It remains unclear to the Barometer why employees feel free to spout off in e-mails. Feel free to schedule meetings, ask questions about shipments, and even grouse about the break room mess or someone swiping your lunch from the fridge. However, yammering away on e-mail about disagreements on product designs, development, and evolving customer issues may be a risky proposition.
The latest lesson on e-mail dangers comes from exchanges that involved Boeing employees, including the 737MAX chief technical pilot who wrote (and sent) the following:”I want to stress the importance of holding firm that there will not be any type of simulator training required. Boeing will not allow that to happen. We’ll go toe to toe with any regulator who tries to make that a requirement.”
And there was this response from an employee as the difficulties in developing simulators for training emerged, “Our arrogance is our demise.” Ouch.
Boeing and Holman Jenkins Jr. of the Wall Street Journal have taken a “move along, folks, nothing to see here” approach to the e-mails. Here’s some convoluted reasoning: The e-mails on training have nothing to do with design. The training was necessary to compensate for the design issues with the plane. It seems that the training/simulator folks came late to the 737MAX debacle. The chatter came from other segments of the company. Mr. Jenkins wonders where these employees were in the design phase — the Barometer guesses they were working in other parts of the company. Not all employees were in on the design discussions or production. They came late, too late, but not by design it were, and certainly were not compensating for their supposed failure to speak up earlier.
The chatter about training shows knowledge at that point of an issue with design that had to be fixed. Yet, the fix was not imminent. There is no good way to look at the admissions in the “training” e-mails.
And here’s one more e-mail defense of Boeing that is one for the textbooks: There were 10 million safe landings and only 2 crashes. True enough, but, as the Barometer always explains to students, “Dying customers is always bad for business,” whether by design or training.
Holman Jenkins, Jr., “Boeing Emails Explain Nothing,” Wall Street Journal,” January 15, 2020, p. A15.
Andy Pasztor and Alison Sider, “Chatter at Boeing Undercuts Its Defense of MAX Stance,”Wall Street Journal,” January 11, 2020, p. A12.