Purpose & Audience Exercise

Crash Course: How Boeing’s Managerial Revolution Created the 737 Max Disaster

Read the following article about Boeing’s shift in managerial culture and the two fatal crashes resulting in a worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 Max. 

https://newrepublic.com/article/154944/boeing-737-max-investigation-indonesia-lion-air-ethiopian-airlines-managerial-revolution

As you read, consider the connections between professional and technical communication, organizational hierarchy, and real-world safety/security consequences. After you read, complete the discussion questions below:

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the “managerial revolution” the author refers to in the title? What changed in terms of Boeing’s corporate culture that the author connects to the 737 disaster?
  2. Identify some of the major issues in this article that you would classify as a concern for professional and technical communicators. How do you imagine these issues could have been improved? 
  3. What communication issues does the author point out? Do you agree with their assessment and/or their suggestions for improvement?
  4. Identify places in the article where the author points to a kind of corporate greed or focus on capitalism as a source of the problem. Do you agree, disagree, or have any comments on this? Does this article lead you to believe that Boeing could focus on profit margins/stock prices as well as safety/security?
  5. How does this article illustrate the ways in which discussions of ethics fit into real-world cases of professional and technical communication? 
  6. Additional critics consider PowerPoint as an information delivery system for technical documentation to be fundamentally flawed. Read the following article and explain how this critique adds to some of the issues you have already discussed related to Tkacik’s report above. 

Update: After the publication of Tkacik’s article, Boeing released a collection of internal documents criticizing the 737 Max design as well as a flawed corporate safety culture. Review these documents and the CNN article discussing their significance. How does this new information complicate some of the points discussed above? 


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