Q: Was the firing of Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg the right decision?
Yes — but perhaps not until now.
It’s easy to say in a crisis situation the CEO should be fired.
But Boards of Directors have to ask an important question in a crisis — Could Someone Else Do Better?
There are many sources of crises, and almost all companies will go through them. Many times, the company would be far worse off firing a CEO who already knows the business, the team, the market, the customers, etc. very well.
Firing the CEO isn’t the answer in many challenging situations. The answer instead is often backing the CEO to push through the tough times.
Yes, Boeing has been through an existential crisis with the 737 Max and Muilenberg’s job should have been constantly on the line for that.
But it looks like until the partial failure of the Starliner, the Board wasn’t sure. They weren’t sure someone else could do better. But when another crisis hit, then they knew. When the Starliner failed due to another quality issue, under his watch, that probably made it crystal clear.
They knew they were better off without him.