LEARNING FROM BOEING’S DREAMLINER

Tonight I watched a documentary on CNBC that I recorded from earlier this week about the Dreamliner 787 that Boeing finally delivered this week.  My reactions were two-fold.  First, I really want to fly in one.  It looks like quite the experience.

  • Apparently the windows are much larger allowing for better views and there are no window shades.  It is touch controlled window tinting.
  • The cabin has ambient lighting which changes during the flight.
  • It is not made of aluminum, but a super strong carbon fiber polymer something or another that is lightweight.  My suspicion is that this will not only make the plane more fuel-efficient but probably greater thrust and maybe a better ride.
  • According to the documentary, the design of the plane cuts down on engine noise significantly.
  • More oxygen is added to the cabin to decrease that dry, yucky plane ride feel.

My second reaction, though was amazement at how much making the Dreamliner reminded me of church life—particularly the hard work of doing something new against the backdrop of a changing world.

  •  The design team had several snags.  In fact, they kept having to redesign the thing over and over again.  This reminds me of how in ministry, very rarely does anything work right the first time out.
  •  Boeing experienced overwhelming cost overruns on the project.  The experts said this was mainly because the company was far too optimistic on the timeline.  I see this in church and I have suffered from it often.  We have too rosy a picture at how we can do new and bold things easily and swiftly.  This rosy view is then crushed by reality and this makes us want to quit.  I applaud Boeing for not quitting.  Neither should we.
  • Work stoppage played a significant role in Boeing’s delays.  Now, I have no desire here to get into the politics of union busting or right to work states like South Carolina but the parallel to church is uncanny.  One of the greatest problems we often face is turnover in people.  Whether it be relocation or people who change churches (either coming or going).  Work stoppage or delay hinders momentum.
  •  Boeing tried to save money by having many of the component parts brought in from other places like Japan, Italy, Brazil, and France.  The problem was, many of those parts did not ‘fit’ the design schema and literally were redone right there on the floor here in Seattle.  In addition, I’ve heard from some that often the things done in South Carolina had to be completely redone when it arrived up here.  This reminded me of how in church life we are often guilty of ‘importing’ ideas, programs, or methods from other parts of the country (like Southern California, Alabama, or Suburban Chicago) and try to make them fit here.  It doesn’t always work and often we have to ‘rebuild’ it on the spot.
  • The company executive kept talking about the ‘psychology of the passenger experience’ on the plane.  It sounded very much like the books I’ve read lately on the ‘first impressions guests have at church.’  The funny thing was, apparently Boeing spent a lot of money on these psychological impressions but the executive said, in the end, if the customer receives poor service from the airline, none of that really makes a difference.  Kind of like church there, too.

When it comes to airplanes, I’m very much a homer on the equipment.  I will generally go out of my way to fly in Boeing airplanes, and I’m very fond of the 737.  I do not like when an airline tries to kill me by putting me in an Airbus.  I am looking anxiously forward to being able to fly in a 787 and I hope it is sooner rather than later.

BUCKET LIST BLOG

One of the things I love so much about my church is the Big Small.  The Big Small is “a small group for big boys.”  Like so many churches we organize our spiritual formations and fellowship primarily around small groups of people.  When I decided to start a small group for men I wanted to emphasize that we were all big boys!  Hence, the Big Small!

Tonight we had our “Big Fun” which is what we call our fun events.  In the past we’ve done everything from barbeque, eat out at a local restaurant, or watch sports.  One of the things we like to do is watch movies.  Last year we watched High Noon—now that is a great movie.  Tonight we watched The Bucket ListThe Bucket List is not a great movie like High Noon, but it is a great movie that makes you think—especially for men.

Now, I can’t tell you how the evening went, because in the Big Small, everything is strictly confidential.  In fact, that is in our creed—“Confidentiality is necessary for honest dialogue among men.”  But I can tell you that even though I’d seen the movie a couple of years ago, it still made me think about life and death, my family, my friends, and what the five or six people who might show up at my funeral might say when I am dead.

I’ve never made anything like a bucket list because life comes at me too fast and I think I would tend to change my list based on what I’m interested in at the time.  For example, five years ago I might have had a bucket list item as “get a book published.”  But, alas, I’ve accomplished that.  What I’ve noticed is the things I’d like to do are less professional or career oriented now and more experiential oriented.  I still resist making a list, but here are three things that, right now, I think would be very nice indeed.

  •             I would like to ride in a commercial airliner—737 or how about a 787—in the cockpit with the flight crew.  I’ve logged many miles in coach, and a few in first class, but never in a commercial airliner’s cockpit.  I just think it would be fascinating to see forward, check out the instrumentation, and listen to all the aviator lingo of the pilots.
  •             My second cool thing I’m thinking about right now is that it would be grand to have a conversation, maybe dinner or lunch, with a former president of the United States.  The political persuasion of the man is irrelevant in my wants.  I just would like to talk about the pressure, the ups, the downs and see how a man who has carried that unique weight acts and thinks.
  •             Okay, one more.  I want to live long enough to see my great grandchildren.  I know that is more of an achievement than an experience but nevertheless it is something I want.  I want to see both daughters live long, full and productive lives.  I want to grow old with my wife and spoil my family.  I want to lay my hands on my heritage and bless them.