Flight plan from Seattle
Philip Condit, Chairman of Boeing, talks about the problems of turning Boeing into a global company
In the last thirty years, Philip Condit says, not much has changed. The problem, he says, is not just that employees at Boeing think of other countries as being exotic. They take the same attitude to anywhere in the US outside Seattle, where the company has its headquarters and its most important factories. Boeing staff talk about something as being 'in-plant' or 'out-plant'. In-plant means Seattle. Out-plant means one of the group's other locations, such as Wichita, Kansas.
Condit, who became Boeing's chairman in February, wants to change all that. Over the next 20 years, he wants Boeing to become a global rather than a US company. Boeing employees could be forgiven for thinking that being a Seattle company has served them well enough. Boeing is the world's most successful aircraft maker.
Condit believes, however, that Boeing cannot stand still. There are too many examples in aviation and other sectors of what has happened to companies that have tried to do that.
Last year, in a speech to managers, he described his vision of what the group would look like in 2016, its centenary year. He told them that Boeing would be an aerospace company. It would not repeat earlier mistakes such as attempting to enter the train or boat-building business.
Second, he said, Boeing would be a 'global enterprise'. This would mean increasing the number of countries of operation. He is impressed, he says, by the way in which oil companies have benefited from losing national images. 'BP is probably the most global company in the world. It is interesting to see that in the US its nationality has begun to disappear. Almost everybody in the US says BP and not British Petroleum. It is a local kind of company.' Royal Dutch / Shell is another group which manages to present itself as a local company in the countries in which it operates.
Would he be happy if 20 years from now people did not think of Boeing as being a US company? 'Yes,' Condit says, 'I believe we are moving towards an ear of global markets and global companies.'
Discuss the following questions:
- What do you know about Boeing?
- Where is its head office?
- What do you think in-plant and out-plant mean?