A Modern Parable:

A Japanese company ( Toyota ) and an American company (General Motors) 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.
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 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 force) 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 ..
Sadly, the End.
However, sad, but oh so true! 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 result:
Toyota makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses. Ford folks are still scratching their heads.


4 responses to “A Modern Parable:

  1. Interesting. You’d think that someone in charge might have figured this out before, but apparently upper management is too much in love with their perks and bonuses to change anything.

  2. as long as they can find someone else to blame it on, it’ll never change…

  3. dragonlady474

    The Japanese culture is much different than ours, they see a loss as a loss for all of them. They’re more focused on the group (workers, execs, all) than in individual gain. Therefore a gain is a gain for all of them.
    Americans are all about individuality, and what’s in it for me?? I’m not saying that individuality is not a good thing in other instances, it’s just not so good when applied to a factory setting. They need a more team-like structure and a sense of “we’re all in this together” from management to the janitors.

  4. So sad but true. It isn’t even a new problem, while I hate to slam on my fellow baby boomers, when they pass…so will this craziness.

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