A Japanese and an American company decided to have a rowing race. Both teams practised ahead of the main event, but the Japanese won by a mile. The Americans appointed a management team to investigate the defeat and make appropriate recommendations.
They identified that the Japanese had eight people rowing and one steering, whereas the Americans had one person rowing and eight steering. The Americans hired an expensive consultant for a second opinion. The consultant advised that too many people were steering and not enough people were rowing.
To prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team was reorganised to provide four senior executives, three steering managers and one assistant steering manager. They also implemented a performance system which would offer the rower greater incentives to work harder. It was called the “Rowing Team Quality First Program” and consisted of dinners, seminars and free pens for the rower. There was also some discussion about getting new paddles and other equipment, extra holidays in lieu of practice and performance bonuses.
The next year, the Japanese won by two miles. The Americans were humiliated and laid off the rower, halted canoe redevelopment, sold the new paddles and cancelled all capital investment. The money saved was distributed to the senior executives as bonuses.
Next year’s racing team has been outsourced to the Philippines.