What is the Problem?

In the news today, Gordon Caplan, former Co-Chairman of the prestigious U.S. law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, pleaded guilty in federal court to cheating to get his daughter accepted for admission to a “prestigious” college. He paid $75,000 to have his daughter’s test score corrected and raised.

Then, it was reported that Boeing will cut production of its 737 Max aircraft by one fifth and constitute a special committee of the board to examine its development of new planes. This as a result of past design decisions which may have contributed to recent crashes of 737 MAX aircraft.

In both cases, remediation was necessary to offset harm that could have been prevented had better judgment been used by the decision-makers.

Systems did not cause these two shortfalls in judgment; lack of individual reflection did. The one who broke the law was a lawyer. Senior Boeing officers were well-trained and highly paid not to subject their company to long-term risk.

The failures in both cases ultimately were personal.

As Walt Kelley’s cartoon character Pogo said so many years ago now: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”