Boeing Frontiers
July 2003
Volume 02, Issue 03
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Curt HaneyOn a tabletop, a few doors down from Curt Haney's office in Seattle, lies a half-finished jigsaw puzzle of Monticello, the home and architectural masterpiece of Thomas Jefferson, the United States' third president. The border is complete, but the inside pieces—showing flecks of blue Virginia sky, green shade trees and red brick—have yet to be put together.

Haney, a Boeing Phantom Works manager who works across business units, disciplines and time zones to form and lead teams that are very successful at building prototype hardware, said the puzzle is a great metaphor for leadership.

"A leader helps develop and articulate a project's vision to everyone on the team," Haney said. "That includes direction, budget, levels of risk and expectations, so that everyone knows what is required for success. You could say that a leader works hard to put the border on the puzzle.

"A leader also puts an environment in place that maintains everyone's dignity, encourages diversity of opinion, celebrates inventiveness, recognizes actions of integrity, pushes and focuses," Haney said. "When that happens, the talent and creativity of the people on the team just takes over—they can put the pieces of the puzzle together quicker and better than one could ever have imagined."

During the past several years he has organized and led a variety of rapid-prototyping teams—consisting of people from across Boeing's different business units, functional organizations and locations—that have tackled some complicated structural challenges. Among the more complex: demonstrating the viability of an all-composite fuselage section for the Sonic Cruiser; and redesigning and building an aerodynamic shell for the Airborne Laser's Active Ranging System.

In June, Phantom Works honored the team that designed and built the Active Ranging System aerodynamic shell, presenting it with its Silver Team award for outstanding achievement.

Currently, Haney is the Puget Sound site leader for Phantom Works' Prototyping Center.

"Curt really knows how to form a multidisciplined team and execute a program in a very timely manner," said Jim Ogonowski, one of Haney's directors.

Haney once worked as a tool-and-die apprentice. He co-authored the Boeing lead-system-integrator strategy for the International Space Station and has been an integrated product team leader involving every Boeing business unit.

His greatest lessons in leadership, however, may have come from his volunteer work, where he and his wife have spent many years teaching parents how to help children develop healthy habits and personalities.

Haney's personal "leadership tenets," which he derived in part from his volunteer work, include "accepting personal criticism without rebuttal," "viewing a trouble spot from a minimum of two perspectives" and "acknowledging the 'good' before mentioning the 'bad.'"

Words worth remembering—especially for anyone about to tackle a difficult jigsaw puzzle.

—Thomas J. Koehler


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