Airbus, currently being presided over by its second Chairman in ten months, is a larger-than-life example of how the world reacts to tales of missed corporate expectation.
Everything's big about the Airbus case - the stakeholders, the interests, the money and the egos (not to mention the A380 itself) - which makes it easy to spot the issues that businesses have to deal with when they consider outsourcing.
Above all, the case shows that outsourcing decisions are seldomly based on business reasons alone. Emotional motivations are just as important.
Now, I’m not going to dwell on any partners that may, or may not, have let Airbus down. And I won’t be fuelling the sceptcism by referring to ‘crippling production delays’ or dramatically ‘shelved plans’.
But what I do want to underline is the emotions that so easily become a focus in high profile business agreements. The A380 is the most public of products, with the potential to touch many people’s lives when the project eventually bears fruit.
What we all need to ensure we remember is that this is just business, and emotions do play a large part whether we like it or not. It’s the same in all business relationships, including large outsourcing deals.
Cultural bonds between companies make a huge difference. Trust is paramount. When you’re giving a sensitive part of your business away to a partner to look after, the deal just has to feel right.
The sooner businesses realise that, despite the myths that ‘greed is good’, emotion plays a large part in modern corporate relationships, the better.