March 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 10 
Shared Services Group

How can we help you?

Stephens talks about satisfying customers of Internal Services


Rick StevensThe energetic Rick Stephens is not one to stand still, whether it's learning about how people do their jobs or bicycling on the weekend. Boeing Frontiers caught up with him to ask about his new assignment as senior vice president of Internal Services, the organization that includes the Shared Services Group, Human Resources, Community and Education Relations, and company Administration.

Stephens shared the lessons he's learned in his 25-year career at Boeing sites across the world. Most importantly, he's learned the importance of helping customers achieve their goals. That's a major theme he's imparting to his Internal Services teams. After all, with customers such as Boeing business units and employees, their success is Internal Services' success.

Q: How would you characterize your leadership style?

A: I think most would consider me to be an engaged and energetic leader and one who is focused on moving with speed. I'm also a team player and focused on what's best for the organization.

I ask a lot of questions aimed at understanding and learning. I've been told that my engaging style is sometimes disarming, and sometimes people think I might be trying to look for faults or problems. I'm just trying to understand. That said, I expect people to "tell it like it is" with no sugarcoating.

I'm also probably viewed as being impatient. We never have perfect information, and I expect people to make decisions based on the best information they have and move out. By and large, most times we get it right. When we don't, we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.

There are four critical areas where I focus my energy. The first is to make sure that everyone understands the Internal Services vision—where are we going and what are the key strategy actions to achieve the vision. Second, I try to find the very best people possible, because it is people who make our business successful. If I can find the best leaders in Internal Services, they'll find the best leaders in their organizations, and they too will ensure success. Third is to ensure we have a dashboard, or set of tools, where together we can understand what's going on and manage the business. Fourth, my job is to make sure that we have the right resources to get the job done, and if we don't, make the tough decisions on priorities.

Q: What does it mean to have a "culture of service"?

A: Service, to me, is an important part of what we do in Internal Services—whether it is with the Shared Services Group, Human Resources, Community and Education Relations or Administration. It's all about seeing the world through the eyes of our customers and then taking action accordingly.

5 key questions

Rick Stephens, senior vice president of Internal Services, identified five key questions that Internal Services people must consider to create a "culture of service" and to meet customer expectations:

1. Who are our customers?

2. What are their expectations?

3. How do they measure the expectations?

4. How are we doing against those expectations?

5. What are we doing to improve?

There are five key questions that we all have to consider about our objectives.

The first is: Who are our customers? I think it's important that we sit down with our teams to ask ourselves who we think are our customers, to ensure we know the answer to this and the next two questions.

The second question is: What are the customer expectations? If we understand what those expectations are, then we can ask the third question, which is: How do the customers measure those expectations? Notice that none of the first three questions have "us" in them. It's all about the customer and his or her world.

Knowing the answers to the first three questions leads us to the fourth: How are we doing against those customer expectations? When we compare how we're doing against customer expectations, we find out where the gaps are—and that's the important part. If we're meeting our customer expectations, we're where we want to be.

If we're not, we have to fix the gaps. That takes us to the fifth question: What are we doing to improve?

If we all think about our business at The Boeing Company every day in terms of those five questions, we go a long way toward ensuring we in Internal Services are delivering Boeing a competitive edge.

QuoteQ: What are your goals for 2005?

A: My job as leader of Internal Services is to make sure Internal Services executes its business plan to support The Boeing Company. Since we're all about delivering competitive advantage, we have some tough challenges and aggressive goals.

Additionally, I am the advocate of employees. By advocate I mean that it's my responsibility to create the right environment, make sure we are providing the right capabilities and incentives, and be the sounding board for any issues employees may raise. I also want to make sure we have the right systems and training and development in place so we can develop our employees to do great things.

Q: What are your expectations for Internal Services employees?

A: My expectations for all the employees in Internal Services is that they will first understand their customers, focus on their customer needs and meet those customer expectations and needs. To do that, you've got to have a business plan based upon the needs of the customers.

As I'm working out the goals and plan for 2005, I'm looking at an integrated plan for the Internal Services organization—making sure we all have a common vision, mission and understanding about what those requirements are, and then all go drive to them.

It is about execution. It's about delivvery and supporting The Boeing Company—and always asking ourselves: Are we developing a competitive advantage for The Boeing Company? If we are, and we can demonstrate it, we're delivering value and meeting expectations. If we're not, we ought to ask ourselves what we should do differently. I expect Internal Services leaders to create the environment to allow us to do the right things for Boeing.

Q: What do you do outside the office?

A: I'm a bicyclist so I make sure that I get outdoors and cycle quite a bit. For me it's a stress reliever, and on a Saturday or Sunday morning, I will cycle 40 to 60 miles. I really enjoy that. There's a small group I go with, so it's as much getting exercise as it is a social activity, because I tend to be a people person.

The other thing I do is spend considerable time in the community with other leaders helping people understand issues and develop strategies for creating a capable future workforce. For me, it's a passion.


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