Japanese Company crushes American Company in rowing event.

UPS Lifer

Well-Known Member
Someone sent me an email with this! I thought this might stir some discussion :w00t:

How true is this? Do you see applications of this methodology at UPS?

A Japanese company and an American company 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.

Afterwards, the American team became very discouraged and morally depressed. The American management decided to find the reason for the crushing defeat. A "Measurement Team", made up of senior management, was formed. They would investigate and recommended appropriate action.

They noted that the Japanese had eight people rowing and one person steering, while the Americans had one person rowing and eight people steering. The American management hired a consulting company. They paid them incredible amounts of money. They were advised that too many people were steering the boat and not enough people were rowing.

To prevent losing to the Japanese when the next race was held, 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 single person rowing the boat a greater incentive to work harder. It was called the "Rowing Team Quality First Program," complete with a conference, a meeting, a dinner and a free pen for the rower. "We can give the rower empowerment and enrichment through this quality program."

The next race was won by the Japanese with a margin of 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. They then gave a Team Performance Award (TPA) to the steering managers and distributed the money saved as bonuses to the senior executives.


Well-Known Member
Nice story. Alot of similarities with our company. I don`t think we would disove the team though. I figure they would shuffle around the steerers a few more times, lose a few more races, then give themselves bonuses.....

If only UPS would give REAL empowerment to their employees and compensation for a job done well. This includes all personnel involved in the day to day operations.