737 Max is a symbol of corporate greed

Profits above morals

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I understand there may be a lot of obsessive anxiety with the topics that I talk about so I am going to start off today’s newsletter with some eye bleach.

Post image

It’s a dog on a mushroom. Unbelievable.

Now, on to the more heavy hitting stuff.

737 Max updates

Today, I’m going to share the recent news regarding allegations that Boeing’s managerial staff emphasized profits over safety when it came to the 737 Max design as well as what you can do when you are confronted with the whole ethics vs profits situation. First of all, having previously worked in the aerospace business, I can accurately say that what the engineers are claiming here, I’ve seen firsthand and brought up with my managers. While I was fortunate enough to have had very reasonable managers that understood and fought for similar moral concerns, I can’t say the same for other managers. And that’s unfortunate because in the aerospace business, those moral concerns literally mean the difference between life and death. Too bad the world had to experience that twice.

A little background on the issue

If you don’t know the issue with the 737 Max, the LA Times does a great job of explaining it here. Fundamentally, the 737 Max required larger engines and due to the wing’s height off the ground, Boeing ran into ground clearance issues. In an effort to save time and money, Boeing chose to solve this problem by shifting the engines forward instead of undergoing a fresh new design. Shifting the engines forward meant that the plane’s nose is now more likely to pitch upward resulting in stall (stall is when there is no airflow going through the engine and as a result, there is no thrust propelling the plane forward). Boeing decided to solve this issue by installing the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) a set of sensors that would work together to detect and augment this situation. The rest of what happened doesn’t need to be explained.

What you can do if you’re ever in this situation

Today, it seems like it’s getting harder to stand up for doing the right thing. Everyone’s desperately doing whatever they can to fit their business to the eternal growth economy model (and I’ll talk about the whole problem with large corporations in another newsletter) instead of listening to the customer. Now, I understand that I don’t know everyone’s life situation. You could be swimming in debt and need your job in order to make your monthly payments. As a result, you would probably fear any corporate retaliation from you standing up for your moral beliefs. So take what I’m saying next with a grain of salt.

I’m not saying throw your managers under the bus but I would generally argue that it is not out of line to call out your managers when you believe they are being morally inconsiderate. First of all, in an ideal setting, you shouldn’t even have to debate choosing ethics over profits. You shouldn’t have to fear any retaliation for standing up for issues like customer safety because at the end of the day, those lives are on you and it is in the industry and professional code to put the customer first.

Finally, if you do fear retaliation, your company should have an independent Ombudsman group that investigates these sorts of mismanagement and administration issues while keeping your identity anonymous. This is something that you could at the very least do before looking at the picture of a little dog on a mushroom for a second and third time.