Boeing’s Lesson That Our Government Should Learn From

My current read is a book by Tyler Cowen. Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero. It is described as “An Against-the-grain polemic on American Capitalism.” I am enjoying this book, especially because it reinforces my experience working for a large company. My career at Boeing was fruitful, and my experience with Boeing was positive. Boeing is not by any stretch of the imagination a perfect company, but it was a good one to work for.

Today’s WSJ had a very interesting article about Boeing today. “Boeing to Solicit Overseas Blessing For 737 Mac Fix.” The article goes on to explain that this is not normal for Boeing, but with shareholders now suing the company it is a necessary step to restore its reputation with its customers.

The trust issue that Boeing is having with its customers may not be just because of the Max, it may represent a greater resentment that culture has with those in a position of status. The police throughout the United States are struggling with its relationship in communities. The incident in Chicago is probably an exemplar of this. Our politicians have lost, and continue to lose, our respect. Instead of finding ways to positively lead our country they investigate even though we are tired of the phony charades and narratives created by both sides of the aisle. Even the Evangelical church has taken a hit because of how a part of the church supported Trump. All around our country Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) has kicked in creating a negative vibe impacting normally cogent individuals.

Tyler Owen in his book discusses the 2016 Gallop poll about the “relative trust Americans have in a variety of institutions.” Congress was on the bottom, which is no surprise to me. Zero of us trust congress a great deal, while only 6% trust congress quite a lot. I am not too sure what these phrases meant to the researchers, but congress’s abhorrent reputation is even lower than the President’s. Big business is the second lowest, third lowest is the news media, and then we have the criminal justice system. Our society does not trust those in power of status.

Boeing recognizes the problem it has with the trust of its customers and sees this overseas blessing as necessary to restore confidence in its product. Andy Pasztor, Andrew Tangel, and Robert Wall describe this in their article, “The strategy stems from a recognition by Boeing’s management and agency leaders that an impartial, outside group’s endorsement is essential to restore trust in the planes.” Some would see this as extreme, but I think it is a wise move. The leadership of Boeing in the aerospace industry has been damaged, therefore there needs to be some serious work done to repair Boeing’s reputation. Boeings stock is down, and its 737 Max has been grounded for a month, this is a huge hit to their bottom-line. This is why Boeing stockholders are suing the company.

This event, and the disgusting behavior of our politicians, got me thinking about what is needed for those in power and status to restore trust between themselves and the rest of us normal people?

First, I think the powers-that-be need to recognize that it took us years to get to this point, it will take a while to repair the situation. Second, there needs to be some recognition of the mistakes done. Biden did invade personal space, Trump did say some atrocious things, Warren did use her 1/1264th heritage to get ahead, and many others. Third, some may need to step down for the good of the whole. Maybe Trump, AOC and Ilhan need to step down for the good of the whole? Fourth, a sincere apology for bad behavior is critical. I have a fantasy where Pelosi and Trump stand up before the nation in a joint media event and tell everyone how sorry they are about their infantile behavior and all though they don’t agree on everything will work to find compromise that will be the best for all the country.

I do think Boeing is trying to repair its reputation. I know the motivation is part financial, but we live in changing times. More is demanded of companies by the consumer. We want a high-quality product, at a decent price, made in an ethical manner.

I agree with Tyler Cowen’s premise that American business has certain virtues. In fact, Boeing works hard to ensure it has a diverse workforce, paid a competitive wage, with the best benefits available. I know they provide that because they did for me. They paid for all of my education from BS to PhD. I am very pleased with my career at Boeing. Even as I say this, I know the comeback for Boeing will be difficult. As will the comeback of our political leaders.

It will take good management of systems. The productivity of our country is always higher when we have good leadership. When this occurs then trust will increase. We will be able to delegate to our political employees much easier if we trust them. Boeing and American business in general “has never been more productive, more tolerant, and more cooperative” than right now. Boeing has been productive for years and will regain its form. Will our government? I hope so, because we are all paying the price right now for our poor leadership.

And that is my thought for the day!

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