Sorscher [Stan Sorscher, an engineer at Boeing and an official of the engineers’ union] recalled a labor-management breakfast ... at which a top Boeing executive said that the company would reduce spending on a program that employed engineers to find improvements in the process of making planes. Sorscher, a member of the union’s bargaining unit at the time, pointed out how much money process improvement was saving the company.
The executive tipped his head back, as if thinking how best to explain basic economics to a clueless scientist. Finally, as Sorscher recalled, the executive said, “The decisions I make have more influence over outcomes than all the decisions you make.” Sorscher told me, “It was: ‘I can’t help but make a billion dollars every time I pick up the phone. You people do things that save four hundred thousand dollars, that take one shift out of flow time—who gives a crap?’"