Finally: Boeing Fires CEO Of Commercial Airplanes

Filed Under: Misc.

Boeing has had a really rough year with the grounding of the 737 MAX globally following two fatal crashes. That was bad enough, but all the scandals that have emerged following this have left a lot of us in shock regarding the culture of what was once a very respected company.

One surprising thing has been the lack of senior management changes in the past several months. Well, it looks like that’s finally happening.

It has today been announced that Kevin McAllister is stepping down from his role as President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He’s being replaced by Stan Deal effective immediately. Deal joined Boeing in 1986, and was previously President and CEO of Boeing Global Services.

This decision comes just a day after Boeing’s board had a meeting.

Boeing President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the following:

“Our entire Boeing team is focused on operational excellence, aligned with our values of safety, quality and integrity, and we’re committed to delivering on our commitments and regaining trust with our regulators, customers and other stakeholders.

Stan brings extensive operational experience at Commercial Airplanes and trusted relationships with our airline customers and industry partners; and Ted brings to our Global Services business an enterprise approach to customers and strong digital business expertise — a key component of our long-term growth plans.”

McAllister had the following to say regarding this departure from the company:

“Boeing is a great company with a commitment to safety I have seen firsthand working side-by-side with many thousands of tremendously talented and dedicated employees. It has been an honor to serve with such a professional team for the past three years.”

Bottom Line

I’ve been amazed by how few senior executives at Boeing have been fired up until this point. On some level it’s not even about whether they’re directly at fault for this mess (even though there are a lot of questions about Boeing’s corporate culture at this point), but rather about the amount of public trust that has been lost in the company, which seems almost irreparable at this point.

We’ve seen the 737 MAX issue only get worse and worse, and it’s clear some serious leadership changes are needed. Frankly I’m surprised Muilenburg is still in his role.

Are you surprised by how few senior management changes we’ve seen at Boeing?

Comments
  1. if he only got fired, and not arrested, it’s still too easy on him — and on the other board members who still have jobs even though they lied to the public and caused two tragedies

  2. Mutually Assured Destruction in the C-Suite may be the reason it took so long for changes to occur.

    And I wonder how long it will take to report the serverence package?

  3. Article — “Frankly I’m surprised Muilenburg is still in his role.” —

    Well … he *did* get booted as Chairman of the Board and (for now) keeps the CEO title. After Boeing gets over its MAX issues, then there could be an orderly transition for Muilenburg to exit. It’s *not* wise to ditch the entire existing management team in the middle of a major crisis!

  4. @chico luz
    “if he only got fired, and not arrested, it’s still too easy on him“

    Boeing is a PLC therefore he can’t be arrested as CEO’s have limited liability.

  5. This company, similar to WeWork as a company, is shocking. We are talking about “billions” of dollars down the tube. Amazing to read about the demise of these mega companies.

  6. @BillC – Even if the management team created such crisis???

    @1987 – Nothing is shocking in this day and age of donald trump. Want to talk about billions of dollars down the tube (other people’s obviously, not his money)? Look no further than the White House. Not to mention zero accountability (just like Boeing).

  7. @1987, while I agree the list of issues at WeWork is stunning (and don’t even get me started on their valuation), comparing them to Boeing and the MAX issues is ridiculous. As Joe pointed out, people died from their product, lack of due diligence, and perceived cover up. Firing is not enough for these execs, they need jail time.

  8. @Sad State of Our Nation — “Even if the management team created such crisis???” —

    Yes! Especially when this is the case, because the ones who created such a crisis should be the ones who need to “responsibly” clean up after their own $#!+ … besides, they already know all of the key players who will need to engage in such clean up, anyway!

    After the mess is fixed, then they can be properly “exited” out!

  9. @Sad State of Our Nation — “Want to talk about billions of dollars down the tube (other people’s obviously, not his money)? Look no further than the White House.”

    So you want to bring POLITICS into this forum (AGAIN) — then you need to be MORE SPECIFIC with your accusations against Trump, because making nebulous accusations (just as with anonymous accusers and leakers) merely exposes YOU as being a partisan hack WITHOUT any intellect!

    Best if you do NOT bring ANY politics into this forum, in order to minimize back-and-forth Flame Wars!

