Monday, February 27, 2006

The Canoe Race

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race on
the Missouri River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak
performance before the race. On the big day the Japanese won by a mile.
Afterward, the American team was very discouraged and depressed.
The American company decided the reason for their crushing defeat had to be
found. A Management Team made up of senior executives was formed to
investigate and recommend appropriate action. They discovered that the
Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team
had 8 people steering and one person rowing. The American Management Team
hired a consulting firm to assist in analyzing this data, happily paying
their considerable fee. After six months of hard work, the consulting firm
concluded that too many people were steering the Americans' boat, while not
enough people were rowing.
So the American Team acted: To prevent losing to the Japanese again the
following year, the team's management structure was totally reorganized, to
include 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1
assistant superintendent steering manager. They also implemented a new
performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater
incentive to work harder. It was called the Rowing Team Quality First
Program, with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. In an all-out
attempt to further provide empowerment and enrichment's to the rower, new
paddles and medical benefit incentives were promised in exchange for a
victory in the next competition.
The next year the Japanese won by two miles.
Humiliated, the American Management Team laid off the rower for poor
performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles and
canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was
distributed to the senior executives as bonuses for a job well done.

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