Managing it out of existence

I have lived in the area long enough to remember the 777 rollout. The engineering work that went into this plane was universally and justifiably praised top to bottom. I have also seen the 787 rollout, where the “Everyone, his brother, brother-in-law and cousin gets to do a bit” farming out of the type of work the 777 group did so well, had not so good results. The same with the idea of sending construction and assembly to near-mom-and-pop contractors. Remember Vought folks burning up a $20 million mandrill by using a wood pallet as a ladder? Great decision making there also. While Boeing is making a lot of money these days, it is riding on the wings of the 737 and 777, holdovers from previous management and suffering from decisions made by the current group. This bunch has paid enormous sums to get the 787 problems corrected, lost Japanese market share, and complain of having to compete with Airbus. I guess the Europeans do have a bit of an advantage, with that socialized medicine, government-funded training from high school for trade and tech staff, subsidized higher ed for engineering and management hires, strong unions, generous vacation… Oh, yeah, we were talking about how hard it is for Boeing to compete.

It appears that now, after following the failed “outsourcing” craze, they now seem caught up in the current MBA school brilliance of teaching the “Manage your business according to the Texas hold ‘em rules.” They are working extra hard to drive the Machinists Union from the table. Who is next? Their customers? Then stockholders? At the end the CEO can declare the only viable option is to sell Boeing to the highest bidder. Hey, they “succeeded” with McDonnell Douglas, why not here? Can anyone say Boeing/Airbus?

Michael Furr


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