Crew Business — A Shaggy Tale of Commerce

This was posted by Greenecat on alt.callahans. The author is unknown.

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri 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 “Measurement 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 enrichments 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.

Chris Cole added:


After spending many years in both private and government bureaucracies, I can appreciate their plight….canoe? I’m sure you can!

In another nautical vein, I wonder if new warships will soon need to be equipped with anti-radiation shielding (you know, the usual heavy-but-malleable metal ones) on their prows. Such an item would surely put such a ship in the front of any arms race. If two lines of sailors were fighting over the honor of affixing a huge, tied ribbon to the winning ship’s prow, would that amount to a row row over the bow bow for the lead lead?

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