Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Modern Parable...Or Fact ?

Something to think about...

A Japanese company (Toyota) and an American company (Ford 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 7 people steering and 2 people 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, 2 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 2 people 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 rowers. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses. The pension program was trimmed to 'equal the competition' and some of the resultant savings were channeled into morale-boosting programs and teamwork posters.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off one rower, halted development of a new canoe, sold all the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses.

The next year, try as he might, the lone designated rower was unable to even finish the race (having no paddles,) so he was laid off for unacceptable performance, all canoe equipment was sold 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, and collecting bonuses...


Now...let's get a fresh cup of coffee, my friend!


Cygnus MacLlyr said...

I tell ya what, Hermit...
We talked about this yesterday-- some folk will get it, and some won't. Those (of us) who have worked-- on 'rower' duty-- will be in the former group. Those who haven't... will leave us rowers scratching OUR heads!!!HA! (or would be 'ha' if it weren't so true...
GREAT post. Truly intuitive.
More soon


HermitJim said...

Hey I always say..."some will get it, and some never will!"

Hope I have the rowers on my team when the SHTF comes...

Thanks for stopping by.

Mayberry said...

You got a knack for finding stuff that perfectly illustrates what's wrong with this country! Good story.....

HermitJim said...

Hey Mayberry...thanks for the visit and for the comments. Sometimes the old adage of beating a dead horse seems to completely describe our PTB.

Wish we could get some folks in power that had a little common sense.

Lydia said...

Good morning Jim,

Great post and what an eye opener, right? The sad truth is that this happens through most of corporate America, not just the automobile industry. This is indeed why we are in the mess we're in and getting buried deeper as we speak.

Not really sure what the answer is at this point but something has to happen.


HermitJim said...

Hey Lydia...thanks for coming by. The truly sad thing is that it seems all our government can do is to throw money at a problem and expect that to fix the problem.

I'm afraid that the present course is on a downhill slide that may not be stoppable. Guess we will soon find out!

Thanks for the comments, my friend.

js said...

Ok Jim, yeah.. but I must remind you all:

Japan was fire bobmed after they lost the war.

Who set up the new infrastructure there? Why the Americans of course! And the guy who was single-handedly responsible for the Safety and Improvemen/Quality Assurance programme that made Japan what it is today? Was an American! I think he was in Agriculture before that and was sent to Japan to mobilize it.

Plus, what do you think SONY stands for? It's actually S.O.N.Y. standing for Standard Oil of New York.

So don't be fooled! The folks behind Japan are still Americans, you just don't hear about it. And they know what they are doing! (Well, prior to being Americans they were from the ruling classes back in Europe! And still are.)


js said...

Yes, it is disturbing... as it looks like the Americans are bumbling idiots. But that is not the case at all! so we laugh here, but most of us are unaware of what is really going on.

Why all the free trade agreements? Think now. Have more coffee folks.


HermitJim said...

Hey JS...hate to disagree with ya, but other than the Americans looking like bumbling idiots...I think we really look like we have some very poor management. But then that's the whole point to the story...

Thanks for the visit and the comments

Noki said...

This story is perfectly apt. I, to, have been Bangalored. I wonder how long it will be before I have a phone call asking me to come back. I'm not holding my breath.


HermitJim said...

Hey Ashley...thanks for stopping by. Maybe for you it might mean another trip overseas to train your replacement.

Time will tell...