Boeing Frontiers
July 2003
Volume 02, Issue 03
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Main Feature


DOING WHAT CAN’T BE DONEBoeing Aerospace Support's Bill Grant always liked the logic of his former boss, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

It's been more than a decade since the two worked together on the National Security Council. Yet Powell's influence still resonates with Grant, who leads Boeing's Special Operations Forces Aerospace Support Center in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. Grant's office displays a saying Powell often used: "Leaders accomplish what the science of management says can't be done."

Had Grant not believed this, he'd most likely be without the coveted Sterling Award—Florida's highest honor for performance excellence—he accepted on behalf of his team last spring. Six years earlier, no one would have predicted Boeing would still be operating in Fort Walton Beach, let alone be recognized as a premier organization, teammates there say.

Now, a once-unhappy customer base consistently gives the Boeing Special Operations team high performance scores. The Boeing Special Operations team that "wasn't having any fun" now rates its employee satisfaction index at 71—two points higher than world-class companies. And the site is growing in terms of business and people.

The outlook wasn't so good in 1997 when Grant joined the Fort Walton Beach team as AC-130U program manager.

"We had a confrontational relationship with our customer," said Bobby Boggs, program manager for the Integrated Weapon Systems Support Program. "Leaders held information and responsibilities tightly, and employee morale was low.

"Bill opened communications internally, putting problems on the table and solving them. He stressed the importance of working with the customer and gave people more latitude to do their jobs," Boggs said.

In 1998 the team accomplished what seemed improbable when Grant came on board. The Air Force awarded Boeing a $1.2 billion contract for the Integrated Weapon Systems Support Program. Under the 10-year program, Boeing performs engineering and logistics support and systems modifications for Special Operations C-130 variants.

That same year, Boeing designated Fort Walton Beach its focal point for U.S. Air Force Special Operations aircraft, creating the Special Operations Forces Aerospace Support Center and naming Grant its manager.

Grant attributes improved business to employee and customer satisfaction. The workforce of more than 400 grows at a rate of about five people each week, and the $400 to $600 million expected in orders this year is about 10 times what the site was achieving when Grant joined the team.

"Relationships are important—teammate- to-teammate, leader-to-team and team-to-customer," he said. "Some people call it networking, but that term is kind of cold. Working with people and treating them right, that's the essential element of leadership."

In dealing with people, Grant said there's one underlying premise: the smartest person to do the job is the person who's doing the job.

—Elaine Marcellino


Front Page
Contact Us | Site Map| Site Terms | Privacy | Copyright
© 2003 The Boeing Company. All rights reserved.