Soon to celebrate a 100-year anniversary, The Boeing Company was founded in 1916 and had 28 people on its payroll. Today, The Boeing Company has more than 170,000 employees, in 50 states and 70 countries and is the largest manufacturer of commercial airplanes and military aircraft (“The Boeing Company,” 2012). Boeing is structured around a business model that sets it apart from other companies. This model consists of six parts. They are chart the course, set high expectations, inspire others, find a way, live Boeing values, and deliver results.
These six parts fall into the four categories of trust, conflict resolution, commitment, and accountability. Every Boeing facility adheres to this model, whether it is the Commercial Division or the Defense/Space Division. This is called the “One Boeing” approach with everyone working together for the common goal. Following this business model has allowed Boeing to become an industry leader. Employees are encouraged to work together and to trust and respect one another. Communications are expected to be honest, candid, and open. Above all, integrity and ethics are insisted upon.
Every employee makes an ethics commitment each year. Boeing fosters an atmosphere were issues are focused on, not titles or positions. New ideas and ways to do things are welcomed and implemented if possible. Goals and objectives are clear and teams work together to define steps to get there. Quality is also focused upon an expected. If a quality defect is found, Boeing and its employees step up immediately even when it is uncomfortable to do so because it is the right thing to do, always. Diversity is celebrated and each person’s skills and strengths are added to the knowledge base.
Even though there is an official hierarchy, Boeing continues its cultural theme into communication by keeping an open-door policy. Employees know that they can take their questions and concerns to anyone, even the president and CEO of Boeing, without fear of retribution. Internally, employees receive news updates every day via e-mail. These updates may include information on new customer contracts or aircraft deliveries, or they may include articles on individual or team accomplishments. There are weekly and monthly video broadcasts within each division, Commercial and Defense, that give a status of the company and on-going projects.
Externally, Boeing maintains an extensive public website, advertises in magazines and on television (with actual employees doing the acting), and even publishes its own Frontiers magazine that is available to the public online and printed for customers, suppliers, and employees (“Frontiers Online Magazine,” 2012). Boeing sites also support their local communities. Employees volunteer their time with many charities and events, such as Earth Day clean-up projects, Habitat for Humanity, food banks, and education programs with local school children.
When recent, weather related, incidents tore through the Midwest and damaged some of the homes of its employees, Boeing sites around the country immediately pooled together to send household goods and monies to help their fellow coworkers. Sites near to the affected areas sent people to help. It is not unusual for the Boeing family to pull together to help each other. The company’s core values are not just a flowery statement to satisfy customers and shareholders. Boeing’s values are the core of its business and its employees.
There was recently a defective electrical panel found on a military aircraft as it was about to take its first flight. Boeing employees were mobilized within minutes of notification and had a replacement unit en route within an hour. An investigation was conducted and safeguards put in place to ensure the error never occurred again. In April 2011, a Southwest Airlines plane made an emergency landing in Arizona when a hole developed in the fuselage. Within minutes of the incident, thousands of Boeing personnel were already working on the problem.
That particular airplane had been in service for 15 years, yet every Boeing employee stepped up to stand behind the product. These examples illustrate that Boeing and its employees live the Boeing values every day. With an established organizational culture that emphasizes working together as one cohesive unit and with open honest communications, it is no wonder that Boeing and its employees have set themselves apart as an industry leader. As stated on the Boeing website, “…our culture mirrors the heritage of aviation itself, built on a foundation of innovation, aspiration and imagination.