How Harley-Davidson Turned It All Around (And You Can Too)
At the end of WWII American soldiers returned home with a new, rougher identify. Having faced the horrors of war they earned their tough exterior. Harley-Davidson stepped up to provide a machine that appealed to this rebel style.
Forty years later as Japan began to outperform them in motorcycle sales the American icon faced imminent bankruptcy. The 1980s were a difficult time for the company; the 90s didn’t look much more promising.
So how did Harley-Davidson get back on track once again be a top competitor in motorcycle sales in the 21st Century? The answer may surprise you.
As Tony Robbins shared, the company’s top executives got together and discussed the reason the company existed at all. It wasn’t to sell motorcycles. Japan already had a strong corner on the market. What they realized is they sold an image, something that appealed to people at a deep level. The question was how to make that image profitable once again.
What helped turn things around was not a new bike design, it was clothing. Clothing that helped to connect to a legacy and in turn sell more bikes. They found that clothing appealed to both sexes, and the new styles helped to make the company profitable once again.
So how does a motorcycle company become one of the most popular clothing designers? The answer is innovation.
Innovation is defined as the “introduction of new things or new methods.”
Consider the 1980s. Boom boxes were all the rage. People bought speakers based on how big they were, some standing several feet high. In short, when it came to electronics bigger was better. It became a fashion statement to carry a large radio.
That is, until Sony asked a new question. Sony figured that if people liked to carry radios that had cassette decks in them, then why not make something far more portable. Thus was born the Sony Walkman. While everyone else was thinking bigger, one company went in the opposite direction and crushed the competition.
Which brings us back to goals and dreams. Remember, movement is not progress. Many people are ‘busy’ but don’t accomplish much. Don’t do what everyone else does, do what works. In fact, find a better way. Model those who have accomplished the goal you are after, then see what you can improve on.
Whether for your business, your health, your relationships or anything else; be creative, be resourceful, and most importantly, ask the questions no one else is asking. It is only in asking a better question that you will get a better answer. So don’t be afraid to innovate.
As Steve Jobs said at the commencement speech for Stanford University, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”