Richard Dukas on the Boeing Tragedy

From a humanitarian and communications point of view, it pained me to watch Boeing’s CEO’s Congressional testimony this morning.

Although Dennis Muilenburg apologized to the crash victims’ families and vowed that Boeing is committed to rebuilding the public’s trust, it comes far too late.

Facing the Senate and under questioning by Senator Maria Cantwell (WA), Muilenburg looked scared and evasive, and certainly didn’t exude confidence.

From the beginning, this was a “PR 101” example of how NOT to handle a major crisis.

The human toll is tragic. Period.

The communications mistakes are many:

Boeing should have held daily briefings and vowed right away to find the root cause of the plane’s problem. They clearly did not—demonstrating that they valued profit over transparency.

1) Muilenburg should have resigned months ago, but now will likely stay on, at least for the time being.

2) Boeing has become one of the nation’s most mistrusted names.

3) The company conveys a lack of accountability and a sense of false empathy.

4) Boeing has managed to anger the public, airlines, and pilots.

It seems that the company has learned its lessons—at least from a technical and engineering point of view. Unfortunately, the human damage has already been done.


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