. Not only will they not make their pipe dream of a
schedule, but think that because of inexperience the chances of losing an
airplane are greatly increased.
TJ forwarded your article to me and it was a great pleasure
and delicious treat to read another Bogash screed peeling hide from the guilty.
After all these years, you probably don't even remember my name but I certainly
remember yours from your days as our Tech-Rep in Montreal holding hands with the
Nordair guys in the early days of our 737 gravel runway travails.
How the mighty have fallen! Our once proud and venerated Boeing
Company seems incapable of doing anything demanding these days such as
bringing a program in on time and on budget. Much of this failure I attribute to
the products of that ill-advised Sloan Program which selected promising young
guys very early in their careers, extruded them through the B-school die at a
tender age, instilled perfect confidence in their immature judgment and assigned
them rank and responsibility far beyond the merits of their wisdom and
experience. These guys were rotated through the various chairs at warp speed and
from my observation, many did not gain much real knowledge in the
Most were definitely good guys, really smart, and several I
counted as friends but most lacked the tempering which the fires of adversity
forge. They needed more time as front-line grunts working night and day under
some obstreperous airplane on the flight line to drive home the realization that
there were NO small problems which kept the machine grounded. If it did not
dispatch on schedule, we had failed, period and excuses were small comfort; very
small. During the early days of the 737 when we were plagued with trailing
edge flap problems, I was absolutely delighted when Dick Ault of Western came to
town to explain things to our leaders. Dick had a colorful way of clarifying the
impact of an AOG in idiomatic English that our leaders could understand. He,
John Borger, Frank Kolk and several others whose names elude me at the
moment were real airplane guys who knew how to make things work.
Unfortunately, the wisdom accumulated during that era seems to have been
displaced by quarterly results and political correctness; the precious legacy
Geezers have complained about subsequent generations for all of
recorded history but in this case the objective results furnish solid basis for
dissatisfaction. It isn't just a nostalgia trip.
Bob, well said and to my way of understanding, right on the mark. with
your permission, I'd like to forward it to some of my pen-pals, but
will wait until you give the ok. It seems ready to go to me.
Hi Bob, long time no communicate. I feel fortunate to have received a
copy of your 787 analysis and sincerely hope you have somehow gotten it to the
attention of those people at the top who really need to see it. I too have
been retired for several years now and I dismay every day at the conditions at
the company today. I made my career in those certification plans and
schedules and stand up meetings and know whereof you speak. Everyone I
talk to today is extremely unhappy with
the cavalier attitude that derives today to work statements, configuration
control, schedule commitments, oversight, etc. I agree with some of the
comments you have received however, specifically with Mulally. He did a
good job on the 777 but, in my view, somehow lost track of most of the core
competencies at Boeing later in his career, specifically with the planning of
the 787. I think you were too easy on him. Anyway, congratulations
on a well written piece.
I never did meet you but having reviewed you web site I wish that I had.
I spent 32 years of my life at Boeing, ended up as the chief engineer on the xxx retiring in 20xx.
I first thought that Boeing was going astray when we sat through poetry sessions under the sponsorship of Condit. I don't know if you had to undergo these.
I am a firm believer in the process of a master schedule,the war rooms that are a part of it, and with the responsibility that everyone has to ensure its completion. In all of my time at Boeing we never deviated from the belief that schedule was the most important (after safety) thing for Boeing. Our task was to deliver airplanes on time to our customers. No excuses.
Keep up the good work.
can’t believe the mess
McNerney’s allowing to develop in Longacres. I haven’t been
able to reach Carolyn, but I am dismayed to no end that she is
really missing is
replacement of Carson and Albaugh – the two most recent disasters as
I've now read your piece a couple of times.
There isn't a thing that I don't agree with. I believe you have put your
finger exactly on what's wrong at Boeing presently - a paucity of true
leadership and management.
I wondered how some of the people currently in charge at Boeing might react
to reading what you wrote.
Not sure you remember me, but I was the guy that your group hired to
take over for xxx when he retired. I started the day you left.
I just finished reading the whole page you wrote and cannot believe how much of it I have ranted about for 15 years.
The management that came in after you have all been poor, they all want to disengage the supply base and manage by MBA.
BO and MS were the worst managers I have encountered
in my 35 years and they ran the quality group into the ground.
I have been the lead of the xxx group for xx
years and have dug in on the 747-8 and will not allow building and
shipping hardware that does not conform. It has cost me raises and
promotions, which just shows you the mentality of the leadership at
Boeing. The 787 leadership ran right over us technical experts and did
what they wanted without regard to quality. Even AS9100 proves their
mentality as it is a washed out version if D1-9000.
You will be happy to know that some of us are starting to hold
leadership accountable, some of us have enough time that we do not care
what they think and guys like me are on them daily when they make
I have been kicked out of many offices over the last couple years,
and proud of it! I keep telling them that after 35 years, it is my job
to hold them accountable.
Thanks for saying it, just validates what some of us old timers have been saying for years.
We need that old management style back or we are doomed!
Whoa...you really did blow a gasket! Not unjustifiable. ...but very sobering and as you say, embarrasing.
