What Clubs Can Learn From the Boeing 737 Max 8

While exercising one morning a few weeks back I watched with interest a discussion between CNN Science/Aviation Correspondent Miles O’Brien and Former FAA Inspector General Mary Schiavo (also the author of Blind Trust).  As a 44-year licensed pilot and flight instructor and frequent airline passenger, I have considerable interest in the fate of the grounded Boeing 737 Max 8.

What struck me most about their discussion were two comments:

  • O’Brien mentioned that Boeing’s new CFO has an accounting background and suggested that it might be time to install someone with an engineering background at the helm.
  • Schiavo mentioned that the 737 Max 8 was certified under the already existing 737 series certification and that for it to fly in the future, may have to undergo a completely new (and costly) certification process, as a new airplane.

Both of these comments hit close to home based on my observations in the private club industry.  Well-meaning boards, often made up of either the most popular or just the most “club focused” members make decisions for the club based on either their own personal preferences or bad advice.

It’s been said that health care is the most vital issue in our elections these days.  Doesn’t it seem backwards that hospital administrators and insurance executives are dictating so many of the health care decisions we make instead of our trusted personal physicians?

The difference in the club world is that the members actually hire professionals and then tell them what to do.  There are many clubs that fail to take advantage of the expertise they pay for.  Even when those clubs retain consultants, they either retain consultants that will “tell them what they want to hear” and simply serve as a “rubber stamp” to bless the board’s desires.

Like any other organization or business, clubs need to develop the best team by getting the right players in the right positions.  This involves the members, staff and management all understanding the club’s culture, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  This can only be achieved by first taking an objective an unbiased look at the club through a clear lens.  Club leadership needs to be realistic, membership needs to be informed and staff needs to feel free to speak up.  Creating the right team with the right goals for the specific club can avoid disasters like the 737 Max 8.