Designing the Future at Boeing: Lunch with Wayne Barringer

I was in Boston last fall and met Wayne Barringer, the director of Creative Services at The Boeing Company. We had such a great time over lunch at the IHAF Conference that I thought you would enjoy getting to know him, too. I also invited him to share his fascinating insights on innovation at the HOW Design Live Conference next month in Atlanta!

Sit back, relax and enjoy this Q&A with my new friend Wayne Barringer who is designing the future right now with his stellar in-house team at Boeing. When you finish, register for the conference and don’t miss Wayne’s session, “Don’t Let Your Superpower Be Your Kryptonite: Boldly Reinventing the In-House Agency.” Be sure to use my discount code ROBERTS50.

Hey Wayne! What’s cooking for lunch today?
Pancakes. Nothing’s better than sneaking away for that elusive lunch at the nearest diner, a rare workday treat.

Where did you grow up? Was there any opposition to your creative peculiarities?
Dallas. My amazing wife, parents and family have put up with my moody insecurity forever. They’re used to it.

I’m curious. What’s your earliest creative memory?
Red ink. I broke in as a writer and an account executive. My earliest memories are of my creative director and copy editors bleeding constantly on my copy. Taught me one thing: there will always be red ink on your copy.

Ha! I can totally relate. You choose to work in-house at The Boeing Company. Why?
Legacy. Boeing has and is changing the world. My role is to change the in-house agency for the benefit of the company. I’m happiest when I can have an impact on a group, team or organization.

Have you ever had a fear of flying? What advice would offer to someone who may have aerophobia?
No. A prerequisite for working at Boeing is no aerophobia. My advice is to know that airplanes today are safer than ever, understand that driving is more dangerous than flying, and perhaps make friends with the beverage cart.

How is your in-house team impacting the future at Boeing?
At The Boeing Company, we design the future. And we’ve been doing it for a century.

Few companies can claim world-changing innovation in engineering and design. We can.

Not only does our team of designers have exciting products to support—the 787, Starliner, 737 MAX—we’re approaching each with innovation of our own.


In fact, over the past couple of years, we’ve found new ways to bring our design team even closer to the corporate, engineering, and manufacturing groups that create the Boeing products that touch people around the world.

One thing we’ve accomplished is our collaborative design-thinking workshop series that brings together stakeholders and other business partners to develop understanding, consensus, and design solutions that align with our great Boeing brand. Design challenges addressed in these Start Here workshops have included everything from improving safety on the factory floor to developing new human resources tools to naming products.


Beyond the great work we do in support of our innovative Boeing products, something else excites our design. When you gather our team together, without exception you’ll find that each team member has a personal connection with our products. Designers, like aerospace engineers, are dreamers. It’s in our DNA. Each of us knows that whatever we do today helps to bring people together, keep people safer, and inspire others to dream big too.

That’s what designing the future is all about.

Who are your design heroes; how have they influenced your creative sensibilities, aesthetics and work?
Hmmm. I hope this isn’t blasphemy, but to me, the utmost beauty is when design and copy dance gracefully as one. I don’t have heroes as much as awe-inspirers.

If you could grab a bite to eat with anyone in our industry (alive or dead), who would it be and why?
Ogilvy. His work and his persona were groundbreaking.

Thanks, Wayne! I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more at your session in May.