  10. Never liked McAllister. You’d thought they learned from the disastrous Jim McNerney experience (he who passed up the new airplane for the MAX) that GE makes a terrible breeding ground for senior management. There were lots more internal candidates that would have been suitable for McAllister’s position and Stan Deal is definitely one of them. Met him a few times and he always came across as technically solid and honest. Hopefully this is the start of a complete C suite overhaul and agree completely with BillC – how has Muilenburg survived?

  11. It’s about time something happened, the company can’t look like it’s doing nothing.

    Now if AA’s board would learn, necessary change has been apparent for years…

  12. They still need scapegoats for the upcoming bad news. That’s why they don’t want to bring in new people just yet.

  13. @skedguy — “… how has Muilenburg survived?” —

    I just remembered something else … Boeing’s CEO is actually in charge of several Business Units (Commercial, Military, Space, etc), so it might *not* be in the corporation’s best interests to get rid of the CEO on account of mishaps from one Business Unit … hence getting rid of the CEO of Commercial might be the appropriate move, anyway, assuming that there are also appropriate replacement personnel to take his place directly and efficaciously!

  14. I’m willing to make a big bet:
    Boeing will finalize the Embraer-Deal by the end of the year and present a new ‘Boeing’-aircraft within the next year. Of course it has been developed by the Brazilians before. Boeing is not paying a hefty sum just to get their hands on the maxed-out E2-Series while Airbus gets the CSeries with it’s extraordinary growth-potential for the symbolic price of 1$.
    Embraer has some great engineering-talent and most likely a new design nearly-ready which is above the current E195-E2 size.

  15. Is it just me that believes Boeing would be much better under Alan Mulally.

    @1987
    Can’t blame WeWork too much, it was already building on bad foundation. SoftBank is the real joke. SoftBank is doubling down on this scam by paying a $1.7 parachute. I guess this fund has No Vision (pun intended) anymore. I guess Travis Kalanick or Uber doesn’t suck bad enough for Son. Maybe 3rd strike with DoorDash????
    Next big joke Airbnb IPO, you have been warned.

  16. 346 dead and he’ll be sipping umbrella drinks on a private beach for the rest of his life. American dream in the flesh y’all.

  17. BS the Board should have started “top down” not bottom up. Hope Muilenburg is proud of himself. Real solution is have AB private label planes for Boeing

  18. It is NOT surprising that so few have been fired. The USA was once the leader in corporate ethics, accountability, real auditing ( as opposed to the pathetic, corrupt rubbish frequently seen today), genuine, appropriate regulation, and so on.
    Leadership in those areas has long since past to Europe.

  19. @ghostrider5408 — “BS the Board should have started “top down” not bottom up.” —

    That’s what happened, with the removal of the CEO of Boeing Commercial!

    Are you *not* aware that Muilenburg is CEO of the Boeing (conglomerate) Company, with many Business Units? *Why* do you feel that removing Muilenburg is necessary, at this time, given that he’s already lost his position as Chairman of the Board, and that the CEO of Boeing Commercial has already been removed? Removing Muilenburg as overall (conglomerate) CEO, at this time, will damage the operations of other (unrelated) Boeing Business Units! How does damaging those other (unrelated) Business Units help Boeing, overall?

  20. @Max — “Embraer has some great engineering-talent and most likely a new design nearly-ready which is above the current E195-E2 size.”

    Somehow I think that the 737-MAX family has much greater ranges and passenger capacities than future Embraer E195-E2++ models that are either currently under development or planned for future development. However, if Boeing can entice Embraer to embark upon a crash program to do what you suggested, that might be an interesting alternative — meaning that Boeing’s NMA project could then shift over to Embraer for development!

  21. As much as I massively dislike Muilenberg, he says he’s only been there 3 years. The 737 MAX introduction happened in 2014 before he took the role. Just a question, but doesn’t this mean the development issues didn’t happen while he was there?

  22. The jobs most immune to accountability in the US is public company CEO followed by its BOD.Boeing needs a CEO change as well as a full revamp of the BOD

  23. The reason the management is still there is its not their fault. The Max 8 issue had nothing to do with faulty Max 8 software which was very agressively Validated and Verfiied during development.