One theory I believe in, is that shortly before McD bought us with our money
they went thru a cleansing with all managers being removed from their
current positions and all having to re-apply. What this did was weed
out the timid and reward agressiveness. It was that pack of wolves
which survived to get introduced into the current flock of Boeing folks
who had been hammered the past 5 years on "Working together", "team
building", "concensus decisions", ie, the sheep. The result was
inevitable, the wolves dined famously on the sheep. We could always spot
a McD transfer from other new folks by behavior. Middle management was
taken over, not to mention many top spots.
I never did meet you but having reviewed you web site I wish that I had.
I spent 32 years of my life at Boeing, ended up as the chief engineer on the xxx retiring in xxx.
I first thought that Boeing was going astray when we sat through
poetry sessions under the sponsorship of Condit. I don't know if you
had to undergo these.
I am a firm believer in the process of a master schedule,the war
rooms that are a part of it, and with the responsibility that everyone
has to ensure its completion. In all of my time at Boeing we never
deviated from the belief that schedule was the most important (after
safety) thing for Boeing. Our task was to deliver airplanes on time to
our customers. No excuses.
Keep up the good work.
Good to see you are still your same old self.
How "right" on you are - Quite insightful.
I retired, but came back as a contractor.
Believe it or not the Quality Director in place when the 787 started up,
at that time, (Now two Directors ago)
decided that we, Boeing Supplier Quality, should not be part of the
oversight on the 787 Program.
Didn't take too long to figure that was a wrong management decision.
My little saying, which I have told our management:
When I came to Boeing 40 years ago, it was
"Kick ass, take names, build planes",
now it is
"Sit down, hold hands, build plans"
, Unfortunately all we do is build
back -up plans for those we built in the first place ! !
I share many of your feelings. I can remember going to a 'team meeting'
and asking the "dumb" question, "who is in charge?" It turns out that
no one was in charge.
The team concept came from Toyota, who have a flat
management. Dollars to doughnuts, the Boeing management is far from
flat. I am surprised that the Board of Directors, if it has any
technical people on it, hasn't taken firm steps.
I read your essay, and agree with you!
I am for sending your material to the BOD.
(From a former Board member.)
Yesterday, Dec. 12, marked 52 years since I hired into the Boeing
Co. It has fed and clothed me and my family for all that time, or at
least gave me the wherewithall to do it. I've been terribly
disappointed in how a great company has been run, and thought I could
just wash my hands of it. However, that just aint so.
I think they need to get some "corporate memory" back at the
controls as the boys in charge just have no internal compass and/or the
pride it takes to make schedule king.
Naturally, as an old Quality guy, King Schedule sometimes made me
crazy, but when all was said and done, they product out the door was
usually pretty damn good, and mostly on time.
I believe those guys breathed a huge sigh of relief when those
shanked fasteners were found on the 787 as it gave them another excuse
to be late.
If you can call McNerney, you should. Just to be sure he sees the
article. I would think his reaction to it would dictate where it goes
Bob, I know your getting advice from all corners, but in the end
its your call. And I know you didn't ask any advice from me. So
whatever its worth, at least its free. If I can be of help just let
One of my colleagues at Boeing has
sent me the link to your web-site expressing great concerns about the
delays to the 787 program.
I have recently retired from Boeing,
after an almost 40-year career starting with Douglas Aircraft. I am
probably the world's expert on bonded and mechanical joints in
composite structures................ I had lived
through the destruction of Douglas Aircraft on the basis of excessive
out-sourcing of the DC-10 whereby we out-sourced so much of the work
that the small fraction left for us to do was insufficient to ever
generate the revenue needed to develop a new aircraft. I was trying to
warn Boeing not to fall into the same mistake. Like you, I received
hundreds of emails and phone calls thanking me for my presentation.
Almost everyone got the message at the time, but the top management
either never did or had forgotten it by the time the 7E7 rolled
around. They foolishly followed the MD-95 business plan because they
chose to believe it was a success, rather than to pay attention to
their history and the many valid points you have raised.
I'd like to give you some feedback
on your article, with which I agree, because you seem to be unaware of
the complete nature of the problems with the 787 program. The project
has more than its share of problems caused by inappropriate management
decisions, as you point out so clearly, but it is also riddled with
technical problems you didn't mention that inevitably result from the
selection of composites as the primary material for the airframe. Will
you please ponder the following question. How could a leadership team
of the caliber you have described ever be expected to create a
technically and economically superior product on a par with all of the
older successes you cited?
Thank you for preparing such an
informative and interesting article on Boeing's current
problems. Douglas Aircraft was destroyed by the MDC management; my
fear is that the same may happen to Boeing because the management has
yet to face up to the real problems inherent in the 787 itself, as well
as the business plan prepared around it. As you observe, changing the
key players, while maintaining exactly the same business plan isn't
really making progress. And we have yet to publish a full comparison
between the weights and various costs of metallic and composite
aircraft. That will be as eye-opening as your study.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks very much.
I just read through your scathing assessment of the Big B. I
spent 25 years with the company working in Production Control. I
retired almost 5 years ago. I was contacted by my former manager and
asked to return to help with the 787 program. I spent 9 months trying
to help stablize processes, mentor new managers and call BS on some of
the nonsense. One of the first things I noticed was that managers
weren't doing doing what they were told. When my manager gave me a
go-do, I did it. Not these people.
