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

Dumbing down the English language

Those of us who learned the language decades ago were never taught to think outside the box. We learned to spell appendixes and indexes with c's not x's. Basically, my peers and myself never heard of synergy or preventative. On my plate referred to something we were having for dinner, not work tasks. Footprint was an outline or indentation left in the dirt or on the clean kitchen floor. It had nothing to do with square footage. I don't think we ever populated anything. Leverage, as I remember from Physics, had to do only with mechanical advantage (whatever that is).

We studied and learned facts, not factoids. It was either a fact or it wasn't. Bucket was, and still is, something in which you carry something, not to be used as a verb describing the accumulation of like objects/data, etc. ... We all knew of some things that conflicted, but of none that de-conflicted. We were connected in many ways, but none of us would have had a clue (notional or otherwise) what interconnectivity or information obesity meant.

Some would say the bottom line is that the transition to this new lexicon has been seamless. Some would say that, but I wouldn't. To me, it's anything but world class. In real time, what in the world does netiquette mean? Great question!

—Sydney Rodway, St. Louis

Caption was incorrect

May FrontiersI would like to bring to your attention some misinformation. On Page 7 of the May issue, your picture caption is incorrect.

"The fleet is scheduled to be replaced in 2004 with the MH-60S Knighthawk" references the H-46s that the Navy is scheduled to retire from the Vertical Replenishment mission. Your picture and text are oriented toward the Marines and the CH-46E.

The Marines intend to fly their H-46s until 2015—currently they are scheduled to be replaced by the MV-22.

—Bob Wilman, Jacksonville, N.C.

Focus, focus, focus

Imagine a company that understands we are a culture. Understands Boeing employees are exemplary. Boeing employees are a gift in the form of talent. Why worry about degrees when the ones capable of writing the book work for you? I believe, look beyond, and color outside the box. Alone, I'm worth nothing, being unnoticed. Those around me, filling the majority of my waking hours, hold my value. This is my Boeing direct family.

I believe we need to reach out, plot that uncharted course. Appreciate those around us more, especially customers. Most importantly, quit worrying about the stock market. Let those who like that sort of thing play with it. We should refocus, pull ourselves completely out of the stock market and focus on product, the best product, our product.

—Douglas Sandberg, Everett, Wash.

Bloated structure

Having been with Boeing for three years, I've noticed that its structure is too bloated to react quickly to changing market conditions. The Boeing structure, intended to distribute administrative endeavors efficiently with the goal of continuous improvement, is instead burdened with layers of bureaucracy that hinder the effectiveness of program managers.

For example, employees who actually do the work report to program managers who set the task agenda. Those same employees however also have "functional" managers that set the procedural guidelines required for each worker's specialty.

It might look good on paper, but in practice the functional managers do not contribute significantly to achieving program performance. They do unfortunately enforce procedural standards that are frequently removed from what is going on in the trenches. Subsequently, program performance suffers from inefficient use of employee time.

In our highly competitive markets, it is unwise to divert employee attention away from actual performance in the hopes of arriving at the fabled "Continuous Improvement" workplace.

—Louis Rivoli, St. Louis

George Bush's visit to St. LouisBush coverage not up to par

We had a visit from the President of the United States here in St. Louis.

Boeing Frontiers told this story with a picture and a paragraph in the middle of the magazine.

... thought it would have made the cover.

—Jason Raubach, St. Louis


Beholden to benefits

Thank you Boeing for offering benefits to part-time employees. This, coupled with the telecommuting program, has made it possible for me to balance my work life and my family life. Boeing is a great place to work!

—Paula Schwartz, St. Louis

More than a business

After reading [the Apr. 30, 2003] Seattle Post-Intelligencer article in News Clips, quoting [Boeing Chief Financial Officer] Mike Sears as saying "It's just a business," I was compelled to write. "It's just a business" is the problem! I believe I can say that everyone who works at Boeing has had it drilled into their head that this company exists to make a profit and money for its stockholders. That is not in dispute. But I know of very few of my coworkers who are excited by "we are going to be in the top 25 percent for return on investment." Tell them that they are going to build the best, most economical airplane in the world and they will be excited, compelled, engaged with passion.

This company does not build washing machines, or computers or integrated circuits. We build machines that fly (primarily so far). Whether you work on [a 777 airplane, the International Space Station, the F/A-18 Hornet multirole fighter or Joint Direct Attack Munitions,] that is true for most of our products. In my mind, that makes us different than most businesses. There is no passion in "It's just a business," no vision. With so many negatives in the world these days, and especially within our industry, it could be uplifting to see some passion, some vision from our leadership, not "It's just a business" or "we are not going to build it (7E7?) unless we get 15 percent return on investment."

—Joe Staebler, Renton, Wash.

Don't self-promote

I like the magazine. I find the articles to be informative and interesting. I think you have done an excellent job of setting a standard for the first year.

I have learned from reading the articles and have sent copies to friends and associates outside of Boeing who I know are interested in some of the topics.

Going forward, I hope you will continue to inform, rather than simply entertain. I also hope you do not become self-promoting.

The articles on International relations and Lean manufacturing were of particular interest to me professionally.

Keep up the good work.

—Dan King, Long Beach, Calif.

Name the plane

Thanks for providing a forum for discussing issues such as the future name for the 7E7. The choices Stratoclimber, Dreamliner, E-liner, Global Cruiser, are poor, to be honest. Each name conjures up images that have nothing to do with the commercial airplane division here at Boeing. The closest airplane name, the Global Cruiser sounds like a new model coming from Douglas, the commercial airplane manufacturer that merged with McDonnell back in the early '70s. The name, which could really work, the Strato-Cruiser, a combination of two choices, would evoke images of the next wave of commercial airplanes, the wave of the future. Please, if possible, add a couple of more names that will identify the 7E7 as a Boeing Commercial Airplane product, the plane that will ensure the viability of the Boeing Commercial Airplane division.

—Joseph Carreras, Auburn, Wash.

With reference to the article you ran about naming the new plane ...

We in the trenches here at Boeing are not pleased with name selections made by the "marketing" firm for our new 7E7. After pulling ourselves up off the floor from laughing at our prospective choices we came to a consensus opinion here.

We are downright embarrassed by the proposition of calling one of our planes Dreamliner or eLiner. Global Cruiser sounds like a behemoth of a transport plane about to be shelved for lack of interest by the airlines, and finally the name Stratoclimber should be sold to the makers of hiking boots.

—Christina Kelley, Auburn, Wash.

Call for clarity

I work with several Boeing engineers who work on 7E7 systems definition and test. There continues to be a lot of confusion regarding the 7E7 work Boeing will do versus what the suppliers will do. This confusion is causing inefficiencies and delays. It would be very helpful if 7E7 management at all levels could agree and clearly disseminate exactly the Boeing vs. suppliers' roles and responsibilities with regard to 7E7 systems.

—Bob Kircher, Seattle

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.


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