I hope you had a chance to read Building a Harley Faster in The New York Times Magazine. In addition to a shoutout for the IndustryWeek Best Plants Award -- which was called "the Oscars of manufacturing" -- the story tells at least part of the tale of what it takes to succeed as a U.S. manufacturer today: Valuing the plant-floor production staff can yield bottom-line dividends and a competitive edge.
Though the author gets the conclusion only partially correct, I'm hoping the article will cause at least a few manufacturing leaders to take another look at their plant-floor employee practices. They'd do well to explore our brief slide show, How IW Best Plants Winners engage employees, on the topic. Where the NYT author goes wrong is to say: "...for certain companies -- with strong brand associations, customizable product lines and world-class equipment and processes -- union workers can be not a cost but an asset."
The fact is: the plant-floor employee best practices described in the Harley article work for ANY manufacturer, whether union or non-union, as reading the stories of winning plants through the program's 24 years will show.
Or better yet: Join us in Milwaukee at the IW Best Plants Conference, May 5 to 7, and hear first-hand from the best of the best. I hope to see you there.
In the meantime, I invite you to follow me on Twitter.