Boeing celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding this week. Few of its competitors will ever reach such a milestone, which raises the question of how Boeing managed to survive and thrive in a hyper-competitive industry during a period of continuous change. Aside from engineering excellence and financial discipline, five things stand out. First, Boeing learned early-on how to operate without the guidance of a visionary founder. Second, its engineering-driven culture was willing to spend whatever amount of money was needed to stay ahead — even when that entailed big risks. Third, it adapted readily to changes in the market rather than trying to stick with a few signature products. Fourth, it generated synergies from serving both commercial and government markets. Finally, it built resilience by diversifying beyond aircraft into rotorcraft, spacecraft, launch vehicles, missiles and services. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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