Talk about the level of control that the workers have in their
Let me give you an example that I think fits what you just asked.
We started a second shift in our fabrication area and there's
not one management person on second shift. The employees rose
to the challenge. They created their own score cards, they created
their own internal measurements and now they've said, "Wait
a minute. We don't want any management people on second shift,"
so they've resisted any discussion we've even had about it.
They've really pushed back and said, "If you're really interested
in controlling cost then you measure us by our score cards and
we'll prove to you we don't need anybody."
gotta remember that the road really hasn't been paved but we're
doing it; we're building the road, and paving it and driving
on it all at the same time so like what Karl was saying, if
the indicators are doing things right even though it seems extremely
different -- that's what makes HPWO so great is that you have
the ability to have the employees to take this as their business,
to operate it to lower costs. If they're doing that correctly,
and if all the work's getting done on time, who knows what it's
supposed to look like? We're building it as we go.
What are some difficulties you face?
The difficulties I [face] right now is
that I would think that about 70, 75% of the work force out
there has never been in a union shop. So, they don't know exactly
a union's all about. Educating these people
-- on what [a] union's about, what this partnership's about,
what the company's all about -- is going to take some time.
What's your biggest challenge?
Well, to bring several new people into the Harley culture, and
to help them relieve themselves of the old baggage, and to get
acclimated to the new way of thinking. To understand what that
commitment means when they walk through those doors. It's not
just a fad--It's our culture. We're living it. We're breathing
it. Day in and day out.
How would you define that?
Simply put, what we're asking our employees to do, instead of
work, to do the day to day task to build a motorcycle, we're
asking them to run the factory. And that requires a tremendous
amount of educational training. And that's the biggest challenge
I believe that we have had, and we'll continue to have, is to
give our employees the experience and the background to enable
them to make decisions on how to run the business.
We have people that have quit higher paying jobs to come to
work for Harley-Davidson. Not just for the name, not just for
building a motorcycle, but for the idea of being able to run
the business. They've heard about it. They come in. They've
toured the plant, and they said, "Yes. This is a place that
I want to work. This is the atmosphere. This is the culture
I want to experience." And I think that's a tremendous success
story in itself.
Would it be easier sometimes to just go back to the old style?
To throw a bunch of supervisors out there, we would have an
immediate impact. [laughter] I'm not sure if it's negative or
positive, but there'd be an impact. There'd be a sense of immediate
control. But I know that that's not going to produce the results
long term that we need. We would destroy the long term culture
of this factory and the long term benefits.
It's been a blast. I don't look forward to going back to any
kind of other traditional shop. I will retire here, as an employee,
and I hope to heck this place stays an HPWO shop from here on
Monetarily, is it working as a business?
We had defined early in the construction of the factory, "What
did we have to achieve financially to call it a success?" We
are at least at that level, if not above that. As we mature
as a factory, I have no question that we'll surpass the goals.
There's no way the three of us can run this factory. It's got
to be run by the individual groups. And that's an important
perspective. We've established relationships with employees,
and got personal commitment from those employees. And that's
why you see employees doing things beyond what you normally
expect them to do. And I believe that's the key to the success
of this whole thing. And that'll be the key to our future.
I think manufacturing out here in the world is going to have
to go to something similar to what we're doing. It may not be
the same thing. It has a different twist to it, but uh when
we end up closing plants down and moving stuff to Mexico or
overseas, that doesn't only hurt the union side, it also hurts
the salary side, too, because there's not a plant there ain't
anybody going to be working. So, what Kansas City and Harley-Davidson
is doing, or as a company in a whole, I think you'll see this
take off all across the world.