Historical Perspective

Frontiers March 2013 Issue

BOEING FRONTIERS / MARCH 2013 09 One of my strengths is that I’m an “airplane guy”—I spent my first 10 years at Boeing working in operations, on both the military and commercial sides, everything from 777 landing gear to anti-submarine warfare. I went to graduate school at night, through the Learning Together program, and then did a career change in the late ’90s to organizational effectiveness consulting. So I bring my operational knowledge to the groups I support. Work cultures can be complex, so I try to keep my advice simple and practical. The biggest thing for me is helping leaders see things from a different point of view, so it changes how they approach a problem. I like using analogies—coming up with a story that serves as a framing device, a depersonalized way of looking at a situation. They help take the emotion out of a challenge so you can focus on practical solutions. When you have a good metaphor, the conversation takes off. On the tanker program we used a housing development metaphor to help understand the different business unit cultures on the team. The analogy was that Boeing Defense, Space & Security programs often build custom houses for a single customer, while Commercial Airplanes programs build housing developments for many customers. Each culture is designed to be successful in its specific environ-ment, but misunderstandings or even breakdowns can occur if one culture is used in the other environment. The metaphor made sense to people—they began to see their teammates’ behaviors and perspectives were perfectly natural for their backgrounds. Sometimes we hold workshops to help members of a team better understand not only their peers but also themselves—their individual personality and temperament and how they handle problems. That can help them be more open to listening to others’ points of view. Those who tend to be drivers are able to slow down and listen to others, and those who are more analytical can make decisions faster and move on. If others on the team compensate for your blind spots, it improves the decisions the team makes. That’s what One Boeing is all about: people who bring their history and knowledge and perspectives together to develop the best solutions. If you accept people’s differences and understand people’s viewpoints, you can take advantage of the strengths that we all bring. n geoffrey.potter@boeing.com Dave Noll serves as a senior Organization Effectiveness consultant and recently advised the “One Boeing” team developing the KC-46A tanker for the U.S. Air Force. In this Frontiers series for employees to talk about their jobs, Noll, shown at the Tanker Validation Center in Everett, Wash., explains how he helps teams work together more effectively. WHY WE’RE HERE Words that work This employee uses creative ways to help teams work together as ‘One Boeing’ By Geoff Potter and photo by Ed Turner


Frontiers March 2013 Issue
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