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Vice Presidint Essay

1360 words - 6 pages

Cleaning Up Boeing
By Stanley Holmes Business Week – Case in the News [LO 1, 3, 5] Chapter 4 When W. James McNerney Jr. decided that Boeing Co.'s (BA) top managers needed a loud wake-up call, the new chief executive chose the obvious place to sound the alarm: the company's annual executive retreat on Jan. 4 and 5. A year earlier, the event had been held at the posh Mission Hills Country Club in Palm Springs, Calif., and nobody apparently had a better time than McNerney's predecessor, Harry Stonecipher. After a day devoted largely to socializing and playing golf, the former CEO, surrounded by Boeing's elite, closed down the bar and then fired up a cigar. It was at the same event that the ...view middle of the document...

The real surprises began during a breakfast speech when the normally upbeat McNerney launched into the sharpest critique of the company he had ever aired before such a large audience. Speaking without notes, McNerney said that "management had gotten carried away with itself," that too many executives had become used to "hiding in the bureaucracy," that the company had failed to "develop the best leadership." The next day, McNerney introduced General Counsel Douglas G. Bain, who really lowered the boom, railing against Boeing's pervasive "culture of silence." To grab the group's attention, Bain rattled off the federal prison numbers of two jailed former employees. "These are not Zip Codes," Bain snapped. With McNerney looking on in clear support, Bain warned the audience that many prosecutors "believe that Boeing is rotten to the core." The challenge of cleaning out the rot at the heart of Boeing is one for which McNerney, 56, has spent his entire professional life preparing. Since earning his master's degree from Harvard Business School in 1975, he has uprooted his family every two or three years in search of the next professional test. He started in brand marketing at Procter & Gamble Co. (PG), jumped to McKinsey & Co., and then

1 IE 652: Case Study 1. Business Week – Case in the News [LO 1, 3, 5] Chapter 4

climbed the ranks through General Electric Co. (GE) for 18 years, where he topped out as CEO of GE's aircraft engine business, one of Boeing's most important business partners. After losing in a threeway race to replace Jack Welch as CEO of GE, McNerney was snapped up by 3M Co. (MMM) in 2001 to turn around the struggling manufacturer. A short time later, he joined Boeing's board. Straight Arrow McNerney is a leader who both understands and cares about the aerospace giant. The series of ethical violations that surfaced at Boeing grated on the arrow-straight McNerney when he was a director, as did the fact that in 2003 the iconic company lost its status as the world's No. 1 commercial aircraft company to Airbus. Now McNerney has what he has always wanted: a chance to seal his legacy at one of America's most important companies. But to do so, he'll have to reinvent the 153,000-employee, $55 billion colossus, which, besides losing its moral compass, has not yet reached its profit-making potential. "I think the culture had morphed in dysfunctional ways in some places," the polished, soft-spoken McNerney said in a recent conversation with BusinessWeek, his first extensive interview since taking the job. "There are elements of our culture that I think we all would like to change." Specifically, McNerney wants to unite a balkanized management team that has been at war ever since Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas Corp. in 1997. The distinct cultures of the two companies never meshed, and the differences calcified into bitter rivalries. Having spent his first six months on the job in a "deep dive" learning about the company, McNerney...

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