I have never seen anything like it. I kept thinking someone would
wakeup and fix the mess. But it just kept getting worse. I took it as
long as I could then bailed. It needs so much more than I have to make
During my short time back in the fray, I spoke with a ME manager
that was involved in the initial program planning. He indicated that he
was the only BCA employee on the planning team. The
majority were IDS managers. They had never built a commercial airplane.
After hearing this, I knew I wouldn't be able to make a difference
I was tempted many times to send a note to McNerney to ask him
if he knew how screwed up things were but I didn't do it. I suppose he
has heard from many people smarter than I am. I can't believe something
hasn't been done.
I knew that the brain drain from the mass
retirements would come home to roost. The idea of an IE employee being
promoted to a manufacturing management position and not having the shop
experience could to lead their mechanics was a non starter from the
I'm praying for the company, because they need it.
It's an interesting tome. Have you thought of sending to Mr. McNerney
What I'd really like to see is a national business writer do a post mortum
on the Boeing/McDonnell Douglas merger (acquisition if you like). This is
the one Condit can be hung with:
Tell me Mr. Condit; what on earth were you thinking of when you hatched this
dumb-ass move? You stayed at Boeing too long and Mr. Wilson was right: he
promoted you over your head.
Bottom line? With MDD, Boeing acquired ZERO long term business base along
with a MDD personnel culture of "me first" and "everything else is tied for
last". Sears goes to jail - no Boeing loyalty, Stonecipher gets fired for
ethics issues - no Boeing loyalty, Albaugh tries hard for the CEO job at BAE
Aerospace - no Boeing loyalty.
Reading this self-congratulatory, syrupy litany of trivia makes me
feel like Alice in Wonderland. It's little wonder these guys can't produce
airplanes; they are too busy sitting around in quality circles, holding hands
and singing Kumbaya.
Where in the world did the once mighty Boeing Company find this
bunch pansies and what lunatic installed them in positions of power, power to
make or break our beloved Boeing where we happily toiled for so many years?
When I read pronouncements from the "company leadership"
occasionally, I never recognize a single name anymore and ask myself "who is
this weenie, where did he come from and what has he ever accomplished"? During
my checkered career, I knew almost all of the "movers and shakers" at Commercial
Airplanes, even those who were still grunts in the trenches. It wasn't hard to
spot even new graduates who had the "right stuff", but if any are still on
active duty they have been suffocated by all the PC BS and will remain
If any of the tough-fibered, old guard are still with us, they must
be having an attack of the vapors. Guys like Sutter, Gissing, Tattersall and a
hundred more whose names escape my feeble memory at the moment would be pulling
their hair out by the roots. What a pathetic mess!
JM forwarded your 12/13/08 email to me. I just finished reading it
with increasing sadness. Fascinating – great work.
1987, when we first started talking about what would become “World Class
Competitiveness”, I knew that if Boeing stayed the course (not just the
usual 6 months for another “yes we can” program), we would demolish
the competition and dominate the industry for generations to come. We did
stay the course quite a while. Alan Mulally embraced WCC and led the 777
to a smashing success. For the first and only time, I truly loved to come
to work. It was fun and we knew we were finally doing it right. ...... That
really was a major reason that the 777 first flight was nearly flawless.
We ran the SIL through every nasty failure we could dream up. We found
stuff and stuff got fixed.
the 737NG was proposed, I suggested that it should be a new airplane, built as
a miniature 777 with a common cockpit and systems. This would also be an
excuse to miniaturize and improve the 777 systems package, which could then be
offered as a retrofit to all previous Boeing jets, as well as Airbus and Douglas jets. The airlines could finally have “common”
fleets of airplanes – that all looked like Boeing 777’s.
no! We went cheap and built the 737NG. We pulled it off at
great expense and effort, but it was the beginning of the end of WCC.
the “early retirement” of 1995 coupled with the demographic age
bubble in engineering as well as our pilot office, I could see that if the
company did not provide for our replacements in time for us to train them,
there would be a two-thirds wipe out of experience in about 10 years. As
you describe in the “Tome”, it happened.
great hopes for Phil. I knew him when I was a new aero engineer at Everett in 1972.
But alas, he sold us out to MD. We should have waited until they went
bankrupt and then picked up the pieces – sans their
management. But no! We let them run us into the ground, just
like they did with Douglas and then MD. Then they move headquarters to Chicago with the rest of
the mobsters. “You are known by the company you keep.”
other than that, I don’t have strong feelings in the matter.
retired in 2002 and built a new house. There is life after Boeing, and it is
good. Everyday is Saturday. I’m so busy now; I can’t
imagine ever having had any time to go to work.
If it were me, I would consider sending it to McNerney and others on
the board and ask them if they cared to comment on it before you give
it wider distribution, such as the times, etc. Once you let this cat
out of the bag they are going to go into a defensive mode and will
never listen. If the main goal is to right the ship, perhaps they need
to give your piece a scrutinizing squint, before it falls on them like
This is typical "everything is just fine" attitude...We have gone way
to far to the right in our approach to teaming and consensus decision
making....and rewarding a "didn't get it done" behavior in my opinion.
