A Modern Business Parable

A Modern Business Parable
Posted by: Ben Drury on: February 16, 2009

In: Miscellaneous guest posts. Comment!
A Japanese company (Toyota) and an American company (Ford) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River. Both teams practised long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing.

Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, 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. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes, and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and cancelled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year’s racing team was out-sourced to India .

Sadly, The End.

Here’s something else to think about:

Ford has spent the last thirty years moving all its factories out of the US , claiming they can’t make money paying American wages. TOYOTA has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US .

The last quarter’s results: TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses; Ford folks are still scratching their heads.

IF THIS WEREN’T TRUE, IT MIGHT BE FUNNY.

(As far as I can gather, the author of this piece is unknown. I received it by email! If you can shed any light on the actual origins then please let me know so I can credit the writer!)

http://csccom.wordpress.com/200

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