Raytheon’s CEO is Accused of Plagarism


Incidents and Accidents, Hints and Allegations

Update: I don't know how to spell “Plagiarist.” I'd rather be a bad speller than a plagiarist.

Here is the original blog that exposed Raytheon CEO William Swanson's plagarism. I discovered his “33 rules” in Business 2.0 magazine, which wrote about it some time back. His list was wildly popular, Raytheon was giving away a ton of copies (300,000) and the CEO was getting quite a bit of positive press and praise for it.

These bits of wisdom included the following points:

  • “In dealing with customers and outsiders remember that you represent the company … be careful of you commitments.”
  • “Be extremely careful of the accuracy of your statements.”

Oops, be careful of your commitments and statements… turns out these points and others were ripped off word-for-word from an obscure 1944 book. An HP engineer discovered this and blogged about it. Next thing you know, it's in the NY Times and the CEO is being punished (slapped on the wrist?) and has to be embarrassed about it.

It's a sad sign of the state of integrity in our business “leadership” community.

The Raytheon website not says “page not found” when you click on the “CEO Handbook” link (how Orwellian). But, thanks to Google, you can still read the page where Raytheon brags about his wisdom.

They say (said):

“Imagine a lifetime's worth of executive wisdom, boiled down to a handy pocket-sized guide. Corporate leaders and management executives alike are clamoring for it – and the author is none other than Raytheon's own Chairman and CEO Bill Swanson.”


In true “leader” style, he blamed a subordinate, as this blog points out…. the blog (which I'm properly attributing here as Daniel Gross's blog) says:

“In 2001, Mr. Swanson gave the staff member a file of material to help prepare a presentation, and the file included Mr. King's book. Mr. Swanson didn't realize that so much of the finished product came from the book, rather than his own notes. This may well be true, but it certainly isn't consistent with Mr. Swanson's previous boasts about how he came up with the rules. In the book, he wrote that they had come from advice from others and his own thoughts. In any event, he has failed his own integrity test. ” ‘Integrity,' to me,” he writes, “is having the fortitude to do what is right when no one is watching.” “

Daniel Gross said all that. Not me. Unless he ripped it off from some other blog. who knows.

Update: Mr. Gross was quoting the New York Times on his blog without really citing it directly. How ironic?

It's ironic that the original Business 2.0 article is still being hosted on Raytheon servers. Click here to download it.

Here is Swanson's “apology”.

The Raytheon board isn't really punishing Swanson much at all. He won't get a raise this year. Boo hoo. I guess business results and “vision” matter more than leadership and integrity and taking responsibility. Should Swanson resign or be fired? I don't know if it's THAT serious of a situation, but I'm almost as disappointed with his and Raytheon's response to all of this.

Maybe it's a lack of corporate integrity and lack of leadership that's killing American manufacturing, not cheap overseas wages?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. It is interesting to note that most of the major scandals of recent years would not have happened if the perpetrator had said, “Sorry, I screwed up.” Instead we have had large attempted coverups that have lead to jail time for lying and one impeachment trial.

  2. No one should throw the baby out with the bathwater. Raytheon’s board and Mr. Swanson should drop several notches in everyone’s esteem, but the principles he stole are still very good.

    If you have one of the 300,000 copies, just scratch ‘Swanson’ and ‘Ratheon’ off the cover and pencil in Daniel Gross, and they are as good as ever.


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