Finally . . . Boeing CEO Departs

In yet another example of how corporate boards cannot move decisively, after over a year of shoes dropping because of two crashes of the 737MAX, Boeing’s CEO has departed to spend more time with his family or whatever cover story given. That Boeing made a mistake in the design of the aircraft was a problem. However, the tin ear of now former CEO, Dennis A. Muilenburg, to the issues and scope of the crisis was stunning to watched as the clock ticked and the hits kept coming, financially and mistake-wise.

During the Q & A in a speech in May, a participant asked if Boeing’s CEO should be fired. The Barometer’s response, “I am mystified as to what the board [of Boeing] is thinking. He needs to go.”
Those who preside over the missteps at any company cannot buy credibility with customers or regulators. They were there. They are responsible, and they lack moral authority to assure. When a continuing CEO seems to exacerbate the problems as their idea of crisis management, they REALLY need to go.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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2 Responses to Finally . . . Boeing CEO Departs

  1. Conrad Kimball says:

    Re: “They are responsible” … If the flawed design decisions were made prior to Dennis becoming CEO, is it correct to blame him for something that occurred before he took the reins? Dennis became CEO July 2015; first flight of the MAX was January 2016. Design to first flight takes well more than 6 months so the design flaw almost certainly was introduced before he became CEO.

    One might make other arguments for replacing Dennis, but “he was responsible” doesn’t pass the smell test.

  2. mmjdiary says:

    Pardon me– The reason your CEO was sacked had nothing to do with the design or production of the 737MAX. He was sacked because of:

    Ridiculous responses to two fatal crashes, including legalistic platitudes
    As documented here, allowing the slow drip-drop of bad news
    Not getting a firm grip on all the issues with what folks knew and when
    Not understanding the complexity of Boeing and the FAA being inextricably intertwined

    The crashes happened on his watch. The crisis management happened on his watch. He did not behave like a innocent man suddenly cognizant of the misdeeds of others. He behaved like a man trying to build a liability defense and just rely on throwing the FAA under the bus. The FAA is not without blame in the whole scenario. His management post-crash, of everything between the first and second crash and then all events post-second crash was callous and shocking. Smell test? When CEOs make problems worse, regardless of when or who, they need to go.

    One of Boeing’s problems in all of this is evident in your note – stop parsing, excusing, explaining, data-loading, finger-pointing and just own up to the problem and move forward. Neither your former leader nor you have been willing to do that.

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