Montreal is host to the world’s third largest aircraft manufacturer. That is, euphemistically, no small feat.
Bombardier -- with its Learjet, Challenger and Global series of business aircraft (some of which, like the Global8000, can fly nearly 15,000km) -- has acquired over the years a capacity that makes it stand-out in its category.
Being amongst the leading players in such an industry imposes a number of constraints, but is also the sign of outstanding innovativeness and creativity. Such expansion is combined with precision, control, obsession with details. What this entails is an ability to manage complexity at a level unequaled by any other manufacturing industry - a mixture of design (both in aerodynamics, performance, but also in terms of aesthetics) and engineering that feeds into the production of one of the world’s most sophisticated artifacts. Planes, as some will have it, may very well be one of our civilization’s most astonishing accomplishments, both in terms of science and technology, but also in terms of public policy.
Developing the ability to drive such an endeavour successfully doesn’t happen overnight. While visiting the Challenger assembly line, we were able to see firsthand how many individual components (from a global array of providers) come into play in the making of any aircraft.
Nuts and bolts, flaps and wings, cabin and commands, on-board electronics, furniture, engines and landing gear, everything requires its own army of specialists, who need to be able to literally “plug into” the others so that the aircraft can become one whole coherent creation. In processual terms, that also means the creation of some 28 interest-based communities-of-knowledge, each of which makes sure that “wherever you are, you have access to who knows what".
"Wherever you are." Not a bad tagline for an aircraft maker.
This text is part of a series written in the context of the Fifth edition of the Montreal-Barcelona Summer School on Management of Creativity, organized by Mosaic HEC Montréal and Universitat Barcelona, July 9 to 24, 2013.
Illustration by Studio 923a. Read all posts in the series at blog.fandco.ca/yulbcn.