Richard Teerlink, Former Chairman of Harley-Davidson, taught us that we need to embrace change if we are to be successful. He opened with a quote from Eric Hoffer:

“In the times of change the learners will inherit the earth while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world than no longer exists.”

In this context he rode through the history of Harley-Davidson up to the 1981 and then talked about the changes they made from ‘81 to ‘85 that brought the company in to profitability again. He presented the case that people are the only sustainable competitive advantage a company can have. Below area few quotes that stood out in my mind on various topics:

Culture: “Culture begins with employee engagement in and understanding of the values, direction and purpose of the organization”

Change: “Change is continuous and accelerating.. If you don’t like it, tough.”

Communication: “It’s not the words you write the words you say, it’s what you do.”

Organization chart: “The right people getting together at the right time to do the right thing right.”

Harley-Davidson Mission Statement: “We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling…”

At the close of his presentation,a conference attendee asked Richard if he has a Harley tattoo… He responded, “My Harley tattoo in on my heart and soul.”

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