Friday, May 2, 2014

Boeing's Five Stages Of Team Building The 787

Many years ago I drank the "Kool-Aide" on Team Building, you may know as the five stages of building a management team in today's workplace. The question is now asked how does this model work for building the 787 Dreamliner? Does it follow this Model and where it will lead the Dreamliner project down the road? Finally does this Dreamliner project spin forward with the final stage in Airline Building as in Team Building? I hope to answer these question from the below outline.

The Five Stages Of Airplane (Team) Building The 787:
  • Forming 2003
  • Storming 2007-2013
  • Norming 2014
  • Performing 2015
  • Adjourning 2016

Forming is easy to pin down. The announcement of the miracle 787, and its proposed way of thinking about wide bodies. The all electric, central core driven, and all plastic 787 was such a huge announcement since the wright Brothers first flight. Boeing turned its engines and engineers of production towards making this vision a reality. The mission was to launch a working copy for testing by fall of 2007 forming. Then mission creep worked into the next stage, storming period, and the 787 failed its original vision, but has since made it out during norming.

Storming has a long cycle which became unfortunate for Boeing. Starting at  the 2007 roll out falling short of the 787 Vision, and a three and a half years of delay had these stormy issues roiling in turbulent air as follows:
  • In 2007, 787 was a Bridge Too Far, when the complexity of the show over-whelmed the forming stage with drastic changes to Boeing developments the following storms followed:
  • Suppliers and supply chain  not meeting expectations
  • Delaminations
  • Bad fastener problem
  • Early test fires in electrical panel
  • Latter, Battery fires while in service
  • Three Month shutdown from battery problem.
  • Ethiopian-London Fire near the crown of its 787 
  • Various systems failures
  • Various landing gear problems
  • Engine shutdown during flight
Its not over until the fat lady sings, as the latest storms have passed over Charleston on the production floor. Holes on the wing were drilled leaving weaknesses at the hole site on forty sets of aircraft wings. Boeing had to backtrack and correct both the Charleston production problems and the micro fractures from improperly tapped holes on the wings. Charleston production floor problems and reorganization.

The above list has shrunk down to only minor faults at this time as no battery fires or failed systems continue on the press radar at this time. Storming Bullets above have clearer skies. Charleston has just up paced Boeing's expectations at Charleston's floor, and is becoming a player in the Airplane wars.

Norming has just begun by the end of this year (2014), if Boeing pushes out 110 787's for 2014 then I would say this phase in Airplane Team Building has come, and is set in Boeing's future. Norming represents so many things as it builds 787-9's from lessons learned from the 787-8 debacle of storming. The Nine is allowed an opportunity to add new technology like the Laminar Air Flow project making the 787-9 less sticky going through the air, than 787-8, that's Airplane Team Building. The 787-9 doesn't step backwards to solve the 787-8 past problems.. The 787-10 should have a greater development experience than what the 787-9 has just experienced. That this has become norming at its finest moment.

Performing for both ground and air. 2015 will be a new sales team year for the 787. The ground game will be solid from production to its delivery day, and in the air, the 787 comes home to roost on every passenger airline's bottom line. The performance of all involved will be show cased in 2015. So much so, that this fourth stage should bring in another 150 Dreamliners on the books by that years end.

Adjourning is something I 'll try to understand just from the meaning of the word so I'll go back on the 777 project and pin point the 777 adjourning back from the early part of 2000. Everything is set from the prior four stages of Airplane Team Building during the 777 project. It had gone through Forming in 1990. Storming those heady first years in the air. Norming from 1995 onward until its performing evolved the 777-300ER, because of recognition from older models performances, and what Boeing could do better with its New 777-300ER, the old early builds were adjourned by the 777-300ER, as will it be adjourned by the New 777X family by 2020. Therefore, the 787 family will not adjourn until the 787-10 is with its customers and production is in continuous stage of repetition, much like the 737 NG  has experienced. Since the MAX is going through its forming stage at this time, and the storming hasn't begun, but the 737 NG has adjourned from its forming through performance enhancements. Airplane Building really does follow the team building model, as one can observe these stages from an arms length view. Its quite simple how the Team Building author laid out a brilliant progression of human accomplishment. It still is as valid model today while team building airplanes at every level from the conference room to the factory floor. Note: this is a very large group version.

About the Model

Psychologist Bruce Tuckman first came up with the memorable phrase "forming, storming, norming, and performing" in his 1965 article, "Developmental Sequence in Small Groups." He used it to describe the path that most teams follow on their way to high performance. Later, he added a fifth stage, "adjourning" (which is sometimes known as "mourning").