Boeing Frontiers
August 2003
Volume 02, Issue 04
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Letters to the Editor

Writers vs. professionals

July FrontiersI very much enjoyed the articles in your July 2003 edition, especially the leadership articles.

However, I do have a comment to make on Phil Condit's My View, "Leadership at all Levels." I totally agreed with and was exited about the article until I got to one word in the next-to-the-last paragraph. The statement that caused me concern, as a leader in our software professional arena, was, "To succeed in today's highly competitive markets, Boeing has to have great engineers, software writers."

Although I am very pleased to see software on this list, the label writers to me implies "code and go." In the software engineering world, we've been working to replace this behavior for at least 10 years with integration of software engineering practices such as Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institutes Capability Maturity Model, lifecycle and delivery systems methods, tools, structures and disciplines.

There is far more to software than "writing," including such things as architecture, requirements management, design, testing, integration, delivery services and information technology project management. A better word might have been "professionals." I'm sure that this was the true intent of the My View message.

—Katherine Swain, Seattle

No ifs, ands or butts

This past week we received a Wichita Newsline edition that stated Boeing's Wichita campus "spends in excess of $100,000 annually to clean up improperly disposed cigarette ends." To say the least, I was aghast at this figure.

These smokers are adults and are granted a conditional benefit to smoke on campus grounds. If our children misbehave to this extent, we remove the privilege. It's called punishment. Boeing management should be willing to exercise some form of punishment on employees who have cost the company more than $100,000 annually.

This action, if left unchecked, seems to me to be an added benefit given to smokers and discriminates against the non-smoker. Not only do smokers get unscheduled breaks several times a day, but also they have the company cleaning up after them. An easy solution to this problem would be to institute a smoke-free campus in Wichita, especially since it is costing the company added revenue for cleanup, related health care benefits and disposal receptacles.

—Kerry Baker, Wichita, Kan.

Ethics internalized

The recent ethics concerns at Boeing have resulted in a widely distributed theme of high standards of workplace conduct that focus on our behavior and the motivation for that behavior. However, true ethical behavior goes deeper than the actions conducted in an office or factory. Ethics should not be a switch that can be turned on or off at the door leading to our jobs. Good or bad, our ethics are derived from our character.

Character isn't something that can usually be trained or instructed. It's who we are at our core. Character is however something that can be scrutinized by asking ourselves,

  • Are the results of my actions contingent on something other than hard work, honorable talent or skill?

  • Are the people who have to live with the consequences of my actions going to be worse off than before I did anything?

  • Would I have difficulty accepting responsibility for my actions?

If "yes" is ever an answer to this intrapersonal critique, then there is a good chance that trouble is soon to follow. We don't have to be saints in order to be ethical; we just have to remember to ask ourselves tough questions.

—Louis Rivoli, St. Louis

USS LincolnDock no moor

As a former U.S. Navy pilot and retired Boeing employee, I found the Snapshot in the June Frontiers of the USS Lincoln awesome. But I must call attention to your terminology in the caption. It described the carrier "as it docked." The proper term is, "as it moored." Technically the only time a ship is "docked" is when it is in a dry dock, completely out of the water for extensive repairs. (By the way, a ship is never "tied up" either—that only happens to packages.)

If we're quick to claim our pride in providing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to the Navy, then we should be equally respectful of unique and particular terminology.

—John Alter, Bascom, Fla.


Employees should hit the books

I am finding a common occurrence among Boeing managers that many are lacking college degrees yet are hired or promoted despite the apparent need for continued higher education.

Many managers might argue their years of experience are equivalent to obtaining a college degree. However, I am witnessing examples where a higher education could possibly prevent lapses of unethical judgment making decisions on crucial moral issues and current laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I want to emphasize the need for managers to constantly upgrade their education levels so The Boeing Company can remain competitive and bring forth a renewed vigor and optimism for further growth while also creating an atmosphere of encouragement for others to increase their intellectual capacity, for learning as well as personal growth.

Remember the old adage: If you don't use it you lose it. And this means your ability to think and use your mind, cognizant of the changing world around us.

—Carl Dunn, Philadelphia

Tribute to Bill Allen

It was interesting to read the various stories that employees wrote in your article on Leadership in the July 2003 edition Boeing Frontiers, page 34. It brought to memory one of the best in this category, a former Boeing employee, Bill Allen. Indeed, Allen recently was ranked No. 2 in a list of the greatest CEOs of all time by Fortune magazine.

I had the privilege of meeting Allen a couple of times during my 32-year career at Boeing. He had that special ability to make people feel comfortable in his presence. More importantly, I recall an incident related to me by a Boeing supplier that spoke volumes about the man.

It seems the supplier was told that a part made in house was going to be off-loaded from a Boeing shop. The small supplier hired an engineer, purchased a special piece of equipment, and told his wife, who handled the "front office," and other employees that they were going to win this Boeing contract!

After an investment of $25,000, he was told Boeing was not all that serious and the shop was "just trying to see if their costs were reasonable." More than a little disappointed, the small supplier wrote Allen, critical of such practice. Allen ordered an investigation of this practice and advised the supplier it would be reimbursed in total for its expenditure.

Bill Allen's integrity and listening skills were not abandoned during difficult times.

—Harold Isaacson, Federal Way, Wash.

Make better decisions

I am so fed up with reading almost daily in the paper about employees at Boeing possessing proprietary documents belonging to competing aerospace companies. What is wrong with you people? We are grown adults with the basic sense of right and wrong, and yet these incidents happened.

Winning contracts is great for the company, but at what cost? The actions of a few have called into question the integrity and reputation of the entire company. It saddens me to think we still have to be taught the difference between right and wrong, ethical and unethical behavior. The actions of one person can affect us all. It's time we start making better decisions.

—Kelly Etheridge, Seal Beach, Calif.

Earlier beginnings at Tulsa

Being one of thousands of employees from 1951 to 1965 at the Tulsa facility, I enjoyed reading your new feature article "In-Site" on the Tulsa facility. However, I was disappointed the article didn't cover the "birth" of the Tulsa facility before the 1960s and before North American came into the picture.

The story, in my opinion, really starts in early 1951 when Douglas Aircraft Co. reopened the Tulsa facility, building aircraft in the largest building in the United States (at the time) with no windows, and that was almost one mile long. In addition to 194 B-47s, a number of RB-66Bs (electronic countermeasures aircraft) and WB-66Bs (weather aircraft), were built in Tulsa. There also were a number of missiles and spacecraft manufactured, including the original Delta program and the time-proven shroud that protected the payloads.

These are just some of the aircraft and space programs that really started and made the Tulsa facility what it is today.

—N. L. Hug, Irvine, Calif.

Editor’s note

Michael J. Lombardi and Jay Spenser also contributed background and research to the July cover story on Boeing and Japan.

Letters guidelines

Boeing Frontiers provides the letters page for readers to state their opinions. The page is intended to encourage an exchange of ideas and information that stimulates dialogue on issues or events in the company or the aerospace industry. The opinions may not necessarily reflect those of The Boeing Company. Letters must include name, organization and a telephone number for verification purposes. Frontiers may edit letters for grammar, syntax and size.


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