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Archive for March 1st, 2013

HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTOR COMPANY REBEL SOULI was flipping channels on XM and landed on Deep Tracks listening to “See The Changes”, a song by Crosby, Stills & Nash about how surviving is difficult.

Speaking of music and with a twist of irony, just a few days after large sums of money were exchanged for the Kid Rock endorsement and music performance at the 110th  Anniversary celebration, Harley-Davidson management reversed a long standing music policy (John Dansby II, V.P. Manufacturing, memo HERE) for manufacturing workers stating they can only rock out to the sound of humming machinery on the plant floor.  Remove the headphones.  Remove the radios. That new sound you’re listening to is the sweet sound of manufacturing productivity.

Having worked several years in a manufacturing plant back in the day I could relate to both sides.  Does music on the plant floor lead to greater productivity and job satisfaction or does it cause distractions and kill creativity.  It’s the age old debate.

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It would seem the grand “Music Experiment” — the role that music played in the motor companies evolution — and provided relief to Harley-Davidson workers doing monotonous tasks were now the cause of lapses in concentration and those distractions would potentially effect product quality.  Even worse, there were music hazards lurking everywhere in the workplace with the potential for injuries and as a result there was no longer a role for music in the workplace at Harley-Davidson.

Clearly I don’t work there, but on the surface this action doesn’t seem to be about building the foundation to help release the innovative juices in workers and provide the best environment to do the best possible job.  To be candid, it smells like a short-sighted decision from an outcome driven employer flexing management muscle when they have the economic upper hand and demanding that 8 to 5 workers step-it-up to get things done quicker and better.

I would anticipate that the younger H-D workers in particular would meet this decision with a wall of criticism and demand that management not lead the workforce back to the last century by banning music.  Given that technology exists today to provide multiple streams of different music channels wirelessly to large numbers of headsets it seems to be a backward decision.

We were all once young too, with an answer for everything.   But, if I knew this plant job was my one and only go-round and not wanting to make a career mistake I’d likely display some patience on any demands because we often fall into something and do our best to get ahead, and know it’s hard to rearrange when things go sideways.

And that’s when you hear “See The Changes” on the radio.

I tuned into the sound of Stephen Stills… telling me he experienced the same thing… it gets harder as you get older, and farther away as you get closer.

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson

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