Thursday, June 07, 2007

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 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 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.

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.


jimfrac said...

A Modern Day Parable cont.

Well, it was time again for the annual canoe race between the America car
company and the Japanese car company. For years, the Japanese team had been
winning the race hands down, but the Americans closed the gap every year.
“This year...” the Americans thought, “...this is our year.”

People who knew a thing or two about canoes all agreed that the Americans
had finally brought a canoe to the race that was of comparable quality to
the Japanese craft. Now if they could just get it in the water and off to a
good start faster than the competition. They each grabbed a side of the
canoe and a paddle and marched towards the river.

Arriving at the river’s edge, they noticed something unusual about their
rival’s team. The Japanese had new uniforms, new paddles, and even a huge
canoe trailer. They didn’t even have to carry their canoe to the river!
Worse yet, all their fancy gear was boldly emblazoned with the words
“Courtesy of the Government of Japan.” This is an unfair advantage thought
the Americans. No government agency is helping us – in fact, for some
reason, our government seems to be trying to hurt our chances of winning
this thing.

The Americans decided not to complain about the obvious cheating, and put
their canoe in the water anyway.

A shot rang out and the race began with both teams paddling furiously. It
was neck and neck through the first half of the race. The Americans were
sweating and straining, mustering all their strength and experience to keep
up with the fit, efficient, and harmonious rowing of the Japanese team. And
indeed they were keeping up! Against all the odds, they could compete in
this race after all!

Over the years, they had gotten complacent. The team had definitely enjoyed
a few too many cheeseburgers and not enough exercise. They were working on
it though - and they held fast to the hope that this would be the year they
could at least tie the Japanese. “Keep paddling,” they thought, “just keep

But little did the Americans know they had one more obstacle to overcome.
One very imposing obstacle.

This race was in America, on an American river, and the shores were lined on
both sides with American canoeing fans. Yet, much to the chagrin of the
American team, it soon became obvious that the crowd was cheering louder for
the Japanese team. What heartbreak! Why?? We’re your neighbors and your
countrymen. Our kids go to the same schools as yours, our paychecks support
the same police and fire department as yours. We cheer for the same sports
teams and eat at the same restaurants. When one of you is in peril, it’s us
who rush to your aid! Why have you forsaken us? If you don’t help us win
this race, we will eventually all lose.

Their spirit broken, the American team barely lost to the Japanese, but
vowed to come back even stronger next year.

The American car companies employ 395,000 Americans, or 87% of the domestic
automotive workforce. True, the American car companies take too much of their profits and give it to overpaid executives, but they also plow a
lot of it back into our art museums, symphonies, community groups, civic and charitable organizations, and yep, taxes. Toyota’s corporate profits go straight back to Japan, where the Japanese people have a better understanding of what's truly at stake in this canoe race. Still think your Toyota is an American car?

Root for the home team.