There needs to be fatalities (not real) but people being told they
don't have jobs based on their lack of managing a program, meeting
costs, and deliverables on time, and oh, forgot about a quality
product. Sometimes I think I am getting too old for this stuff.....
(Current Director in Chicago)
Personally, I think things started going south about the time Boeing
began trying to not recognize individuals as heroes and standouts.
I don't know how you do it -- I could never type fast enough to write that
much no matter how much I knew. But I bet ol' Jim B. is rolling over and
was Working Together. For example we no longer put the names of the fight
crew on the sides of the cockpit -- it was the WT term (777).
I talked a lot to Jack Steiner. He bemoaned the fact that
Boeing no longer had "faces in the window" (his term) in the form of chief
engineers, designers, etc. Instead, everything was WT and was being reduced
to the LCD. The Sutters, Wygles and their ilk were pushed aside. But the
result was there was no one for the employees to look up to and worship as
Just read your "Not Acceptable!!!"
for the second time.
I have been at Boeing 31 years and I
will be retiring shortly. I've heard most of what you have said but
never before seen it put all together in writing. I didn't much care
for Harry the Butcher and I believe the final downfall of Boeing was
when we let Mickey D buy us with our own money. I am on the factory
floor and your sentiments hold true here also. Very good analysis. My
manager offered me management 15 years ago and I said " I didn't think
you hated me that much." Bill Boeing created this company because he
said: " I can build a better airplane." As a good friend of mine, who
was a technical writer that contracted with Boeing said: " This company
is more interested in creating mini kingdoms than it is building
airplanes. This company does too much touchy feely, political correct,
working together, meeting attending etc. bullshit and seems that their
main goal is to create more acronyms and buzz words then have any
concern for building airplanes. The work ethic on the shop floor is
gone. Seems like everyone is worried that they might do a little more
than the next guy. I remember when we actually built airplanes.
Thought you would like a word from
the ground floor. Your article should be mandatory reading for every
I read the whole thing. Great. You
hit it right on the head. Touchy feely my ass. A sharp hard kick
in the ass is what's needed.
Boeing has become a company of wimps managed by incompetent
wimps. If this happened in China,
a lot of people would be making
small rocks out of big ones. And
they would make schedule. The
triumph of bullshit over performance.
Greetings Mr. Bogash,
My name is xxx. I am a 21 year Boeing employee, employed in Everett. I ran
into an article you had posted entitled "Not Acceptable" and I must
applaud you, sir.
Boeing does not give a damn about passion, quality and
the need to be the best. Nor are they willing to keep, retain, or place
people and resources in order to be the best. BA has become a
nepotistic company, which promotes friends and family into leadership
roles without considering attributes like education, tenor, skill and
aptitude. This company has eroded into an
average, whole-hum company with average leadership up and down its many
"tiers of failure,” as I call it. There are too
many hurdles to overcome to get any changes needed to better the
product. There is a poor lack of training being conducted to keep many
of these hourly employees abreast of their own poor skills and
absolutely no desire to want to achieve more.
The hourly employees are not being taught the level of urgency that is
needed and demanded of them in today’s working environment. They 'milk' their eight-hour jobs to ten or twelve
hours without any discipline or made aware of the cost of soaking a job
and its consequences to the company and its customers
Support organizations at every level lack the urgency to support the
shop. QA will sit on a call for hours, even if it is something simple
as a hole check, and in many cases abandon the call. ME enjoys dragging
their feet on simple changes to the paperwork. IE
manipulates the data on the time it takes to start and complete the
jobs, in order to get a better PE rating for cutting cost without considering a time study. Too
many employees in the support organization role use to be shop floor
rejects. BA is obligated to put them somewhere.
However, the management truly is appalling. I
especially enjoyed reading your take on it and hope that they are
listening. I would not hold my breath.
Thank you for spirit. It is like a breath of fresh air.
I read Bob's material from end to end and I
learned a lot more than I knew. The situation is much worse that I
expected. I am in full agreement in his analysis of the management
problems. It just seems there is no one in full control. Kind of like
lost sheep. Jim, I certainly don't want to sound like I am a sexist and
biased, but I think a lot of the problems started by promoting a lot of
people , women included, into positions they knew nothing about, just
to fill quotas. Next, education and degrees are wonderful, but a degree
does not guarantee the holder could organize and manage a goat roping
It seems the company is now only reactive
instead of proactive..When did they throw out source and receival
inspections, along with onsite monitoring of the critical stuff?
It may very well be that the suppliers are
held up for late engineering data. We have seen that before. I remember
going to LTV to rattle their cage and I did, but they asked when they
might possibly expect the engineering for a small change that would
have worked a big problem? They had been waiting about two years. I
called Red McCallum and he got the ball rolling and that problem was
solved in about a week, but authorization to proceed with the new
change was instant. That is where an onsite interface really pays off.
It just seems that it is only a matter of time
before we see a major collapse of the company. When that happens, the
time will be ripe for Toyota to step in and take over, as they said
they will become the transportation system of the world.
A retired Douglas/Boeing employee forwards the
Boeing magazine to my dentist friend who is an aviation enthusiast. My
friend asked me why are there so many Vice Presidents at Boeing. I told
him it wasn't always that way.
