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
performance before the race.
On the big day the Japanese won by a mile.
Afterwards, the American team became very discouraged and morally depressed.
The American management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had
to be found. A "Measurement Team", made up of senior management was formed.
They would investigate and recommend appropriate action.
Their conclusion was that the Japanese had 8 people rowing and I person
steering, while the Americans had 1 person rowing and 8 people steering.
So American Management hired a consulting company and paid them incredible
amounts of money. They advised that too many people were steering the boat
and not enough were rowing.
To prevent losing to the Japanese again next year, the rowing management
structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 4 steering
superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager. They also
implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the
canoe greater incentive to work harder.
It was called the "Rowing Team Quality First Program", with meetings,
dinners, and free pens for the rower. "We must give the rower empowerment
and enrichments through this quality program."
The next year the Japanese won by 2 miles. Humiliated, the American
Management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted the development of
a new canoe, sold the paddles, and cancelled all capital investments for new
equipment. Then gave a High Performance Award to the Steering Managers and
distributed the money saved as bonuses to the senior executives.