  24. The head of the 737 Max was never been questioned. He knows a lot of answers. You can find him on LinkedIn: Keith Leverkuhn. He was selected by the former CEO of the commercial airplane division, Ray Conner. Ray was also the one hired Kevin McAllister in Nov 2016.

  25. @Nate — “… doesn’t this mean the development issues didn’t happen while he was there?” —

    Yes! But our culture has too much invested in finding *Scapegoats* and, as too often happens, good leaders get caught up in this trap and the corporation gets damaged in the process! We now have a culture that is overly social mob-driven with political correctness, often with NO justifications, whatsoever, than to make the mob feel “good” about themselves!

    BTW — perhaps this is one of the mitigating reasons *Why* Boeing did *Not* remove Muilenburg as CEO of Boeing (conglomerate) Company, although he *Did* lose his Chairmanship of the Board!
    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    @Marcus — “Boeing needs a CEO change as well as a full revamp of the BOD” —

    Uh … NO! You should read prior posts about this issue in order to get a better overall perspective on this!

  26. Muilenberg may not have been around when the 737Max was ‘designed’ (read: mounting oversized engines on an airframe that was designed during the Vietnam aggression), but he surely was around during the time where the issues were kept under wraps and where people got killed.
    In any case the one sho was around during the problem is not the one who suddenly will mysteriously fix the problem so in any case Boeing will need fresh leadership to get themselves out of this self inflicted mess.

  27. I think it’s going to be a very long time before this plane flies again, if ever. Having the FAA and Boeing under their heel is delicious schadenfreude for European regulators.

  28. @BillC

    Yes! But our culture has too much invested in finding *Scapegoats* and, as too often happens, good leaders get caught up in this trap and the corporation gets damaged in the process! We now have a culture that is overly social mob-driven with political correctness, often with NO justifications, whatsoever, than to make the mob feel “good” about themselves!

    The same stupid reason we lost the great President Frank Underwood, a true talent.
    This has left wing PC has gone too far left, someone needs to stop it.

  29. More heads need to roll IMHO. This is so typical for a big company, the Boss (Muilenburg) blames his subordinate (Deal) for his screwups and then serves him up as the proverbial sacrificial lamb shouldering him with all the blame. Clearly, no accountability in the C-Suite on Wacker Dr.

  30. @James
    “Boeing is a PLC therefore he can’t be arrested as CEO’s have limited liability.”

    thanks, didn’t know that

  31. I will be accused of being totally heartless but every project has a built-in cost. Most if not all major construction projects have an unofficial estimate of lives lost during construction due to industrial accidents. A recent building collapse I think demonstrates that accidents or engineering errors are always as part of any undertaking that either advances technology or extends the scope of a previous undertaking. One will never know the number of lives that were lost in the construction of the Berg Dubai for example.

    All airplane manufacturers have experienced major failures in their new designs. Douglas pranged a few DC-10’s (massive loss of life) before they redesigned and rebranded it as the MD-11. Still flying though mostly in freighter versions. A single DC-10 crash has the same number of fatality numbers as the two 737 Max crashes.

    Airbus is not exempt. In the early days of the A320 series there were a number of crashes in India that didn’t cause a major uproar because they were blamed on pilot error but were probably problems with their new fly-by-wire software. But they were only in India and that was before extensive international news organizations and the instantaneous coverage of the internet.

    There was the deHaviland Comet. And the Bristol Britannica. and the list does go on.

    I hope the Max survives as if it doesn’t the only airplanes that we will be able to fly will be made in Europe, China or perhaps Russia. I hope that in trying to restore passenger confidence in the airplane they improve its attractiveness by redesigning the interiors to provide at least an acceptable passenger experience as opposed to the “sardines in a can” experience currently provided.

    Or maybe they’ll stretch the C series made in Canada :-).

  32. Hi Lucky,

    I would like your advice on a mileage run: I signed up for an AA promotion for Executive Platinum status. To qualify, I need to get 1,570 EQD and 13,050 EQM by November 26, 2019. It has to be AA marketed flight so Cathay, BA, Iberia can operate it. What is the cheapest, simple way to do this?

    Thanks,
    Shah

  33. Hi Lucky,

    I would like your advice on a mileage run: I signed up for an AA promotion for Executive Platinum status. To qualify, I need to get 1,570 EQD and 13,050 EQM by November 26, 2019. It has to be AA marketed flight so Cathay, BA, Iberia can operate it. What is the cheapest, simple way to do this? I am in NYC and have a flexible schedule!

