I told a nice story in my Entrepreneur’s Diary #41 (Unternehmertagebuch #41). I had heard the story from a US professor. It answered the question why the British Empire under Queen Victoria thrived so uniquely, regardless of communication at the time being all but easy and, above all, taking a very long time.

Today, I want to answer another question in a similar way – again metaphorically with an example:

Airbus A400M, Schattenrisse, created by Hilbertz, Quelle siehe P.S.

Airbus A400M, Shadow Images, created by Hilbertz, source see P.S.1

How is it possible that Airbus is so successful with developing products such as the A 380 while at the same time the M400 seems to be a disaster?


As often, we can read all the important information about the A380 in Wikipedia. I am truly impressed to read the extraordinary achievements of the Airbus. They developed a new and totally extraordinarily big plane in high precision. They moved to new dimensions, also using totally new materials.

I would consider the difficulties that arose during the project as very normal and absolutely below the average for this size of project, especially if you consider the delays the competition Boeing had to accept with their “dreamliner“.


You will also find all you need to know about A400M in Wikipedia. And over the last few years, bad and very negative news about this project have reached us. The worst accident was probably the crash of an A400M with the production number MSN023 during its first test flight in Spain on May, 9th, 2015. To the outsider, the project A300m looks totally “out of time und budget“. It seems to be a true “big project catastrophe”, and getting worse.

Here is the question:

How is it possible that, in the same enterprise, an airplane has been so successfully developed? And at the same time, the development of another is such an extreme failure?

I assume that the development of the two planes were two different projects with different humans working on said projects. Consequently, the answer is quite simple:

It is because of the humans working in the projects.

Here are potential reasons:

  • The A380 was a civil project and was
  • communicated as a positive vision and a huge challenge for Airbus.
  • It represented innovation and a revolution in the flying industry and became
  • the metaphor for the future of Airbus.
  • The A400M was a military plane and
  • at least the outsiders perceived it as “just another military aircraft“.
  • Which certainly was true for the short-sighted view based on conservative technology.

And now here is my question:

Which project would you have volunteered for?

(Translated by EG)

For more articles of my entrepreneurial diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

I took the picture from Wikipedia. Created by Hilbertz with imaging software in April 2014, published under CC BY-SA3.0.

2 Kommentare zu “Entrepreneur’s Diary #117 – Why is it that, in the same enterprise, success and failure can be so close to each other?”

  1. Daniel (Tuesday May 24th, 2016)

    So technisch anspruchsvoll und gelungen der A380 auch ist, wirtschaftlich ist er ein totaler Reinfall.

    Tatsächliches Zugpferd bei Airbus ist derzeit der A320neo.


  2. rd (Tuesday May 24th, 2016)

    Danke für den Hinweis. Das glaube ich gerne. Im Artikel ging es mir vor allem darum, zu erklären warum Projekterfolg auch im selben Unternehmen so unterschiedlich sein kann …

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