Anyway, I want no part of it, except I want
them to get their act together as I am still holding a lot of stock
certificates. will be interesting to see the results of the changes in
the next six months. Better close. Stay warm out there, and stay
healthy. My old knees are giving me fits, probably to many years on the
hard concrete. I don't want any more surgeries.
From my little knot hole I believe you're dead on. I felt the bull
shit would sink us long before I retired and was sent to people skills
class over and over to some how change my theory x way of thinking, It
never worked and I'm glad it didn't.
When I was young and fighting incompetent management I use to say
to my self that’s ok you bastards I'll out live ya. Then when I got
to a point and time to make a difference along comes political
correctness and make everyone feel warm and fuzzy.
They deserve what they've made and if it weren't for the fact that
I still feel a sense of loyalty to The Boeing Company I grew up in I'd
say fuck em all.
Truth of the matter is the people down there today couldn't handle
the old ways of doing our day to day business. They've been made soft
with all the bullshit programs and management that doesn't know how to
call bullshit when these limp dicks get up and starts pumping out their
excuses. Time to remember " The initial objective is to build airplanes"
think you're a little bit soft on the reasons for failures. (just
kidding) I have said before (and you touched on it) that the educated
idiots got control of the Company and started playing silly games
instead of building airplanes. People who don't have a clue about what
it takes to actually build a product.
I wonder how long before our retirement plan is canceled?
Great articles Bob.. I hate to think
and often wonder if there will be a Boeing Company in the year 2020
I retired in 1996 and had many great
opportunities at Boeing. I started in the Renton wire shop and advanced
to supervision. From the wire shop I went to work as a supervisor on xxx for Don Engle/Dick McClester/Jack
Potter/Peewee Nelson/Dean Cruz. What a great bunch to work with.
I transferred to the Everett Flightline..... Great job..wonderful people.. Screamn
Sam (I cannot remember his last name) was a General out there at that
time. Altho he was not my general he made his meetings loud and clear
thruout the halls of the flighline building.. he got the ball rolling
for every one every morning..
Eventually I ended up in the factory
in xxx.......The tunnel meetings were always a top priority. One
might say I was raised knowing (as a supervisor) I must operate On
Schedule and Under Budget. OR ELSE!
After I retired from Boeing I went
back as a consultant. In 1997 it was plain to see the company was
heading in the wrong direction. All managment was going to be required
to have a degree of some sort..Instead of promoting from the ranks
where the knowledge to build and survive was built in..Computers came
in to the factory and people quit talking..all was done by computer
(Its easy to lie when you don't have to face them) Supervisors hunkered
down on the computers and never went to the airplane during the day..
You might say the inmates were running the farm.. Bean Counters
replaced the supervisors and the hourly employees huddled in bunches
and laughed at how easy it was to snowball these folks.. and so went
the way of the schedule ect..
I have since moved to xxx
Washington.. I loved my career at Boeing . I was offered many
opportunities and I took them . It was an Honor to be the 1st female
Supervisor in xxx, The only female Superviosr in a group
of over 100 supervisors on the xxx and the 1st Female Supervisor in xxx.. I learned
to stand up and fight for my crew and they in turn would take care of
my schedule needs... The plane has to be built from the bottom up..Not
from the top down..
Your article is wonderful and so
much right on as to the way the house of cards started and contiues to
collapse.. One has to wonder just where it will be in the year 2020..
PLEASE write a book on the company.. It would be so great to have one
to pass on to our Grand children of how it use to be and what caused
the big collapse because I feel it will be coming maybe not in the rest
of my lifetime but in the next 30 years..
Bob has compiled an outstanding
analysis of the evolution of Boeing commercial airplanes. It is a very
thought-provoking peice of work. The main issue as I see it is that the
new leadership's view of all of this truth this would differ from yours
or mine. While one would hope it would be received with the respect it
is due and actually result in some sort of leadership "revival", I
believe that the current leaders will not receive it well. As Bob
stated at one point, "maybe Boeing is reflective of our society as a
whole", is something to think about.
Take a look at the auto industry,
banking, financial institutions, etc. Most of the major organizations
seem to be performing similarly. They have well educated leaders who
have bounced around other major organizations, built up thier resume's,
and are able to put a "spin" on just about any situation (like many of
the spins Bob captured for this document). I'll bet a very similar
document could be compiled for Chrysler, General Motors and others.
As far as a solution goes, the new leaders have hit critical mass, so I don't now if turning back to basics is possible.
I commend Bob for this magnificent
effort, though I am not surprised. For a long time, I thought I would
join Bob's team at some point. He was interested in hiring me just
before I came to work for you and several times after. I believe he has
always tried to make a big difference for Boeing.
re the 787 and general demeanor it's all true. Several people my level
thru out lots of orgs (I am on a lot of 787 teams) are all saying the same
thing nothing is getting passed on to the top. One really smart woman who
was a "nay sayer" was removed from her job for not shutting up!! We will
see that she is right real soon. I also agree there are going to be more
delays, and finacially I can tell you things (not on line) that will make
your toes curl.
Thanks for all of the effort and blood,sweat and tears that went into
your treatise. You are right on! I fear that a solution is beyound
the capability of anyone currently on the Boeing payroll. I would
like to think that this too shall pass, but I am afraild that what will
pass will be Boeing.