    Thanks,
    Shah

  34. @Dennis — “I think @BillC might actually be *Dennis Muilenburg*” —

    LMAO! If only this were true! I definitely wouldn’t mind getting his level of compensation! 😛

  35. @Azamaraal — “I hope that in trying to restore passenger confidence in the airplane they improve its attractiveness by redesigning the interiors to provide at least an acceptable passenger experience as opposed to the ‘sardines in a can’ experience currently provided.” —

    The aircraft interiors are selected by the customer airlines, so Boeing probably can’t do too much about this issue …

    But I do agree with the other perspectives in your post! 🙂

  36. @Eskimo — “The same stupid reason we lost the great President Frank Underwood, a true talent.” —

    Is Frank Underwood a fictional character in House of Cards? Believe it or not, I’ve never seen a single episode of that Series … but I would most likely agree with you, anyway …

    As for our overly PC-based culture, perhaps more people should use Apple Macs, instead? [Sorry about this … just couldn’t resist!] 😛

  37. Again – management at VW are in prison for lying about emission standards. If everybody at Boeing walks with a slap on the wrist and no prison time over this clusterf*** of a disaster and coverup, something is seriously wrong.

  38. @ James
    “ Boeing is a PLC therefore he can’t be arrested as CEO’s have limited liability.”

    That’s not right: the limited liability refers to shareholders in a company not being personally responsible if a corporation goes bust — but, even there, if they have been negligent or fraudulent they lose the protection.

    Staff of a corporation do usually benefit from what in some jurisdictions is called the “corporate veil” — things that happen within the company are generally the company’s rather than the individual’s fault. But, again, fraudulent, negligent or otherwise criminal behaviour is exempt. As a staff member you can be prosecuted as an individual if you can be fingered.

    I’m intrigued that some people are arguing that only the head of the commercial division should be fired, and the CEO shouldn’t be responsible because he’s in charge of lots of divisions. But… the head of the commercial division is responsible for *all* the commercial aircraft, including those going well — so, by the same logic, surely he also isn’t responsible? It should be the person who is solely responsible as head of the MAX project?

    But … whatever happened to the rule of a former US President — that, as the big boss, “the buck stops here”? I’ve no idea if it’s the case here, but there’s a certain cowardice about throwing your junior staff to the wolves in order to save yourself, no?

  39. @Mogens — “Again – management at VW are in prison for lying about emission standards. If everybody at Boeing walks with a slap on the wrist and no prison time over this clusterf*** of a disaster and coverup, something is seriously wrong.” —

    OK … here’s the issue — it’s always *Middle Management* (which we *Never* hear about) that makes all of those ASININE decisions and end up screwing the corporation on so many levels! So what good is it to put *Executive Management* in jail while all those *Incompetent* Middle Managers get away with (no pun intended) “murder,” only to repeat their ASININE mistakes and decisions at their next job positions? Usually it’s *Not* Executive Management that does direct oversights of specific Program Executions, anyway!

    I say that Boeing needs to bring in OUTSIDE expert examiners to evaluate the situations surrounding this incident from Top to Bottom and THEN determine those Middle Managers who were DIRECTLY responsible for those ASININE decisions and hold THEM accountable in the harshest terms (including jail time if Due Process so determines)! Afterwards, Executive Management can then get punished through various other methods, including termination of employment, transfer of positions, fines, or even jail time, if Due Process so determines!

    Too often chopping off the heads of Executive Management is a totally MEANINGLESS SYMBOLIC GESTURE merely to appease those Social Mobs, but does NOTHING to ACTUALLY solve the inherent corporate internal problems at hand!

  40. @The nice Paul — “… so, by the same logic, surely he also isn’t responsible? It should be the person who is solely responsible as head of the MAX project?” —

    Well … just *how* is wantonly getting rid of an otherwise competent and effective Executive Manager who oversees many other parallel projects going to help the corporation, especially if those parallel projects are critical to the future of Boeing (eg, 777-X and presumed 797)? So Yes — the *specific* Program Management personnel *directly* responsible for the MAX product must bear the brunt of accountability for the MAX mis-steps! As I stated above, other methods of punishing higher Executives, should Due Process so determine, can be effected in various ways that can still protect those other critical parallel projects for the future!

