Does this story sound too familiar?
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 94 16:20:42 PST
Subject: Does this story sound too familiar?
Forwarded-by: Tom Kuhn <email@example.com>
Once upon a time, two aerospace companies, one American and one
Japanese, decided to have a boat race on the Tennessee River.
Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak
performance. On the big day, they both felt as ready as they
The Japanese won by a mile.
Afterwards, the American team became very discouraged by the
loss, and morale sagged. Corporate management decided that the
reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. A Corporate
Steering Committee was set up to investigate the problem and to
recommend appropriate corrective action. Their conclusion:
The problem was that the Japanese had eight people rowing
and one person steering; whereas, the American team had one
person rowing and eight people steering.
The American Corporate Steering Committee immediately hired a
consulting firm to do a study on the management structure. After
some time and millions of dollars, the consulting firm concluded
that too many people were steering and not enough rowing.
To prevent losing to the Japanese again next year, the team's
management structure was totally reorganized to four Steering
Managers, three Area Steering Managers, one Staff Steer Manager,
and a new performance system for the person rowing the boat to
encourage him/her to row harder.
The next year the Japanese won by two miles.
Humiliated, the American corporation laid off the rower for poor
performance, sold all the paddles, canceled all capital
investments for new equipment, halted development of a new
canoe, gave a High-Performance Award to the consulting firm,
and distributed the money saved as bonuses to the senior
© 1994 Peter Langston