Boeing adds an Admiral to its Board- pluses and minuses

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Boeing Elects Adm. John M. Richardson (Ret.) to Board of Directors

Physics, Electrical Engineering and National Security

Operational safety, Reactor design , technology systems

No Manufacturing, No SMS, but military discipline

Richardson, retired 31st chief of Naval Operations, will join board’s recently established Aerospace Safety Committee

CHICAGO, Oct. 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] Board of Directors today announced that it has elected retired Adm. John M. Richardson as its newest member. Richardson, 59, served as the 31st chief of Naval Operations from September 2015 until August 2019, when he retired from the U.S. Navy after 37 years of service.

Richardson will join the Aerospace Safety Committee, which was formed in August following a rigorous five-month review of the company’s policies and processes for airplane design and development by the board’s temporary Committee on Airplane Policies and Processes. He also will serve on the board’s Special Programs Committee.

“Admiral Richardson has distinguished himself as an exceptional leader with broad operational capabilities and deep expertise in developing and implementing rigorous safety policies and procedures in mission-critical environments,” said Boeing Chairman David Calhoun. “Among other things, he served in four submarines, commanding one of them. He was later responsible for the full life-cycle safety and regulatory compliance requirements for more than 90 reactors around the world on nuclear-powered warships and in land-based facilities. His credentials in safety and instilling a safety-first culture are unparalleled.”

Boeing President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said, “Safety, quality and integrity are critical to all that we do. We welcome Admiral Richardson to the Boeing Board and look forward to benefiting from his insights and leadership as we reinforce the best in our culture and recommit to the values that built Boeing.”

“I have been impressed by the board and management’s commitment to strengthening the safety culture at Boeing,” said Richardson. “Boeing is an outstanding company, and I have no doubt that it will take all the steps necessary to address recent challenges and continue making flying even safer.”

Adm. John M. Richardson (Ret.)

Adm. Richardson has a long career of service with the U.S. Navy, including in the attack submarine division on the Chief of Naval Operations staff, as naval aide to the president, and as director of Strategy and Policy at U.S. Joint Forces Command, among other positions. He also evaluated and taught prospective submarine commanding officers who would be responsible for the lives of their shipmates in extreme environments. He completed his naval career as the director of Naval Reactors and then as the 31st chief of Naval Operations.

Richardson contributed to teams that have been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and other awards for outstanding team performance. He was awarded the Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale Award for his time in command of USS Honolulu.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Richardson holds a Bachelor of Science in physics. He holds master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and national security strategy from the National War College.

Other relevant comments/quotes:

From the US Naval Institute News:

“To the admiral’s mind, the change in technology is one of the most defining features of his tenure leading the Navy. He said he’s been surprised by the pace of change and, reflecting back, said he wishes he had been able to do more to make the Navy as a bureaucracy act more urgently when it comes to thinking of new ways to leverage tech developments and then actually finding and fielding solutions.

“The speed of it – every time you think that you’ve got a little bit of time to do something, you find out you’re behind. This pace is relentless. And then with respect to the technology environment, we’re still figuring out as we get that whole part of our enterprise up on a competitive footing

“Rationalizing all that and making sure your technology is focused on your strategic objectives, this great power competition, that’s been an interesting part. But again, the surprising part is really I think the pace at which it’s moving and this dynamic, who’s in the lead and who’s following, what’s the appropriate balance there, and moving at speed.”

Richardson issued a Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority 2.0 update in December 2018, with a slew of aggressive technology goals that ultimately his successor will have to carry out or disregard.”

From MIT School of Engineering site:

“…This position [CNO] places him on the Joint Chiefs of Staff as adviser to the secretary of defense and the president. He draws on his deep ties to academe to help the Navy keep pace.

From his graduate student days to today, what has remained unchanged is the depth of his attachment to MIT and the warmth and respect between Richardson and his mentors in the MIT-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program.

“As a graduate student, John clearly stood out as brilliant, a leader, and wonderfully warm and friendly,” says Alan Oppenheim, an MIT Ford Professor of Engineering…

The Navy faced a submarine problem in the Atlantic during World War II that MIT helped solve through a rigorous application of emerging science in operations research, he said. “Academe came to our rescue there.”

Richardson pointed to a chart with icons representing the U.S. fleet: ships, satellites, submarines, and aircraft. Let’s redefine the axis, he said. The measure of naval capability no longer rests only on the numerical metric of physical things but also on the ability to network platforms and to manage information.

“Signal processing has a terrific and important role in helping us transcend just making more ships. We must make our ships – and our Navy – more capable as well,” said Richardson. He pointed to a new graph in which U.S. naval power rises beyond exponential curves as the fleet is deeply networked with the assistance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, human and machine teams, and quantum computing.

CEO Muilenburg earlier announced his goals in adding this new Board Member:

A new Board Member will be selected based on his/her deep safety experience and expertise

The new Board Member will be appointed to a new Aerospace Safety Committee.

+ Admiral Richardson is the second engineer on the Board.

    • The Special Airplane and Design Committee found a need for additional engineering talent.

+ He has great connections with academe

        + He bring exceptional experience with global connectivity; the future of aviation safety depends on networking data from flying aircraft.

+His resume shows expertise in developing and implementing rigorous safety policies and procedures.

That’s useful but what the NTSB and JART have both recommended is SMS must be implemented. His biographies do not reveal this experience.

–Military order concepts may not mesh well with the SMS principle that “admission of error” is a positive trait.

This is the 2nd Admiral on the Board-diversity?

      • Existing Board Member Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani also an Admiral and he chaired the Special Airplane and Design Committee

–Admiral Richardson’s safety experience is in operations. Boeing’s problems are focused in design and manufacturing.

The Admiral has an impressive resume and his credentials are exceptional. Boeing is a world class organization; an observer might have expected that a Board Member who has more direct experience in the design and manufacturing of aircraft, especially one who could have led the Board from the top to a fully committed safety culture.








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