    Otherwise, wantonly engaging in wholesale purging of upper Executive Management will merely amount to Scapegoating in order to pacify Social Mobs and accomplish *Nothing* to resolve underlying project management incompetency within the MAX project group! Besides — *Why* should unrelated groups working on 777-X or presumed 797 developments need to indiscriminately suffer for the screw-ups of the MAX group?

    However, this said, if Due Process determines that certain upper Executive Management had *Direct* Influences (ie, Meddling) over Program-level decisions regarding MCAS functionalities and designs, then this entire picture changes, such that those imparting direct influences will then become culpable!

    Wouldn’t this be a more *Fair* approach towards overall Accountability?

  41. Would be good if he got charged with the murder of over 300 innocent people. It’s because of him and his decision that 2 MAX aircraft crashed (and the rest got grounded). But I guess that won’t happen, because ‘Murica and money talks there, and Boeing is too big to fail, so it can’t have an even bigger scandal than it already has today. Because people might lose confidence in Boeing. Oh, wait!

  42. @ BillC

    You do realise that your defensiveness on behalf of Boeing is becoming borderline psychotic…?!

    So, back to basics: I thought the CEOs of huge PLCs were paid obscenely vast sums of money because they were totally responsible for every success taking place in their company. Surely, by the same logic, they should also be totally responsible for every failure in their company? And a failure which has cost hundreds of lives, and billions of dollars, seems to me like a pretty big failure?

    You can’t be arguing both ways, right? That the CEO deserves every cent of their multi-million pay package because they are individually responsible for all the successes, but when it comes to failure, well, that has absolutely nothing to do with them — it’s all some junior’s fault?

    Hm…

    Let’s take these CEOs at their own valuation. They are superhuman individuals, worth multi-million pay packets. Presumably they set the corporate culture, are responsible for the environment in which every single member of staff operates? If the corporate culture is all about “get the damn product out of the door so we can earn as much money as possible” then, implicitly, safety and caution are less important values. We don’t know the full MAX story. What we do know is that at various steps along the way, Boeing has dissembled, kept quiet, covered-up, self-certified stuff which has proven to be sub-optimal. That sounds to me like a corporate culture that isn’t right for an industry in which safety is critical.

    So, as regards corporate culture, I would say the buck stops with the big boss.

    You, on the other hand, seem to be arguing that the big boss is an innocent, utterly ignorant of the foul doings of his minions, and a management super-hero who must remain in post at all costs because, single-handedly, he is necessary to save Boeing from corporate catastrophe. I’m just not buying that.

    I think you can make an argument that the CEO of a multinational is primarily responsible for maximising returns for shareholders, more involved in finances than in the sharp end of widget manufacture. But even if you take that argument, the group CEO has utterly failed: Boeing’s share price has dive-bombed, its losses on the MAX programme are vast and not yet capped, and the scale of its liabilities is as yet unquantified. That all sounds like financial failure to me.

    Still, I can but pray that you are an influential voice on my board when I screw up so badly. It’s good to know that there’s almost nothing I can do wrong — my job is always safe. And if things get rough, I can just toss a few more minions onto the pyre.

  43. You’re kidding me. There was a whole documentary about the guy getting lost in New York, and they trusted him with aeroplanes?

    Kidding aside, about damn time. No congressional inquiry? No jail time?

  44. @BillC

    It’s the person who portrays Frank Underwood, who was a mob victim went too far.

    @The nice Paul

    “I thought the CEOs of huge PLCs were paid obscenely vast sums of money because they were totally responsible for every success taking place in their company.”
    The amount of compensation paid doesn’t correlate to responsibility. Many CEOs get paid $0 doesn’t mean they can have a Gulfsteam and jet the world while the company valuation keeps rising.
    @The nice Paul your arguments make sense in an ideal world. But then again, in corporate world nothing is fair. @BillC is being more realistic here. And maybe USA companies do lag behind their counterparts in Europe in terms of accountability.

    By the way, one ‘real estate broker’ (cause that is really what he only did) jet the world on a Gulfstream while the company valuation keeps rising and is recently offered $1.7bn to stop when bunch of holes in the company was discovered. Not a single mention about jail or even getting fired, what a life.

