A recent article in Axios described a CEO who was “pressed to resign” who “thought about resigning” but who ultimately “didn’t see ‘running away from a challenge’ as the “right solution”.
On the face of it, this sounds like a leader buckling down and deciding to try and fix a grave company problem rather than punting. A worthy idea. Until you realize the quote is from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg. Yes, the guy who was in charge when the push for market share and profits led to Boeing senior executives ignoring the warning cries from multiple insiders that the new 737MAX was not ready to launch.
Earlier this year I wrote two missives about the despicable decisions Muilenburg and his leadership team made that led to two 737MAX crashes resulting in 346 deaths. Death By Shortcut. Don’t Make Things Worse.
As the saga continued, I decided that I’d said enough. But now, a little more than a year after the first 737MAX disaster—the Lion Air crash of October 28, 2018–I see this quote from a few days ago, and have to share my disgust. In spite of all his failures of leadership that led to the crashes, deaths, and seemingly never-ending problems trying to get the 737MAX airworthy, Muilenburg’s ego told him that he really still is the best person to fix things.
I wonder if he’s listening to his engineers and test pilots now.
He’s decided to donate any equity grants that vest in 2020 to funds for the families of the victims. Clearly a wonderful thing for him to do. But wait. When did he decide to do this? Just last week after meeting with these families. That’s right, it took him a year to decide to offer financial help to the survivors. I wonder how long it would have taken Bill Gates in the same situation. It also appears that Muilenburg will be donating an undisclosed portion of his bonuses. In 2018, he received $23.4 million in total compensation…
Boeing Chair Dave Calhoun made the recent decision that there would be no more bonuses or equity grants “until the 737MAX in its entirety is back in the air and flying safely.” But Muilenburg still has his job and is ultimately responsible for ensuring that when you take off in one of his planes you land in one piece.