As we approach Wendesday's Boeing full year 2011 and quarterly earnings report, which is sure to be filled with questions of the pace of 787 and 747-8 deliveries and production ramp up, the burden of travelled work and change incorporation has been the central theme of aircraft development over the past decade.
I've recently started reading a new book called Smart Trust, by Stephen Covey and Greg Link, recommended to me by a colleague. It explores the role of trust in creating a prosperous, more energetic and happier organization, whether in microfinance in developing nations, the actions of governments and its citizenry or the relationships between customers and suppliers.
I'm still early on in the book, but one quote jumped out at me. While it wasn't referring specifically to aerospace and aircraft development, this paragraph captured the connection directly:
When trust goes down in a relationship, on a team, in an organization, or in a country, speed goes down and cost goes up. Why? Because of the many steps that have to be taken to compensate for the lack of trust. This is a tax-a low-trust tax. Everything takes more time, and miscommunication, redundancy, and rework create costly delays.
To look at the recent history of Airbus A380's wiring woes, the 787's supply chain, the lessons of both are seen in the A350 and CSeries programs, both working to position themselves to avoid similar pains. But was the prevalence of traveled work the root cause of the delays to these aircraft programs or just a symptom of something much deeper both between customer and supplier and within an organization?