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Taking notes from the” Bombardier Way”

When I came across a link to a Report on Business video that featured McGill University’s Karl Moore speaking about management with Bombardier’s CEO Guy Hachey who explained his company’s new mind-body-soul connection, I was intrigued. After all, the Bombardier has well over 30,000 employees and has somehow, managed to learn from the past, evolved and is now leading the way. And so with the click of a mouse I followed to learn all about the new aerospace giant’s corporate strategy.

As it turns out, the ” Bombardier Way” is as much about the company’s culture –it’s soul—as it is about vision and process. Hachey describes how they communicate the strategy by using the mind-body-soul analogy. First, he starts off with the “mind” which relates to the “what we are trying to do as a company.” Basically, it the business plans—the mission or vision of a company. “It’s our sandbox so I tell them the mind is important. I said, “most companies have the mind, but you know, we have to know we’re going to play and what we’re going to compete in,” he tells Moore.

The second aspect is the body, which is basically “the processes and the procedures, the policies, the systems, the operating systems we have in place.” Hachey explains further by saying how vital it is to have a system that is based on lean principles that qualifies employees into these segments. While Bombardier is aiming for a gold star it is a silver-rated organization. “We’re trying to get a gold. It will probably take us another two years….. and that’s all for 30,000 people; we’re getting trained in the same approach,” he says of the operating system set in place to reach excellence at Bombardier.

Finally, there’s the soul or, “the mushy stuff—the more important stuff,” describes Hachey to Moore. It is interesting how much value they place on the kind of culture they want to have, the behaviors, the norms and they expect their people to behave. “I guess it is the collective personality of the company and how we come across to our stakeholders, customers and communities,” he tells.

What is particularly interesting to me is how open and transparent this aerospace giant has become in a time when the airline business has suffered greatly from the natural freak of nature—the volcanic ash that grounded plans everywhere around the world. Not only was it an opportune time to promote its brand but also speak so highly of its team of workers.

When asked how such shifts, trends or changes in strategy and plans can last years and years down the road, Hachey responds by saying “it is something that has got to be the long term. It’s really ….the collective personality of our enterprise. And I keep telling our people, when our customers rouch us, when our supplies touch us, they have to be able to differentiate that they weren’t dealing with Rockwell Collins or GM or some other company.” Now this approach isn’t for everyone. Not everyone wants to be a part of a particular corporate culture.

But as Hachey continues on, it is evident that most of the people at Bombardier are responsive to their “way.” What we’re finding is that the great majority of employees want this. They want to have clarity. They want to have ownership. They want to belong – to belong to something. And I keep telling people, “I’m hoping that, 10 years from now, we look back as a team and we say, ‘We were part of this evolution and now we’re the standard of the industry or in the top quartile of the industry and we did it.’ ” And, that’s what we come to work for. That’s what I come to work for now.”

That’s a solid effort to say competitive in this tough economic time—and I would hope that my bet is save with Bombardier coming out on top.

To watch the full interview, visit:

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