Harley- Davidson Company

Harley- Davidson Company

Motor Harley-Davidson Company is the name of the company I have chosen to analyze. It is a public company founded in the year 1903. Harley Davidson is a manufacturing company that deals with heavyweight motorcycles and a line of motorcycles parts, accessories, general merchandise and services related to such kind of products.

Since the year 2009, the company had been experiencing changes that may be described as revolutionary. Revolutionary changes are those changes that come with the senior leadership and must be implemented.  In Harley –Davidson Company, the management dictated the changes that could salvage the company’s future (Girdler and Hackett, 2000). Although some of the employees agreed to the changes, there were mixed reactions due to the impact, the changes had on the workers affair. Some of the main changes included reduction of the number of employees through slashing the 62-job description to only five hence reducing the number of permanent salaried employees by half. Then, the company embarked on hiring casual employees with no medical and retirement benefits, and reduced hourly rate. These changes were aimed at reducing the cost of production. The other major change was demolishing of the old manufacturing firm and building of a smaller firm that embraced advanced manufacturing methods through the use of the robotic smart card, and conveyer belts to enhance efficiency. Moreover, to further reduce the costs, the company outsourced some of the activities such as assembly and painting.

Unfreezing is the first step used to prepare the employees for the changes. It entails moving them to a point of comprehending that the changes are essential to the company, and thus preparing them to move away from the comfort zone. It also entails assessing various factors for and against making changes.  In Harley-Davidson firms, the management sensitized the employees on the benefits the firm will accrue on making the changes to enhance its sustainability in future. The assessment of the company change was positive since it was to adopt Toyota and Caterpillar advanced manufacturing methods, which are proven for their efficiency. Also, although there was resistance to changes, the majority of the employees were in consensus due to job loss that was experienced in the past and uncertain future of the company due to competition.

The forces for change in the Harley-Davidson company came from inside and outside the firm.  The outside forces that necessitated for change included technological evolution and competitive dynamics. The company had been using the old technology and manual way of assembling the motorcycles, which was ineffective, slow and costly, and time-consuming. Due to the competition the company was facing from rivals, it had to change to adapt to the new technology so as to reduce the cost of production and sell the bike at competitive prices. The inside forces entailed the need for restructuring, global growth and more advanced and efficient manufacturing method. This was because the firm was enduring lagging consumer confidence, increased unemployment, and home value reduction.

The organizational changes have been successful. The new firm with advanced technology in York firm exhibits this. Also, the company had successfully lain off many workers and employed some casuals in some various manufacturing points. Moreover, the company has successfully outsourced some of its operations. All these changes have enabled the company to minimize its cost of production and compete effectively. Furthermore, it has been able to produce different types of motorcycle simultaneously at a short period. However, the company experienced some resistance during the change process that emanated from some employees. This was because many of the workers were to be fired and some re-employed on a casual basis, which had reduced benefits. Also, the retained employees were to face extensive training that was received negatively.

Organization development is essential during the change process in the organization. There are various OD techniques that were employed by the company; they included skill training, product and service quality programs, job redesign and team building. These techniques were utilized during the adaptation of Just –in- Time inventory and involvement of employees in decision-making. This enhanced the output through reduction of unnecessary tasks such as duplicated entry of data. The most successful technique was team building and skill training. Through these techniques, the company was able to train the workers to adapt and implement the new changes. Moreover, during the refreezing stage, the employees are subjected to vigorous training to enhance acceptability of new norm and become comfortable with the routines.

 

References

Girdler, A & Hackett, F. (2000). Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. Osceola; MotorBooks International.

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