OK my put. It will be concise. Bogash has given us a most
insightful well researched, historical, account.
J. has given us a more concentrated and good analysis. B., as
usual, has put some balance into the discussion. I agree that we did not train
the next generation or lost it by failing to transition.
But, I think you have all missed a major dimension.
To the extent that we are talking about the 787, we are not talking about
the kind of program we participated in bringing to successful conclusion,
relatively on time and within the money.
This program gave away a large degree of engineering responsibility and
asked for the delivery of complete assemblies. The 6 o'clock stand up
meetings should have occurred in other corporation's plants. Their
managements should have seen to comprehensive manufacturing and assembly plans
and so on.
And while we had earlier program participants living with our
engineering and our engineers in a supervisory role at major
subcontractors, coupled to experienced planning, tooling and manufacturing,
people, we left these them to their own
think that you've hit the nail on the head.. Straight forward and
to the point. But given Boeing's current management tree nobody is left
that thinks the legacy way and I don't for see anything changing except
our bottom line, going in the negative column. And I have always said
from the time that Stone Dicker took over, Boeing was on a down fall
because of his putting non aerospace personnel in high positions that
new nothing about an airplane... Still the practice today. Lots of
educated people but most without any aerospace experience... I don't
see things getting any better any time soon.
I think Boeing is in for some
really tough times in the not to distant future.
Thanks for sharing
Excellent evaluation. We need to get this in the
hands of the right people. But who is that? The Board must be asleep.
I sent That Bogash article to my brother in law who was a corp.
director reporting to T Wilson when he retired.
Hi Ray - A rather lengthy study on Boeing management. I
read it all and I substantially agree with it. Things have really
changed at the old shop - I remember when Bill Allen ran things that
the pressure to keep schedule was enormous (I believe we even bragged
that Boeing had not missed schedules for 4 or 5 years. I seem to
remember that heads of mfg and eng even lost their jobs when we missed
schedules. There is no question that the 787 represents a great
technical challenge, but so did the 747 and the article you forwarded
referred to schedule slides on all kinds of programs. I don't know who
the guy is that wrote that article, but it represented a lot of work.
I worked for you from 1991 - your departure. I was in Chicago when
you traveled there [for our midwest ] staff meeting. You spoke frankly
in that meeting and I shall never forget that heartfelt speech. Thank
My name is T.
I began with Boeing, fresh out of college, in 1978. Like most of us, I
worked for some excellent managers and some poor managers. It's just
the way it is.
Further to your writings, it is my observation that the most
essential Boeing "paradigm shift" the past 30 years has been this:
In the 1970's and 1980's you could be damaged or fired for
lying to executive management; more recently you can be damaged or fired
for not lying to executive management.
I have seen this and experienced it first hand.
Like you Bob, I have many friends who remain in management at Boeing.
Several were drafted into the 787 program. Their consensus of the
program is that the problems are seldom technical in nature, but rather
stem from management corruption - for lack of a better, or worse,
If I could pass along one management recommendation to Mr. McNerney it
would be to simply reward "functional correctness" (my word)
instead of "political correctness" which became so overwhelmingly
prevalent during the 1990's.
Best wishes to you Bob Bogash!
I thought it is a well written article. I would have added a
few comments like "Some how, Boeing must shed its McDonnell symbol, relocate its
Headquarters back to Seattle, and shed its McDonald & McDonnell executives
within the Seattle area Boeing facilities. Boeing must return to a Quality
Assurance plan that was introduced on the 777, and provide on site support in
Engineering, Quality Assurance and Program Management at its major
problem is to convince any of them that a) there’s a problem, b) it is
fixable, and c) that you have the solutions. These solutions would have
to be cost effective and somehow be made palatable to the existing folks. That
means acceptance at the highest levels and top down enforcement by edict.
That’s a big row to hoe -- maybe impossible.
If Wilson was still in charge we/they would not be in this mess. Maybe management
should answer the question; WWWD, "What Would Wilson Do?" After that they
could go fouth and fire someone..
Your piece was on target! Promotions while I was still there (end of
2000) seem to fulfill quotas rather than promoting personnel with the
capability to get the job done. Sort of a quick dance through the chairs
to higher levels.
I would like to see a video of the "Head Shed" reading your tome.
Thanks for the humor. I needed a lift.
A friend of mine bumped into Frank Schrontz the other day
and asked him what he thought of the program delays and the leadership in
Chicago. Frank just rolled his eyes. It was Condit more than anyone who
considered Boeing a fine place for his social experiments. What business does
the company have diluting the workforce for all these warm and fuzzy programs.
It's time to go back to basics, focus on airplanes, cut the meetings, do the
work. Oh well, our days in the saddle were not perfect but surely it is more
satisfying to struggle with an engineering or production problem than meeting
environmental goals, etc.
Jeez, what tripe. This guy couldn't
find his ass with both hands....
probably spend two
hours every morning on their makeup.
God, help Boeing. Do they even
know how to spell priorities.
Kind of makes me want to puke, he (Carson) should have been candid about problems.
I have read
your sixty some pages with interest,and have taken the liberty of
sharing them with others.
I also must say that I generally agree with the points you have made.
Since you have not read my analysis, here it is.
