The 737 MAX illustrates exactly what is wrong with Boeing’s safety culture.
It’s not a “safety” culture. It’s a beancounter culture. The fact that short term cost savings for one person’s budget is rewarded. That’s the problem. Ironically, Dennis’ new Boeing Behaviors call for a paradigm shift that you will be rewarded to decisions that benefit the overall company, not someone’s individual business unit. That’s been a lot of the problem.
A lot of times the employees have to fight against clueless mid-level managers who have their own agendas to get them to do the right thing. How some of these people get to those positions is beyond me.
However, there is a rigorous Safety Review process. What you don't see is all the in service reports that results on design improvements on other models because leaders did want to uphold the highest level of safety.
There seemed to be less focus on improvements to 737 though due to the sheer number being produced.
Another thing coming out of the MCAS issue is a shift in assumptions of how much you can rely on crews to handle an emergency. In the Asiana and Turkish accidents, the crews lacked even the most basic of skills and ability to monitor airspeed and fly manually if needed.
I know people like to put all the blame on Boeing, and that’s justified. But remember, Lion Air dispatched an unairworthy airplane with an improperly installed and tested AOA Vane. Ethiopian inexplicably stayed at full takeoff thrust which inhibited their ability to recover the airplane. When you have customers doing stuff like that, some design assumptions need to be changed.
MCAS was a mistake, but it was not an intentional disregard for safety. Right or wrong, it was expected the crews would recognize and perform the Runaway Stab procedure. That turned out to be an incorrect analysis, but not a lack of “safety culture”.