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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A Modern Parable.

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 paddes,
and canceled all capital investments for new equipment.
The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as

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

TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9
billion in losses.

Ford folks are still scratching their heads, and
collecting bonuses...


1,566 Posts
texan4life - That canard was old more than 30 years ago, when it was first told, and IBM was the butt of the story.

Oh, by the way, whose quality is the equal of Toyota's?

Gee, how could I have forgotten?


Ford, Toyota, and Honda are in statistical dead heats for quality.

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