The Boeing Company - Phantom Works

Gary Eyring
1700 7th Aveue
Suite 116, PMB 386
Seattle, Washington 98101

Dear Gary

It was a pleasure re-connecting with you this afternoon. 

When we first met in 1994 I believed that technical skills and ability were the cornerstone of professional leadership.  Over the next two years working with you and Karen in the concept of The Open Organization, I learned that organizational success depends not only on technical skills but also the ability to form relationships and inspire trust and confidence through openness and sharing and collaboration. 

As I mentioned to you this afternoon, I manage a group of over 400 employees located in 29 different places throughout the country. These are people from heritage Boeing, MacDonnell Douglas, Rockwell and Hughes organizations who now work within the advance research organization of Boeing known as The Phantom Works. 

The biggest challenge I have is creating an environment where these talented people from totally different business cultures and experiences can work together to achieve the organization's objectives.   Every year Boeing conducts an employee survey to assess employee satisfaction.  A year ago, the results for Phantom Works Business Management were ok but still disappointing with only 53% of employees expressing favorable satisfaction in the context of 12 focused parameters.  As I surveyed these results I recalled the Open Organization and realized I hadn't a clue what these folks were really telling me.  Rather than guess at their intent I asked 3 groups of five to six non-management employees from each of Seattle, St. Louis and Southern California to work with their peers and identify the root causes of their dissatisfaction.  I then brought them together in a single location to consolidate their findings and to present them to my immediate staff.  Surprisingly regardless of where they were from the results were the same.  Of the six root causes, three had to do with communication. 

As a result of these findings I brought my entire management team of 70 supervisors and managers together and asked them to build an action plan to address these root causes.  They recommended establishment of 5 task teams to development and implement changes addressing the employee issues.   As the year progressed we picked some low hanging fruit regarding openness and communication, while keeping people regularly informed of the progress on more difficult issues via employee roundtable meeting, regular e-mail messages and a monthly newsletter.

The results of the 2001 survey have just been published.  Overall employee satisfaction increased from 53% positive to 65%, a 23% improvement in one year.   Scores on improvement and change improved by 70% to 150% to levels that in some cases reflect or exceed top quartile performance when benchmarked against companies of comparable size to Boeing.  The improvement in performance is so significant in those areas we focused on that it could only be attributable to the approach we took to improve performance.  That approach was openness and inclusion.  Two key factors of The Open Organization. 

Thanks Gary, it does work.

Best Regards

Ken Brown
VP Finance - Phantom Works
The Boeing Company