A Modern Parable

A Japanese company (Toyota) and an American company (General Motors) 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.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was the Japanese had eight people rowing and one person steering, while the American team had eight people steering and one person rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to four steering supervisors, three area steering superintendents and one assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the one 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. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management 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 and the next year's racing team was outsourced to India.

The End



sage said...

Great parable! did you write it?

Diane said...

I love it!

Jolynn said...

Oh my gosh! I work for that company.

Karen said...

sage~ nope, but i've *lived* it!

diane~ me too!

jolynn~ you too, oh no!

Jack K. said...

And the most senior exec got fired and a multi-million dollar golden parachute.

Go figure.

Karen said...

jack~ amen!

Becky68 said...

That is great, I've lived it, heck, I'm living it right now at my current job! Very well put.

BlueKat said...

Excellent post! In my previous position, we barely had any time to actually accomplish work for meeting with managers. Not one of which actually contributed anything to the effort, except to make excuses and beg more time for the project to be completed from the customer.

Jack K. said...

Perhaps a daily visit to Dilbert's comic strip will help keep things in perspective.

Or, one could visit the Dilbert blog for more information.

Karen said...

becky68 & bluekat~ welcome and thx for stoppin' by!

jack~ Dilbert it is! {grin}

Carmi said...

This is funny precisely because it could very likely be true.

On a somewhat more serious note, the New York Times ran a story a few weeks ago about why Toyota is about to become the world's largest automobile manufacturer. In many respects, the North Americans handed the market over to their more agile and intelligent overseas competitors.

Karen said...

carmi~ yes, it is both funny and serious.