Control Mechanisms and the Boeing Corporation

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Control Mechanisms Paper and The Boeing Corporation

Annette Bauer, Latresha Fowler Ockletree, and Paula Prasatik


Mark Hardee

October 4, 2010

Every organization utilizes some form of control to maintain there organization. Boeing is no exception. Some of the controls that Boeing uses are: six sigma, budgetary controls, Employee Incentive Program (EIP) and Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Control mechanisms are used by organizations to assist in regulating procedures. This paper will identify the way these controls are applied, compare and contrast them, determine the effectiveness of them, examine the positive and negative reactions to the use of these controls and explain how they impact the four functions of management.

The primary control mechanism that Boeing utilizes is Six Sigma. It is a Bureaucratic Control approach, which emerged in the late 1980,’s and was developed by Motorola (Bateman & Snell, 2009, p. 581). Six Sigma is a highly defined discipline and its roots are “a particularly robust and powerful application of feedback control” however, it “aims for defect-free performance” (Bateman & Snell, 2009). Boeing first referred to their method of manufacturing as ‘Lean’ but later adopted the term ‘LSS’ (Lean Six Sigma), as “they began to complement their Lean initiatives with Six Sigma” (Marx, 2005, para. 3).

In an article published by Boeing Frontiers Online, author Rick Roff (2005, p. 1) writes, “Six Sigma is a rigorous methodology to improve both manufacturing and business process controls, uses a disciplined approach called Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. It relies on data and facts to find root causes that improve parts and processes, relationships with customers and the company's bottom line.”

Boeing’s latest innovation is its 787 Dreamliner. It has been designed and manufactured using the latest in technology advances. According to Boeing (n.d.), “the 787 will provide airlines with unmatched fuel efficiency, resulting in exceptional environmental performance. The airplane will use 20 percent less fuel for comparable missions than today’s similarly sized airplane. It will also travel at speeds similar to today’s fastest wide bodies, Mach 0.85. Airlines will enjoy more cargo revenue capacity” (About the 787 Family, para. 3). Boeing’s superior progress is due to the Six Sigma control mechanism.

One way that Boeing’s LSS (Lean Six Sigma) control mechanism came into play, circumventing future significant problems relative to its 787 Dreamliner and other innovations, was in 2005 while diagnosing a recirculation problem in air fans of a Boeing 877 and dealing with it succinctly. A component failure in recirculation air fans due to FOD (Foreign Object Debris) and two electrical issues were identified, resolved and extreme measures were taken in order to minimize the statistics of it occurring again. Roff (2005) writes:

The results show the success with Six Sigma, Limb said. After 18 fan failures in two years, we went four and a half months without a rejection,” he said. “We haven’t completely eliminated the rejections, but we’re close.”

Another control mechanism that Boeing utilizes, as do nearly all organizations, is Budgetary Controls. This control mechanism is also a Bureaucratic Control approach. According to Bateman and Snell (2009, p. 584), “It ties together feed forward control, concurrent control, and feedback control, depending on the point at which it is applied. Budgetary control is the process of finding out what’s being done and comparing the results with the corresponding budget data to verify accomplishments or remedy differences.”

Boeing’s completion date for its 787 Dreamliner was initially scheduled for 2007. Since that time, the completion date has changed repeatedly and the delivery date is now scheduled for the first quarter of 2011. This current projection date remains to be seen. Some...
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