A Modern Parable

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race.

Both teams practiced - 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  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.
click to view larger
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 and a certificate of completion 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 (a reduction in workforce) for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled 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... 
...... the End.

However, sad, but oh so true! Here's something else to think about: Fiscal 2006 results:
  • Toyota makes $11 billion in profits while
  • Ford racked up $12.6 billion in losses. 


    Ford folks are still scratching their heads.

    (2010 update Ford net income $ 6 billion, Toyota net income $2.6 billion)


    Footnote 2007: Toyota beats GM in global vehicle production


    SOURCE: This story was first shown to me by a student in BUS106 at Seneca.
    This person had spent some time working at a Japanese auto dealership in Ontario.
    Variations of this story can be found on several websites, chatrooms and blogs - am not sure who the original author is but if someone knows, tell me so I can give credit where credit is due.
    The sources I used were found at see also the website of the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers  http://oica.net/
    see also WORLD MOTOR VEHICLE PRODUCTION - 2007  http://oica.net/wp-content/uploads/world-ranking-2007.pdf