May 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 1 
Leadership Message

We are not resting on our laurels

James Bell
President and CEO

James BellWhenever I meet with employees these days, I detect a different attitude than I did only a few years ago. I think Boeing people are, figuratively speaking, "hungrier" today. We are being challenged in our major markets, and we are responding with an attitude that says, "If we're going to be the best, we've got to think up new ways to do things better every day." We're meeting our challenges with a whole new spirit.

And I think that's important for the world's leading aerospace company.

It's certainly a far cry from those days of what I think of as the entitlement mentality—when we tended to pat ourselves on the back, thought "We're big, we're Boeing, we're the best," and believed that customers therefore should flock to us just because of the distinguished record we'd built.

Resting on our laurels is not something we do any more.

By having focused on our core competencies (detailed customer knowledge and focus, large-scale systems integration, and operating a Lean enterprise) and executing our strategy outlined nearly eight years ago in the Vision 2016 mission statement, Boeing is starting to hit the sweet spots of its markets.

QuoteIntegrated Defense Systems, for example, has helped our defense customers shape the market for network-centric operations and has built a significant business base there.

Commercial Airplanes—through building a Lean enterprise, listening intently to commercial-airline customers, and understanding our customers' and our own need to operate profitable businesses—is proving that our bet on comfortable, efficient airplanes and point-to-point service was the right one.

I could name hundreds of examples of how Boeing people—focused on being No. 1—are giving their best efforts to the company and helping to secure its future. We're seeing innovation across the board:

  • Our engineers are showing the enterprising spirit that initially made Boeing and its predecessor companies great.
  • Our factory people are pioneering Lean initiatives that are spreading into the office environment.
  • Our sales, marketing and business development people are helping us understand what products and services our customers need now and what solutions they will need in the future.
  • Our functional and support organizations are working on providing us common systems that will make us more efficient and better able to compete in tough, ever-changing markets.
  • We have put in place clear and challenging new targets for revenue growth, earnings, asset performance and cash creation in 2005 and 2006. Our people know what those targets are, and our team is working to achieve them.

So we can take a deep breath and declare that our future is secure, right? Wrong.

There's this thing about the future: You have to wait for it to arrive before you know whether your forecasts were right. Nobody could have predicted the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and the SARS scare. But even with market-driving surprises, our strategy is broad enough that—using it as a guide—we can be flexible, adjust our tactics, achieve market success, and sustain high-quality jobs that engage us in every way.

Our recent momentum is a good indicator that if we continue to read our customers well, help shape our markets, and improve our performance faster than our competitors improve theirs, our future is bright.

We truly have transformed our company from what once was predominantly a commercial airplanes business into a broad-based aerospace company that competes in the most complex segments of its markets. Each business contributes strength to the whole. But we need to remember that we'll never be finished with the transformation process.

So I'm asking you to stay "hungry," keep focusing on executing our business plans, operate within the Boeing value system and keep coming up with innovative ways to do things better. We're a company that opens new frontiers. That pioneering, can-do, expand-the-boundaries spirit is in our very DNA. It drives us to do what others consider impossible.

Let's keep raising the bar and leading the competition.

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