Counting on management to steer you in the right direction?
When all the oars don't row in the same direction...
A Japanese company and an American company
decided to have a canoe race on the Mississippi 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. 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
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 1 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 people were rowing. To prevent losing to the Japanese again next year, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 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. “We must give the rower empowerment and enrichment 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 development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. Then they gave a High Performance Award to the steering managers and distributed the money saved as bonuses to the senior executives.