I have not read your latest draft, but I will. I have though, read your suggestions on what us old crocks can do.
of us have been thinking along similar lines, and have come up with all
the same suggestions, except the double box. And, Oh yes, we did not
limit participation in any solution to retired 90 series, or execs.
Will comment further on your latest writing when I read it.
But, I am on your side, and particularly agree with your post script.
In short, I think that all us old guys generally agree that the
root cause of the 787debacle, was the can do, results oriented culture
the company used to have, going South and being replaced by a touchy
feely, efforts count, team oriented, culture. And it took about 20
years for that change.
I don't see that any of the suggestions for a fix that any of us have come up with address that problem.
First, the guys in charge, starting with McNerney, have to agree that the culture has gone to Hell.
I don't think that they will do that, partly because they don't
have their ear to the ground, and partly because our general culture is
tending to embrace those values which we think are causing the problem.
They are apt to dismiss our concerns as merely rants of old time Hard
Ass management types, out of touch with the times, who on principle,
don't think the new team knows what they are doing.
But let's say that a miracle occurs, they agree with us, and want
to turn it around. How do you undo 20 years worth of ingrained
To a geezer who has been "out of the loop" for a very long time,
much of this sounds like touchy-feely, PC bullshit. When did we cease
responding to customers' urgent requests for assistance and when did our
Training outfit cease to be "customer-focused? What genius decided that our
business objective was demonstrating "environmental leadership" rather than
designing, building and supporting the finest transport category aircraft in the
With such apparent confusion over a candid, unambiguous
mission statement among the leadership, is it any wonder that the troops
are confused and demoralized or that things aren't getting done on time? I'm
almighty glad to be retired. Indeed, neither of us would have fit comfortably
into what that outfit has become; we were too much type A, let's get
it done personalities.
Gee Bob, you're on a roll!! .... I wouldn't have
expected Carson or Bogue or any of our "leaders" to highlight all the bad.
I would like to think those responsible for the "bad", however, will be held
accountable...but I doubt it.
Scott left out “the rest of the
story”. See my addendum to his message in red below.
From: Scott Carson
Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Subject: Challenges and
accomplishments during 2008
is being sent by Scott Carson, president and CEO of Commercial Airplanes, to
all Commercial Airplanes employees.***
accomplishments during 2008
As 2008 draws to a close, it is the natural time to
look back over the year as well as the right time to identify the priorities
and focus areas that we must tackle in 2009.
It has been a challenging year, and we know the areas
that we must address and improve. But despite its disappointments, 2008 also
was a time of accomplishment at Commercial Airplanes. Each of you, in one way
or another, had a role to play.
Here’s just a sampling of the highlights:
backlog, surpassing 3,700 jetliners
–this is because BCA didn’t deliver what was
promised in 2008
milestones: 1,400th 747 delivery, 700th 777 delivery, 5,000th order for
the Next-Generation 737
Poseidon rollout and delivery to IDS
but does this weapon system work?
structural and systems tests successfully completed on the 787 Dreamliner
scheduled for completion in 2007
flight testing of the first 777 Freighter
747-8 major assembly
focus on improving response time for customers’ urgent requests
through our 24/7
been doing this since 2006
delivery of the first 767-300 Boeing Converted Freighter, 1 of 26
freighter conversions during the year
not competitive with IAI freighter conversion
single, customer-focused aviation training organization that included
bringing subsidiary Alteon back into Boeing
and who was the wizard that gave it away in the 1st
four-year labor agreements with the two largest bargaining units that
represent our employees and reaffirmed our commitment to improving our
relationships over the next four years
units demonstrated innovation, flexibility and a solid commitment to Lean+
principles in support of new and existing programs - BS
environmental leadership by collaborating on demonstration flights using
sustainable biofuels and advanced air traffic management concepts
community cultural events and volunteer efforts to help people in need,
particularly the year-end Spirit of the Holidays drive –
what about the shareholders?
Of course, there are many more successes
I could add to the list. When you add them up, it reminds us that we are
leaders in commercial aviation and with that leadership comes the
responsibility to deliver the best value to our customers, our shareholders,
our communities and ourselves.
Last week we took steps that are aimed at improving
supply chain and development program execution, to put us in a better position
to meet the challenges that await our company and our industry. Our teams are focused
on learning from our challenges on the 787 program and will be adjusting our
work statement to implement those lessons learned. Throughout Commercial
Airplanes, we also must continue to carefully review our work statement
priorities and spending levels, and to make the right and sometimes tough
decisions, to ensure we are positioned correctly for 2009.
As always, the end of the year is a special time to
say thanks for everything that you do to make a positive difference in our
communities and to help those in need. More than ever, we should all feel great
pride in how the employees of Boeing give of themselves in so many ways.
Thanks for all you do for Boeing, and I look forward
to working with you in the new year.