  45. I know several Boeing employees and none of them want Muilenburg sacked. The culture that is responsible for this debacle is on its way out and Muilenburg is the one driving the improvements. The problem is the culture he inherited from James McNerny, who created a culture of fear and silence. McNerny said his “heart will still be beating, the employees will still be cowering”. To go from that to the current culture at the working level in only a few years is incredible. Muilenburg was the head of the defense organization when the MAX was launched, and while there are people that need to go at various heights in the organization, he’s not one of them.

  46. @The nice Paul — “You can’t be arguing both ways, right? That the CEO deserves every cent of their multi-million pay package because they are individually responsible for all the successes, but when it comes to failure, well, that has absolutely nothing to do with them — it’s all some junior’s fault?” —
    @ — “You, on the other hand, seem to be arguing that the big boss is an innocent, utterly ignorant of the foul doings of his minions, and a management super-hero who must remain in post at all costs because, single-handedly, he is necessary to save Boeing from corporate catastrophe.” —
    @ — “the group CEO has utterly failed: Boeing’s share price has dive-bombed, its losses on the MAX programme are vast and not yet capped, and the scale of its liabilities is as yet unquantified. That all sounds like financial failure to me.” —
    @ — “It’s good to know that there’s almost nothing I can do wrong — my job is always safe.” —
    ====================
    OK … you’ve misunderstood a lot of what I had posted, so let me, instead of countering you point-by-point, just summarize what the premises of my perspectives are, so that you can get a more complete picture of where I’m coming from, on this!

    I basically hold two premises on this topic —

    #1. Often top executives *Do* get removed for the mistakes of their middle-level staff, but, then, those middle-level staff might just get off without much (if any) further accountability — this is *Not* justice at all, when those middle-level staff are *Not* held to identical or similar accountability standards! Note that I do *Not* support blanket exoneration of top executives, here, but merely want to expand the scope of those who need to be held accountable into middle-level staff!

    #2. Too often, in Asian cultures where instant personal resignations from one’s job positions upon the exposure of some scandals that may *Not* even be those leaders’ faults, those entities (be they private corporations or governments) lose key talents who are next to impossible to replace, and the entity, as a whole, then suffers tremendously for that cultural act of “Ritual Resignations”!
    ———-
    Back in my legacy corporate days at many different technical/management levels, I’ve had occasions to observe #1, where fellow staff got really upset that the *Real* culprits of major scandal(s), most often Middle Management personnel, seemed to escape culpability once the “Big Boss” got removed. Too many of those who were *Not* in the loop of things always blindly assumed that getting rid of the “Big Boss” should, by definition, “Fix” everything! But the original perpetrators were *Still* there! If *Not* also properly adjudicated for identical or similar accountability, such Middle Management personnel start to act as if they’re the corporation’s own Bureaucratic Establishment (sort of like the Deep State at the USA Federal Government level). So it then becomes — “Big Bosses” come and go, but these Middle Management staffers are always around to potentially do further damages, whether by their gross *Incompetency* or *Intention*!

    So what I’m saying in such situations is that *Equal* justice needs to be meted out, not only to Upper Management, when warranted and through Due Process, but also to Middle Management, as well! Note that I did *Not* give blanket exoneration to Upper Management, since I *Did* mention that even CEOs *Can* get “punished” for their “lack of sufficient or proper” oversights over their own Business Units, should that be proven to have occurred!

    In Boeing’s case, Muilenburg has already been stripped of being Chairman of the Board, with perhaps even more adjustments to come … but we *Must* be fair, here, since Muilenburg was *Not* the CEO during the MAX development time period! Furthermore, the CEO of Boeing’s Commercial Business Unit has already been removed, as well! I would favor going much lower into the levels of Vice Presidents or Departmental Directors, but perhaps that’s already being done internally and not being publicized?
    ———-
    With respect to #2, I’ve observed that in Asia (eg, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan), corporate CEOs and government officials have a penchant to immediately resign their posts for scandals or failures that were *Not* even their fault! This is their historical way of “taking responsibility” for bad situations, but I think that they take such habits to excessive extremes! For example, it is often really *Difficult* to find great, competent, and visionary personnel in those countries to work in governmental jobs at all, and when they go through such “Ritual Resignations,” they’re actually hurting and damaging their countries rather than helping!

