I have worked for or supplied most of the aerospace giants – Rolls Royce, GE, Pratt & Whitney, Boing, Airbus, Bombardier, MBDA, GKN Aerospace, Cobham, Zodiac, B/E Aerospace. I have worked for or supplied many of the key automotive companies – Toyota, Nissan, Vauxhall, Rover, JLR, the old AE Group, Johnson Controls; and I have supplied the confectionary giant Mars. Within the spectrum the good ones have got the basics right. The excellent have gone beyond and harnessed the full range of capabilities of their staff.
- Interestingly I look back on my Strathclyde Graduate Business School MBA thesis, almost 20 years ago, in which I attempted to provide a set of word pictures for each element of what a ‘good’ OEM might look like, and I still believe I got it right. Rather than ‘trying to pull a rabbit out of the hat’ a good company will aim to ‘get the basics right’ in every aspect of its performance. Get the basics right across the company and you are in position to take advantage of luck as defined/attributed to Roman philosopher and statesman Senecca the Younger: luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. It’s not rocket science and yet ‘the basics’ are too boring to merit academic research or attract publicity.
Excellence is something ‘over and beyond’. I did my first masters in Advanced Manufacturing/Business Studies at Durham in the mid 80s, when the basics of Japanese manufacturing systems were first being written about, and just before the word LEAN was turbocharged by the Womack, Jones & Roos book ‘The Machine That Changed The World’. Based on the Toyota Production System the concept of Lean stunned the manufacturing world; and ever since I’ve thought heavily on the subject of it and of excellence – Lean and its American counterpart, Motorola’s ‘Six Sigma’.