Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing, appeared before the US Congress yesterday in a performance that had the stench of overzealous media training. In an attempt to appear sad-eyed and apologetic, he ended up looking like he was stuck on death row without the reward of a last meal.
Conservatively suited and booted, Muilenburg was contrite yet embarrassingly underprepared on the actual, important detail surrounding the fatal 737 Max crashes – and bereft of authentic integrity. Pointed questions were answered indirectly and without detail, presumably with one eye on future consequences. The corporate lexicography was littered with the expected earworms; principals, legacy values.
Although it was impossible to predict what curveball questions would be thrown his way, surely Muilenburg could have offered more insight. For example, he should have addressed why some of Boeing’s work was certified internally, rather than the FAA taking control.
The only productive response would have been to accept they made a terrible mistake and propose radical regulation. But Muilenburg swiftly lost credibility by complicating the matter instead of offering a simple and proactive response.
When faced with an important question on who knew what when, Muilenburg simply chose to offer condolences to the friends and families of the victims. It was a delivery that was so empty and wooden it was offensive.
Muilenburg did not give any hope that he’s going to tackle this issue with gumption – rather he seems content to hide behind empty apologies.
Mark Borkowski is founder of Borkowski PR.