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D.F. Krause
  D.F.'s Column Archive
April 12, 2006
Better Start Doing It Right! (Because Bob Is Watching)

Boeing makes both military and commercial aircraft. The military aircraft are designed to help the armed forces invade countries and blow stuff up. The commercial aircraft are designed to give ordinary travelers miserable experiences at very high altitudes.


And never the two shall meet. Except that they did, and the little oopsie has just cost Boeing $15 million – and the need to hire Bob.


Boeing, a company with amazing technological capabilities, deals in tiny computer chips that have the ability to stabilize and steer guided missiles. Pretty cool, huh? So those would go in – let me see – the military planes, right? Well, except that they could be used as a backup navigational system too. So you could put those in the other ones. Or not. It’s so hard to keep these things on  track.


Hey! Put those computer chips over by the microwave in the employee lounge and come over here to discuss it!


Apparently the government is less ambiguous on this point. If the chips can do military stuff, the chips are military chips. They don’t belong on Flight 35 to Des Moines. So don’t put them in the commercial planes!


You . . . didn’t . . . put them in there. Did you?


Hey Biff! Are those computer chips still sitting by the microwave? Biff? Uh oh . . .


Enter Bob. Well, wait, first fine Boeing $15 million. Now enter Bob.


Bob, whose name may or may not be Bob, will be Boeing’s new “outside compliance officer.” That means he will “monitor and audit the company’s export practices.” The problem, you see, is that these commercial airliners that can theoretically steer missiles get sold to foreign companies. And the last thing we need is Belgium Airways getting its hands on Weapons of Mass Destruction.


So Boeing won’t do that anymore. “Note to Self: ‘Don’t put missile guidance technology on Belgium Airways planes.’”


But curious little aircraft manufacturers sometimes forget. And that’s where Bob will come in so handy.


“Excuse me. Are you putting missile guidance chips in that commercial airliner?”


“Uh, no Bob! Not us! You might want to go talk to Biff’s team. Never quite so sure about that Biff character . . . “




Shape up, Boeing employees. Bob is looking over your shoulder. If that won’t remind you not to accidentally install that chip, I don’t know what will. And hey! Shouldn’t that plane have a wing on both sides?


Whoops! Gee, thanks Bob!


The Bob concept might work for other companies as well. How many meat packers would steer clear of deadly bacteria in their products if Bob were standing there with his hands on his hips and tapping his feet?


You think Enron would have gotten out of control if Bob had been there? You think the Detroit Lions would play the way they do if Bob were keeping an eye on things?


This is a great concept. The outside compliance officer. The guy who stands around and makes sure people don’t screw things up. Why didn’t we think of this before?


Especially since, without an outside compliance officer doing this job, some people might start expecting CEOs to do it.


© 2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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