Comments on "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 management change.

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 is.
How many will agree to sign a communication? Count me in.


Bogie,
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 lessons well.

-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.

Bob, 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 in trouble.
You started something- I am happy to participate  -  it is worthwhile.  Do not give up


Bob,

 

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??

 

Great job,

Hi Bob,
 
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 wonders.
 
I hope you send your message to those that matter ..all the board of directors need to see it.
 
Thanks again.



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 to help.

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 partners-&-partners.  No 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 configuration.

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.


Bob,

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
volunteer work.

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 is today.
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.


Wow!  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 current problems.
 
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 article.

Thank you
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.
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 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.  


Bob,

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 holding up.

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 here.  When 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 since then.

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 deficient.

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
strategy).



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.)



Right on!!!!



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 process. 
 
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 forfeit.
 
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.


 

Bob,

I 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 leaving. 

 What’s really missing is replacement of Carson and Albaugh – the two most recent disasters as CEOs.  

 



Bob,

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.



Hi Bob:

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 stupid decisions.

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.


Bob,

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.


Hi Bob,

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 ! !

 




Bob,

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 from there.
 
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 me know. 



Bob,
 
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 a difference.
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 there.
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 beginning.
I'm praying for the company, because they need it.


Bob,

It's an interesting tome. Have you thought of sending to Mr. McNerney
"as-is"?

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 anonymous.
 
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!


Bob,

 

JM  forwarded your 12/13/08 email to me.  I just finished reading it with increasing sadness.  Fascinating – great work.

 

In 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. 

 

When 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.

 

But 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.

 

With 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. 

 

I had 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.”

 

Well, other than that, I don’t have strong feelings in the matter.

 

I 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 an A-bomb.



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)





Bob,

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
over.
Personally, I think things started going south about the time Boeing began trying to not recognize individuals as heroes and standouts. Instead, it
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
examples.


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 Boeing employee.



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 contest.
 
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"




I 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 devices


I 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.
His comments:

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. Pete


Dear Bob,
 
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 you.
 
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, term.
 
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!
 


Bob ,

 
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 suppliers."

The real 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.



J
eez, 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. 

Total dribble.

 
Bob,

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.

Some 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.
Bob,

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 programming overnight.


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 world?
 
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 1:01 PM
Subject: Challenges and accomplishments during 2008

***This message is being sent by Scott Carson, president and CEO of Commercial Airplanes, to all Commercial Airplanes employees.***

 

Challenges and 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:

 

  • Record backlog, surpassing 3,700 jetliners this is because BCA didn’t deliver what was promised in 2008
  • New milestones: 1,400th 747 delivery, 700th 777 delivery, 5,000th order for the Next-Generation 737
  • First P-8A Poseidon rollout and delivery to IDS but does this weapon system work?
  • Major structural and systems tests successfully completed on the 787 Dreamliner scheduled for completion in 2007
  • Rollout and flight testing of the first 777 Freighter - late
  • Startup of 747-8 major assembly - late
  • Continued focus on improving response time for customers’ urgent requests through our 24/7 Operations Center been doing this since 2006
  • Completion and delivery of the first 767-300 Boeing Converted Freighter, 1 of 26 freighter conversions during the year not competitive with IAI freighter conversion
  • Created a 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 place?
  • Reached 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 here comes Detroit
  • All business units demonstrated innovation, flexibility and a solid commitment to Lean+ principles in support of new and existing programs - BS
  • Reaffirmed our environmental leadership by collaborating on demonstration flights using sustainable biofuels and advanced air traffic management concepts
  • Supported 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 works

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 ourselves. 

 

Scott



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 saddened.




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 free time,
 (it's 20 pages long and I got to pg. 10 the first sitting), take a read of   Bob's article below.


Read Bogash's 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 ready?

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?”

“No.”

“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:
  1. Produce the best possible plan,
  2. Build in awareness of progress to the plan (meeting schedule, as you say) or timely awareness of deviation from the plan, and
  3. 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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