Profit before lives?

How important are your shareholders?  How desperate are you to make a profit?

Over the weekend I watched “Downfall: The Case Against Boeing” on Netflix.  

It is a shocking documentary which shows how short-term, shareholder-only thinking ended up costing the lives of hundreds of people.

For many years, Boeing had had a fantastic safety culture and their primary drivers were always the integrity and quality of their aircraft.  This had led to decades of iconic products and huge commercial success.

A merger with McDonnell Douglas however, changed the culture of the company to one where shareholder returns trumped pretty much everything else.  

Speed of production became their priority, at almost any cost.  

Corners began to be cut, quality suffered and whistleblowers were silenced.

In a commercially-fuelled rush to beat Airbus, this led to the hasty launch of the 737 MAX range of aircraft.  An aeroplane with a serious, known but downplayed design fault.

Tragically, within a few months, two of these aircraft had crashed (Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302) with the loss of many, many lives.  I found myself getting so angry at the corporate culture that put money before safety and caused this terrible tragedy.

I’ve never worked anywhere where poor decisions could be quite so catastrophic.  But many times I have seen the toxic effect of short-term thinking on organisational performance and the health of the team.

It always occurs in organisations where the instant win is all that they aspire to.  There is no long term vision.  No united sense of purpose.  No desire to build something long-lasting and of meaningful value.

No one can do their best work under such conditions and ultimately, somehow it always ends in tears. 

Personally, in building for the future, I want to be better than that and hope that you do as well.

It’s what the world deserves from us.

#positiveleadership #strategicthinking #businessdevelopment #strategy

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