    Taking this back to large corporations in USA, if we were to engage in such wanton acts of “Ritual Resignations or Firings,” especially in situations where the CEO was *Not* in a Position of Responsibility during the time interval of the scandal(s), then our corporations will, sooner or later, suffer on the world’s competitive stage! Remember that *None* of our competitors will mourn such “Ritual Resignations or Firings” within our corporations! They will, instead, be cheering and celebrating their “Good Fortunes” at the weakening of our corporations!

    So I’m *Not* saying that Upper Management has blanket exoneration from scandal(s), but their punishment must be rational and *Not* based on emotional over-reactions, since that will only benefit our business competitors! Furthermore, such accountability *Must* delve down into Business Unit Middle Management staff, as well!

  47. @BillC

    So, good to see you are now shifting to a more nuanced position, where the responsibility is distributed fairly (sic) among all those in the organisation who are in positions of influence and control.

    You notably fail to address the “mega-salary=commensurate responsibility” argument, but I guess you can only go so far.

    The danger of your approach in focussing on the frontline is, of course, that it is the Nazi defence (and I use this not to equate Boeing with Nazi Germany, but because the basic legal principles were developed in international law at Nuremberg): those people in immediate positions of power carrying out atrocities are easily found guilty; but Nuremberg also had to deal with the people at the very apex of power who, apparently, hadn’t themselves got their hands dirty. They were (rightly, obviously) found guilty and hanged.

    A now well-established legal concept when dealing with corporate wrong-doing is “the controlling mind”. Here, it’s not just the coal-face workers who are blamed, but those higher up who set the organisational culture which enabled or encouraged wrong-doing, who made decisions that would more likely than not lead to bad outcomes elsewhere.

    You can also tell a lot about a company by how it reacts to crises. Companies which over-promise and under-deliver (eg, Boeing’s constantly missed deadlines for fixes, or their promise of frequent updates which seem to have evaporated), and companies which try to suppress evidence (check out those emails which emerged this week. Actually at first glance I don’t think the content is that damning – but Boeing’s failure to disclose them months ago to the regulator is), both are signs of major problems in corporate culture.

    Fast and full disclosure, especially for a company whose primary focus *must* be safety, is essential. We’re still not seeing that from Boeing. Leadership comes from the top, doesn’t it?

  48. @The nice Paul — “So, good to see you are now shifting to a more nuanced position, where the responsibility is distributed fairly (sic) among all those in the organisation who are in positions of influence and control.” —

    Actually, if read my past posts critically, you’ll find that I have *Not* changed my stance at all! I’ve *Always* complained about the *Lack* of distribution of accountability from the Top to those Lower Down! I even got wrongly accused of wanting to “pass the buck” to punish only those Lower on the totem pole, while those on Top get blanket exoneration (which is *Not* what I had said)!
    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    @ — “You notably fail to address the “mega-salary=commensurate responsibility” argument, …”

    Oops! OK … let me put it this way — Muilenburg is top-level CEO of Boeing (conglomerate) Company that encompasses many Business Units (Commercial, Military, Space, etc), so his “mega”-salary covers *More* than just oversight of the Commercial Business Unit! His salary and compensation is determined by the Board of Directors, anyway, and they get to decide just how to mete out compensation impacts. Keep in mind that Muilenburg has already been removed as Chairman of the Board, so the job position adjustment aspect appears to have already been determined! We can only speculate about his financial compensation impacts, since the Board of Directors typically will *Not* disclose that!
    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    @ — “A now well-established legal concept when dealing with corporate wrong-doing is ‘the controlling mind’ ” —

    I actually also addressed this aspect — I said that, should Upper Management be found directly culpable (eg, through direct dictates or meddling), then it *Should* be held as accountable as well as the offending Middle Management staff! As for the “bigger picture” accountability of overall corporate culture and practices, that very much depends upon the particular CEO in question, since everyone has different management styles … in Muilenburg’s case, however, this will be a much more difficult fault to “pin” upon him, since he wasn’t even in the loop during the MAX development time period!

