The American Way

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

Afterward the American team became very discouraged and morally depressed. The American management team decided the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found.

A "Six Sigma Management Team" made up of senior executives was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was that the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

So American management hired a consulting company and paid them an incredible amount of money to propose a solution. They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

To prevent losing to the Japanese again the next year, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering managers, 3 area steering superintendents, and 1 assistant steering superintendent. They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing 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, both 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 distributed the money saved as bonuses to the senior executives.

Friday, May 19, 2006, 11:16:24 AM

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