For BAE Systems (chalet 264), Le Bourget is naturally a show ground for its latest aeronautical technology, ranging from the Eurofighter Typhoon starring in the flying display to the head-up display systems in use by its pilots, or the "active inceptor system" tactile-feedback sidesticks that feature on Lockheed Martin F-35s, as well as a host of less visible systems.

But while technology for civil and military aircraft is the outward focus of the company, BAE Systems could also be associated with innovation in management - and its facility at Rochester airport in Kent, UK, is a hotbed of development in this very behind-the-scenes capability.

As a supplier of key components to programmes such as the F-35, the site falls under the domain of US subsidiary BAE Systems Inc and reports to the Electronic Systems business unit headed by Dan Gobel in Nashua, New Hampshire.

But lurking way under the skin - indeed, right down on the shop floor - is a management innovation known as the Shingo system. Mike Tierney, BAE Electronic Systems' operations and supply chain director, came to the company from General Motors, where his job was to introduce lean manufacturing and management tools to the world's biggest auto maker. But while GM achieved results, he says, lean evolution was management-led.

As an expert in lean concepts, Tierney knew there was a better way. The Shingo concept - named after Japanese management theorist Shigeo Shingo - strives to have all of a company's staff looking for ideas that make the firm "better tomorrow than it is today".

Shingo, born in 1909, was working in Tokyo after the Second World War on techniques to improve factory management, and got involved in the Japanese motor industry. A study he wrote of the Toyota production system was translated into English and ultimately influential in the USA.

Today, there is a Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence awarded annually by the Jon M Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University to companies that achieve "universally accepted principles of operational excellence, alignment of management systems, and the wise application of improvement techniques across the entire organisational enterprise".

Tierney and BAE Systems have been working towards Shingo status since 2010, and in January 2013 applied for accreditation to the standard.

Recognising the whole-company approach to excellence embodied in the Shingo process, Tierney likes to quote its basic premise: "Company culture is the sum of our behaviours, values and principles."

Source: Flight Daily News