The recent Netflix documentary “Downfall” shed light on the tragedy of the two crashes of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft in the space of 5 months.

Was the issue at Boeing one of culture?

How does corporate culture contribute to the success or failure of an organisation?

Good corporate culture starts at the top, led by a CEO who sets the tone and clearly and visibly follows the organisation’s values. Employees are a key stakeholder within a business and with good corporate culture, they are more motivated, engaged, and loyal. The culture of a company directly correlates with the passion and the commitment employees have towards the vision and service/product, ensuring that everyone within the organisation is unified and working towards one quality end goal.

Motivated employees are driven to succeed, supporting efficiency within an organisation. Employees are key in the development of a service/product, and it is important to ensure they feel safe and supported, enabling them to speak up when something is not right or feels off.

Whistle-blowers

It is vital that whistle-blowers can exist within any organisation. These can be any personnel, at any level; and they serve the purpose of shedding light on issues within a team, or within working practices, demonstrating integrity, commitment, and loyalty to the business. This ensures success, and that the organisation is true to the values it claims to hold, and that they do the right thing… even when no one is watching!

Within an entity, a whistle-blower should be supported not scrutinised. All too often within companies when a toxic-blame culture arises, someone is always at fault. This is an ineffective way of dealing with issues, as it creates a culture in which no one can speak up without the risk of persecution. When a problem occurs, there should be openness and transparent discussions on how an issue can be resolved. This goes a long way to prevent a culture of blame and when people feel respected and secure they are able to have those difficult conversations when they feel something is not quite right.

Whistle-blowers and their relationship with company culture

The treatment and happiness of employees heavily influences how matters of concern are verbalised. Whistle-blowers must be treated with respect and their concerns managed appropriately. Corporate culture should avoid any policies which result in whistle-blowers being treated unfairly by being dismissed, let go or moved on. Any concerns raised should be taken seriously and should be acted on to create a safe, and productive work environment for everyone. It is also important that whistleblowing procedures have the right person(s) accountable for their follow up and resolution.

An entity should not wish to maintain culpable deniability, and any entity which maintains a good company culture would actively encourage people to speak up for what they believe is right, without fear of consequence.

Can good governance save lives?

It can certainly save an organisation and their reputation.

The importance of creating a safe and friendly corporate culture lies heavily in the governance of an organisation. Good governance allows for all procedures to be reviewed, to create a safe and robust environment where issues are considered and acted upon correctly.

Every organisation needs governance, from charities to the military. If a trained employee has found an issue or finds that a way of doing something, a process, is inefficient and unsafe, then this should be heavily considered. This applies to all sectors, including aerodynamics.