Everyone is Curious About the Switch

So everyone is seeing the switch from Ducati North America to Suzuki Motor of America and asking “why?”, then immediately transitioning into asking about the differences. Well, let me say right up front, going from an Italian based company to a Japanese based company is a paradigm shift in culture for sure… but it is so much more than that. Years ago as I interviewed at one of the most prestigious14361307_10154135673679440_6976762984007970574_o brands (a brand I still LOVE) a co-worker told me “careful what you wish for”. For my church going friends, its like volunteering at the church and finding way more information about the business side of church than you thought existed – doesn’t change your opinion of God but maybe makes you feel a bit dirty about his creation. Working at Ducati is similar in that there is this magically alluring motorcycle, but behind it is this broken corporate structure. Back in 2013, it was broken enough for a guy like me to blossom, grow and succeed.

When I first got into Ducati North America, there was no internal training program. I got to build it from scratch. Since their internal structure had little to no oversight, I was able to take my existing budget, work my tail off with entrepreneurial pride and build a really great foundation based on the supreme technical data passed down from engine legend – Bruce Meyer. The sites I created online to assist my program saved the company hundreds of administrative man-hours and allowed me to double the training certification output while maintaining a lower budget. For the 2015 Model Year, a change in management direction altered the flow of independent thought, and waning sales numbers compared to projections cut budgets. The promise of growing a training team and program vaporized.

Just when Manana No Mas! is poised to explode and go completely independent, Suzuki Motor of America calls. As I talk to them I discover there is a full Training and Publications Department. There is a team. We work out the details and I move the family 500 miles south.

Just walking in the first day knocked me in the chest with culture shock. While the small corporate office of Ducati North America is full of nooks and crannies, with active conversation about (you really could waste an entire day there on small talk), Suzuki Motor of America is a vast open floorplan with hundreds of employees, head down, working.

Three weeks into a month’s transition from the former department head and I have this to say. The two companies could not be more polar-ly opposite. Yeah I may have made that word up?

Where I lacked direction and oversight, and had to depend on entrepreneur spirit to succeed at the Italian Brand, structure, accountability, and oversight are built into the Japanese Brand. Budgeting, spending and planning all fall into a process. Everyone in the organization while at time begrudging the process – follows the process. The process is written, so following it is easier than you might think. Now here’s an interesting tidbit I have recently discovered. A self-driven leader with entrepreneurial spirit can very much succeed within these confines.

Not only was I given a fantastically talented, diverse team to work with… a reasonable superior… humane working schedule and time to adjust to the new digs. I was given the chance to create. What now?!?!