At Boeing, Innovation Means Small Steps, Not Giant Leaps

Posted by Cheryl Perkins on April 19, 2015

This is a great lesson learned for aerospace giant Boeing, who recently discovered that saving up a trove of advanced technologies for a single new project was simply too expensive and disruptive to succeed.  The WSJ has the story:

Source; Boeing, via the Wall Street Journal

After a turbulent decade, Boeing Co. is rethinking its formula for innovation.

The 99-year-old aerospace giant long has focused on developing new technologies that it reserved for big projects every 15 years or so to craft the fastest—and farthest-flying jetliners—such as its 787 Dreamliner.

Today, Boeing is centering innovation on incremental improvements that it can deliver more quickly to airlines with greater reliability and at a lower price, said Ray Conner, chief executive of Boeing’s commercial airplane unit, in an interview.

Mr. Conner is overseeing the development of seven models to upgrade Boeing’s portfolio of jets with capacities from 125 seats to just over 400 seats, plus a new military refueling tanker. The updated products are adapting some of the technologically advanced features of the Dreamliner to models that have long been in production.

“It’s not to say you don’t innovate,” said Mr. Conner. He wants engineers “innovating more on how to [design jets] more simplistically, as opposed to driving more complexity,” he said. “How do you innovate to make it more producible? How do you innovate to make it more reliable?”

Read the rest here

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