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Big Business in America

A perfect example of corporate America... Does this sound familiar?

The Americans and the Japanese decided to engage in a competitive boat race. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance. On the big day they felt ready. The Japanese won by a mile. Afterward, the American team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged.

Corporate management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found, so a consulting firm was hired to investigate the problem and recommended corrective action. The consultant’s finding: The Japanese team had eight people rowing and one person steering; the American team had one person rowing and eight people steering.

After a year of study and millions spent analyzing the problem, the consultant firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough were rowing on the American team.

So as race day neared the following year, the American team’s management structure was completely reorganized. The new structure: Four steering managers, three area steering managers and a new performance review system for the person rowing the boat to provide work incentive.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the American Corporation laid off the rower for poor performance and gave the managers a bonus for discovering the problem.

Got this by mail today. How appropriate! Saddest thing is that this is not just a joke, but something that has been repeating over and over in Corporate America.

So, does this sound familiar? My bet is that it sounds familiar to the Japanese. Because American Company is still probably searching for a communications consultant to draft a communication strategy.

  1. I heard another story from an American colleague. In the 60's when the space war was raging, Americans spent a million dollars to invent a pen that is usable in space. They finally invented the "space pen", a pen with pressurised ink.

    I've seen these pens. Still available as a souvenir for $16. These are short and cased in stainless steel.

    Well, during the first Appollo-Soyuz joint mission, Astronauts proudly showed off their space pen to Cosmonauts and asked what the Russians used.

    Russians said: "A pencil".

    I think the moral of the story is that in US, people still operate with the assumption that money is there to be spent :-)

    Posted by: Babu on March 24, 2003 09:05 AM
  2. I knew someone once who took a sick day on a Friday. At the end of his sick day, he learned that he had been laid off from his job. Did they call him? No. Did a coworker tell him? No. He watched CNN.

    Posted by: Ken Kinder on March 25, 2003 10:08 AM