    Also … with respect to referencing the Nuremberg Trials — that was dealing with (Intentionally Effected) Crimes Against Humanity, so I don’t think that comparing legal precedents of executing Nazi leaders *Not* directly involved in exterminating their victims, to Boeing’s current situation, is *Totally Inappropriate,* since Boeing did *Not* set out, from the outset, with any *Intent* to kill passengers riding in the MAX!
    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    @ — “You can also tell a lot about a company by how it reacts to crises.” —

    One can always claim that Boeing was “too slow” to admit/disclose information once something bad occurs, but keep in mind that, with such a humongous corporation, there *Will* be lots of departments that *Must* coordinate reports/info for public consumption (Legal, Public Relations, Finance, Marketing/Sales, Engineering, etc) in responding to such events! Therefore, things can often get totally misconstrued as “suppressions” or “coverups” when it might be more innocuous (eg, early information being somewhat “nebulous” or “too generic” due to lack of sufficient time/resources to compile more detailed and accurate reports)!

    On this issue, no matter what the CEO dictates, the *Process* of collecting and collating necessary info/data *Must* still get done before any credible responses can be made public, anyway! The CEO has *No* control over this process, except to order everyone to “hurry it up” as much as possible! So, *Not* knowing what the internal situations were at Boeing during that time period, we can only speculate about the timeliness of info releases, and can *Not* credibly accuse Boeing of engaging in “suppressions” or “coverups”!

  49. Runaway electric trim should never cause a crash… The pilots of the 2nd crash made rookie mistakes and the first crash pilots were not much better. That said Boeing made so many mistakes with MCAS including not installing a dumbed down warning system that the is plenty of blame to go around. Now fit and finish issues, delays, to 777x and 797 prototype and you must wonder what the hell is going on there…..

  50. @ BillC

    I so hope you’re getting paid a vast salary by Boeing, because otherwise your dog-like devotion to them makes you look a bit odd! If you had read my posts carefully, you would see I am not arguing for scapegoating – merely that those people who are responsible, no matter their level, should actually man-up and take responsibility. Surely that is reasonable, given the multi-million dollar packages they’ve snorted up during the good times?

    So now I’m curious: is it just Boeing that you defend to your dying breath, or are other corporations also paragons of virtue who can do no wrong?!

  51. For me the issue with Muilenberg is not his involvement with the 737 disaster as likely the drama already started before him being CEO.

    My issue with him is the total lack willingness to take the problem heads on. Instead all we have seen is denial, finger pointing, PR noise, witholding information etc etc.
    Even this morning I saw a note from Boeing that their bugs will be flying soon.

    What he should have done as CEO is take full responsibility and fully cooperate with the investigations. And certainly not pooping out press releases like rabbits are pooping out pellets.

    So he got his priorities totally wrong.

  52. @The nice Paul — “… your dog-like devotion to them makes you look a bit odd! … I am not arguing for scapegoating – merely that those people who are responsible, no matter their level, should actually man-up and take responsibility.” —

    I don’t know what part of my posts exhibit any “dog-like devotion,” since I *did* say that those in Upper Management, who have been *proven* to be directly culpable through Due Process, should suffer at least the same punishments as culpable Middle Management personnel in the Business Unit that the top-level CEO oversees! From what you just posted, what you espouse is *Not* that different from what I also espouse?
    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    @ — “is it just Boeing that you defend to your dying breath, or are other corporations also paragons of virtue who can do no wrong?!” —

    So I’m giving *my* perspectives based upon my decades of experience in the High Tech industries, both from within Engineering as well as Executive Management … my attitudes about such issues remain the same *regardless* of whether it’s Boeing or any other companies in similar situations!

    I notice that you’re *still* misinterpreting what I had repeated posted about Upper Management being held to account, should evidences warrant such actions through Due Process! I still do *Not* see where you got the impression about my purportedly claiming that corporations are *always* held to be faultless!

  53. @The nice Paul — here is an example of what I mean by Middle Management “bureaucrats” damaging/ruining a corporation’s product:

    http://www.zdnet.com/article/why-is-windows-10-a-mess-ex-microsoft-engineer-blames-the-culture-of-made-men

    When Microsoft got a new CEO in Nadella, he apparently retained the old legacy “bureaucrats” within the Windows business unit … and look at the results of that messed up decision! Should Nadella now need to get replaced, or should he start (albeit late) to clean house within the Windows business unit?

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