Boeing, the 737 Max, and Cross-Functional Dysfunction

Cross functional dysfunction is the root cause of the issues Boeing is facing with the 737 Max.

A brief history.

In 1997, Boeing with its engineering culture purchased McDonald Douglas. The latter had a bean-counter culture. Over time, market and investor pressure won out and the newly formed company became more focused on financials than it did on engineering. Soon, all ideas were scrutinized for financial viability. The 737 Max was designed to hold more people without a major change to the base design – rather than start from scratch. An attempt was made to resolve some design issues with software, but these failed. As problems started to surface, employees faced great pressure to keep costs down. A few who tried to express concerns were squelched. Passenger safety was sacrificed.

Since last year, Boeing has lost over $60 billion in market value. That’s a lot of beans.

Volumes have been written about this, and undoubtedly many more volumes are yet to come. My perspective? Boeing’s culture needs to change to focus more on listening. Sounds easy. No. This leadership team now needs to begin to  build a culture where people trust one another to speak up and offer their ideas. A culture where they can challenge each other, regardless of hierarchy, to make better – and safer – decisions. This takes work. It means people put aside their egos. It means having a willingness to accept and act on difficult feedback. It means listening. Not listening to judge, or listening to speak, but listening to hear..

What’s the lesson for all of us? Stop. Be quiet. Listen. Do what’s best for the customer.

Especially if their lives are in your hands.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please go out to LinkedIn to add your comments.


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