Boeing: “When Sorrows Come, They Come Not as Single Spies, But in Battalions.”

There are two stories in today’s paper here about the ongoing travails of a once great company – Boeing.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Emily Glazer and Sharon Terlep reported:

Several high-profile candidates have turned down the chance to run Boeing, complicating the jet maker’s search for a new leader amid discussions about whether the next CEO needs to be based near its Seattle-area factories.

Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun said in March he would step down by the end of the year.  GE CEO Larry Culp, widely considered a natural for the job, declined Boeing’s request to consider taking over, said people familiar with the discussions. 

Calhoun’s successor will have to deal with those issues, while rooting out ingrained quality problems that have led to massive production delays and drawn the ire of airline customers, federal regulators and investors. 

Culp, GE’s first-ever outsider CEO who rehabilitated the industrial giant, was a favorite of investors and suppliers.  He is known as a guru in the world of lean manufacturing, a management philosophy focused on cutting waste while continuously improving quality. 

Culp has said publicly that he intends to stay at GE Aerospace, which has shed its other businesses to focus on making jet engines used in Boeing and Airbus planes.

One of the company’s own directors, aerospace veteran David Gitlin, also declined an approach.  Gitlin, the current CEO of manufacturer Carrier Global, said on an earnings call in April that he told Boeing’s board to remove him from the list of potential contenders.

Secondly, also in today’s Wall Street Journal is a story that the U.S. Department of Justice is considering whether or not to pursue a charge that Boeing violated a pre-existing corporate probation for fraud related to the 2018 and 2019 crashes of Boeing aircraft, given a recent midair failure of a door.

If the measure of success in capitalism is, as many argue, financial returns to owners, then Boeing is a failure.

From the perspective of stakeholder capitalism, the company’s single-minded search for cost reductions devalued the importance it put on customers by compromising their safety through toleration of a shoddy production process, a failure to take due care and so set the company on a course to short-change its owners in the long run.

Who, in their right mind, would want to become the CEO of a company like that?