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Dear Mr. Wine
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Rainmans 09
Posted 2017-02-19 11:35 AM (#191507)
Subject: Dear Mr. Wine


Puddle Jumper

Posts: 43
Mr. Wine, I know it?s easy to throw peanuts from the cheap seats and provide commentary even though I have no insight from the internal facets of the company. Given that, I?d like you to respectfully consider my observations and comments, as I believe it?s not far from the majority of Victory owners.

I have stood on the sidelines, observed, and remained silent after you made your regrettable public announcement on January 9, 2017 to begin winding down the Victory Motorcycles brand and related operations. Being an advocate, strong supporter, and owner of three Victory motorcycles (Vision, Vegas, and Hammer) I felt the time was ripe to provide my observations, opinions, and perspectives.

A little background; I began my career as an engineer and moved on to public administration because of my interests in technology, strategy, and policy. I have worked at the highest levels in high technology fields in the federal government and industry. So, I?m familiar of what both of sides can accomplish if they are allowed to work together without one having one of their arms tied behind their backs.

You have been the Chief Executive Officer of Polaris Industries Inc. since September 1, 2008 (stock was over 23 points) and its Chairman since January 31, 2013 (stock over 88 points). The question arises, after being in this position for such an extended time, are you still effective (stock has dropped over 60 points)? It?s rarely the lack of intellect or vision; the most unsuccessful CEO?s stumble because of one simple, fatal shortcoming: execution. It should be important to the Board of Directors and also the investors, customers, suppliers, partners, employees?who suffer when the person at the top stumbles.

The pundits will opine, as they usually do, that you have a grand-scale vision and strategy (for example: cancelling Victory and investing in Indian and Slingshot). However, it appears that you have forgotten your purpose and are beginning to think that process itself is what matters. By becoming committed to the organizational model, the middle managers will resort to informal networks to get things done. As a result, cliques will form, indecisiveness takes over, and the fast-moving competitor grabs the advantage.

You have been at Polaris for over 8 years, which is long time for a CEO. For someone who has been at a company for an extended period, especially one that has been successful, decision gridlock takes place. The processes have worked, they?re part of the company?s day-to-day life and it take courage to blow them up. I surmise the committee and policy group meetings have become a little more than time consuming formalities. The outcomes are almost never in doubt; there is a dearth of discussion, and almost never anything amounting to lively consideration, it is a system that results in lengthy delays and faulty decisions that paralyze the people in operations -- i.e., long slow demise of the Victory product line in which a lot of owners of the product noticed even though they didn?t have the insight to the company. An effective CEO will use the process to drive decisions not delay them and you always put people first and strategy second.

From my perspective, the problem is not your intellect or the ability to identify the key problems or objectives of the company; it?s plausible strategy and the lack of execution. Perhaps you?re afraid of being too controlling ? a drive to be competitive (in the operational sense) all the time ? getting a charge out of pushing, pushing, pushing to make it happen. However, to be successful you need to have a strong external focus and get stimulated by details of what?s happening in your market (others may find it boring) getting loads of data from diverse sources (do not perform spreadsheet management). You don?t do what you want to do; you do what must be done. Perhaps this is how the decision was made for the demise of the Victory product line but it wasn?t very well communicated.

Here?s another thought for consideration, what about Bennett J. Morgan, President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) and his role? The COO is usually the second in command and is responsible for day-to-day operation of the company (may have been a contributor for the poor marketing). However, it doesn?t get the CEO off the hook for the performance of the company. It would be interesting to know the behind the scenes relationship -- these partnerships depend on a rare chemistry that?s difficult to predict and the stakes are high. If it?s not working, the resulting troubles can be worse than most which then the CEO must terminate the COO (which is often the problem).

Based the lack luster market performance of the company over the 18 months, your employment could be in jeopardy if you?re not focusing on mastering the execution/implementation. For example, Southwest Airlines has made money every year for the past 24 years and it?s because of their execution/implementation efforts.

Strategy is important and a clear strategy is necessary for success, however, it?s not sufficient for survival. The fascination with strategy and vision feeds the mistaken belief that developing exactly the right strategy will enable the company to soar past the competitors. If you don?t execute these strategies, you fail.

Mr. Wine I don?t doubt that you?re a smart individual and you worry about a lot of things. Conversely, from my perspective, you?re not worrying enough about the right things: execution, decisiveness, follow-through, and delivering on commitments.

Respectfully,

Proud Victory Owner
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