Quality, Rewards, and Management LO13755

Benjamin B. Compton (bcompton@geocities.com)
Wed, 28 May 1997 10:28:17 -0700

Here's a story that got passed around the office today. I thought it
funny enough -- and remarkably close to reality -- that those on the
list would find it enjoyable (and, perhaps, insightful).


Once upon time, an aerospace company in Maryland and a Japanese automobile
company decided to have a competitive boat race on the Potomac river. Both
teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance. On the
bigday they both felt as ready as they could be.

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 "Continuous Measurable Improvement"
team was set up to investigate the problem and to recommended appropriate
corrective action. Their conclusion:

The problem was that the Japanese team had eight people rowing and one
person steering, whereby the American team had one person rowing and eight
people steering. The American Company 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 Steering Manager and a new performance system
for the person rowing the boat to give him more incentive to work harder.
"We must give him empowerment and enrichment. That should accomplish our
Total Quality Management goals!!"

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the aerospace company laid off the rower for poor performance,
sold the paddles, canceled all capital investment for new equipment,
halted development of a new boat, gave a "High Performance" award to the
consulting firm, then distributed the money saved as bonuses to the senior


Ben Compton "Friends are the ornaments of life." E-Mail: bcompton@geocities.com Phone: (801) 222-6178 Fax: (801) 222-6993 Web: http://www.e-ad.com/ben/BEN.HTM

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