Oh by the way – here’s
what we didn’t do:
Flight test the 787
Deliver the 787
Deliver a Wedgtail that
Make schedule on the 747-8
Make schedule on the 777F
Help stock price to levels
higher than $43 per share
Of course, there are many
more failures I could add to the list. When you add them up, it reminds
us that we are lagging in leadership in commercial aviation and with that
leadership failure comes the responsibility to bring in a new CEO so we can
deliver the best value to our customers, our shareholders, our communities and
I know the guy who
wrote this quite well, Bob Bogash, have known him for probably 40 years and he
has a unique window to see what is going on at the company today, and he tells
it like it pretty much is. It is worth the time to read it if you wonder
what is happening with the 787 and more importantly, the culture at Boeing
today. Those of you with fond memories of Boeing will be
If you want to understand what has happened to Boeing in the last
20 years, (I retired in 1990 & things were fine then) and have an hour of
(it's 20 pages long and I got to pg. 10 the first sitting), take a
read of Bob's article
attachment (its' overly long, but worth an hour of your time). I never knew
the gentleman or where he was in the company, but he was somewhere where he
really understood what it took to make a program a success. Supplier
management really hits home - so do the schedules. So do placing techinical
types into top management positions, even planners, instead of finance types
and humanitarians. But as to what can be done now - maybe all of those
concerned should volunteer to go go back and bail them out. Are you
The 777 program had a culture, as you say, of bringing ideas up from
below, early in the program, to make adjustments upstream involving
suppliers, customers, FAA and others. The 787 has a culture of
paralysis and indecision. Why is that?
An engineer told me this story. He told his supervisor, “The supplier I monitor will not make their delivery date.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve worked on many programs. I know what to look for. I talk to them
on the phone, I’ve been to their facility, I know their resources –
they won’t make their delivery date.”
“Have they missed a date, yet?”
“Tell me when they miss a date.”
The engineer was furious, but he acknowledged the cultural message
inherent in his supervisor’s attitude. I told this story to senior 787
management. Their immediate reaction was, “Give me the name of the
supervisor!” I said, no partly because I had no idea who the supervisor
was, but mostly because they had missed my point.
The supervisor did what he did because he was a smart guy. He knew that
the engineer’s information was an invitation for career damage. Suppose
the supervisor accepted the report. The business model has no structure
for acting on that information. The business model assumes success. The
business model is based on contractual commitments between Boeing and
the supplier. In the 787 business model, the supervisor has no
recourse, even if be accepts the advance warning from the engineer.
Similarly, the second level supervisor has no recourse. Even the
program leaders I was talking to had no recourse, in the 787 business
model, to act on information about pending problems. The 787 business
model has no room for coordination costs. That’s the whole point of the
787 business model. Write a contract. Give them their performance
specifications. Snap the parts together.
This will quickly create a culture of indecision and paralysis.
To this day, engineers express frustration that the changes required
now fall to them at Boeing, requiring duplication of effort, rework,
and redesign. Even so, the computer tracking systems, decision-making
processes and lines of authority have never been shifted to Boeing –
everything is done on an ad hoc basis, and takes many times the effort
and expense that it should. The fundamental business model has never
been changed, and the culture it breeds cannot change in isolation.
In the 777 program, change and authority and relationships were built
into the program’s culture. The 777 business model put Boeing in a
decision-making position, and the other stakeholders were involved in
close coordination. The 777 business model said, “Let’s get all the
coordination costs in, upstream, where they are manageable and cheap.”
That business model promoted a working together culture.
The 787 business model assigned authority and responsibility to
suppliers. We gave them inadequate direction, poor oversight, no
feedback, and let them fail at great cost. Now, we are paying the
coordination costs downstream where they are messy, expensive and slow.
The business model determines the program’s culture.
Outsourcing is not the issue, exactly. The program will work if it can do 3 things:
- Produce the best possible plan,
- Build in awareness of progress to the plan (meeting schedule, as you say) or timely awareness of deviation from the plan, and
- Reallocate resources to get back on plan.
These conditions all require a capable and effective technical design and manufacturing community.
The 787 business model failed in all three. Predictably. The 777
program succeeded in all three. Both had a lot of outsourcing, although
the 787 has a lot more outsourcing. Personally, I think all three
requirements represent vertical integration, and they argue for less
outsourcing rather than more.
I believe a great project, that was
a hallmark for Boeing and left may USAF staff grateful, was Minuteman.
I believe your rant has missed this high point in Boeing performance.
When I hired in 20 years back the
company history was understated and I believe an opportunity was lost
to create the huge success and pride attitude and expectation. I ran
into at attitude from the top that was "any good leader could manage
anything". I was blessed with excellent technical management but could
not believe the pervasive nature of the leadership attitude that
"technical skills were not special or necessary". Those great
technical managers carried the day, got noting for the effort, and
eventually retired. Some of your observations should be attributed to
the new attitude that was inflicted on my teachers 20 year back.
Also please note, for military
projects, that the USAF has de-staffed its technical capability and
abandoned its Mil-Spec controls. A technically weak customer has set
the industry into free-fall. With no real clarity in requirements a
door has opened for the lawyer mentality managers to avoid building
adequate products. I am so tired of hearing "what is the requirement"
instead of "what does our customer need".
Sorry to say it, but both Boeing and its military customers are less capable than
in the past. Our country needs to get those skills back in play.
Please note Boeing's competition in
Military is very aggressive but slow. All the big projects take much
longer than seems reasonable. The major programs are all running very
late or with significant overruns. Our free world industries ability
to turn an idea into reality is much reduced from the good old days.
Good Days for You
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