The success of Harley Davidson (HD) is due to the American motorcycle icon’s effective Strategic Management. HD’s vision, mission, goals and objectives strive to exceed the requirements of its main stakeholders. Although these needs are not always met, the company has unique relationships with is stakeholders. The company stays on course with its strategic plan, despite the economy and the decline of American manufacturing and what might be considered its dwindling U. S. consumer base. Stakeholders “represent very important constituencies or groups of individuals who are part of an organization or associated with an organization.” (Module 01, 2013)HD’s main stakeholders are its employees, customers and shareholders. Each stakeholder has its own motives for being involved with the organization. Normally these motives result in common goals and objectives.
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An organization’s “mission is the overachieving goal of a company, the reason why it operates. ” (Module 01, 2013). Harley Davidson’s mission statement is “We ride with our customers and apply this deep connection in every market we serve to create superior value for all of our stakeholders” (Harley Davidson, 2012. p. 2). This mission statement places the needs of stakeholder foremost in the company’s strategic plan.
A company’s vision should “set up the long term direction of the company (vision), they incorporate the goals of the main stakeholders (shareholders, customers, suppliers, employees), they express the main values of the management to be embraced by employees, and they describe the main goals” (Module 01, 2013). Harley Davidson’s vision is “We fulfill dreams inspired by the many roads of the world by providing remarkable motorcycles and extraordinary customer experiences.
We fuel the passion for freedom in our customers to express their own individuality” (Harley Davidson, 2012, p. 2). Harley’s vision does state a continuing corporate path; however it is on quite romanticized. A look at the company’s goals and objectives is needed to complete a picture of the organizations vision.
Goals and Objectives
“Goals and objectives divide the vision into achievable units at department levels for instance, that are further subdivided into smaller and smaller units, until they reach every employee’s desk. ” (Module 01, 2013) Harley Davidson’s has identified four major goals in its Annual Statements.
These goals include obtaining flexible manufacturing, creating shorter product development times; developing a premium customer experience and fulfilling dreams (Harley Davidson, 2012, p. 4). Goals should meet the SMARTER principle. That is that “Goals should be designed and worded as much as possible to be specific, measurable, acceptable to those working to achieve the goals, realistic, timely, extending the capabilities of those working to achieve the goals, and rewarding to them, as well“ (McNamara, 2011). We will evaluate each goal to measure whether it meets this criterion and the needs of the main stakeholders.
Manufacturing. One of HD’s goals is to create flexible manufacturing within its multiple facilities. In the past Harley on produced one bike per plant. If the public demand changed in that area Harley may have been left with a large supply and no demand. Harley’s objective is to enable its plants to be able to produce the right motorcycle for the needed demand in that area. The company’s tactics include incorporating the success of its York plant into all of its plant globally. In 2011, the York plant was outfitted to produce both the Tri Glide and All Touring Softail motorcycles (HARLEY Davidson, 2011, p 4).
This will allow the company to move product to the correct customer at the correct time. Employees of Harley are encouraged to provide input and incorporate changes to improve products as well the production process. The goal of flexible manufacturing meets the entire criterion for the SMARTER principle. Both employees and customers benefit if this goal is realized. Product development. Harley’s goal to reduce product development times include three main facets: “1) a laser focus on the best product opportunities; 2) reduced time-to-market; and 3) increased product development capacity through efficiencies” (Harley Davidson, 2011, p.
4). This goal does not meet the full criterion of the SMARTER principle. The goal is not specific. It does not quantify how much it wants to decrease the timeliness of product development. Employees benefit from this goal. The main benefit is that because HD believes in employees participating in the product development process it has created a learner centric environment. Employees stay well versed in their fields while assisting the company in developing quality products in shorter periods of time. This benefits the customers by providing quality products that keep up with advances in technologies and consumer desires.
Retail. “The goal of this transformation at retail is quite simple: to provide a premium retail experience with every customer, every day and everywhere, while strengthening dealer profitability” (Harley Davidson, 2011, p. 5). Harley Davidson plans to work with all of its stakeholders to ensure that all of its many faces culminate in a great customer experience. This includes an in store and online experience. The SMARTER principle is also not completely met with this goal. The goal is not completely measurable. It is beneficial to all stakeholders.
The strengthening of retail keeps employees employed and the improved customers can make customers feel more valued and more likely to seek out the retail experience. Dream fulfillment. “At the core, these three transformations—in manufacturing, product development and at retail—come down to one thing: we must ensure, in a world of ever-increasing customer expectations, Harley-Davidson continues to fulfill dreams through remarkable motorcycles and extraordinary customer experiences far into the future” (Harley Davidson, 2011, p. 5). All of HD’s improvements end here.
The improvement require all stake holder to work together to make the customer experience unique. The improvements, if effective will add to the Harley Davidson ethos.
My recommendation to Harley executives is to remember to stay true to the brand, but to attempt to market products to find new consumer within the US. Since HD’s inception, Harley has been associated with the freedom of America, but it may be losing it American consumer while changing to a global market. “Harley-Davidson demographics has long shown its reliance on an overwhelmingly white, male and middle-aged consumer base would ultimately challenge sales in North America, where it still earns two-thirds of its revenue” (Kelleher, 2013).
The goal that I propose is to include marketing to a younger group with a disposable income. I have been introduced to Harley; in fact, I learned to ride on a Buell in a Harley Drivers Edge Safety Course. I an African American female and have never been in the Harley advertising demographic. Harley does have a female rider’s program but it’s not advertised. All of the commercials that I have seen for Harley actual talk about the experience and financing.
Although it is an American institution like a lot of older brands, it may lose it appeal a younger population. Increasing its consumer base can only be beneficial to its other stakeholders. It may potentially prevent manufacturing jobs from being transferred outside of the U. S. as Harley seeks consumers in other locations. Harley Davidson’s use of strategic management is in line with the needs of its main stakeholders. The company’s mission acknowledges the need to meet the demands of all stakeholders for a more effective organization.
Harley’s vision recognizes what HD brand means to the consumer. The organization’s goals and objectives seek to make the brand more effective in the current global market while satisfying the needs of its stakeholders. HD should be careful that it continues to gain new customers as it reliable customer base ages and are no longer able or willing to ride. Harley has continued to use strategic management to change the company’s fortunes over the years. As a result, the company has faltered but never truly failed.
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