One explanation of Japanese Industrial Success

Once upon a time an American Automobile Company and the Japanese decided to have a competitive boat race on the Detroit River. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance. On the big day, when they both felt as ready as they could be .......

The Japanese won by a mile!!

Afterwards, the American team became very discouraged by the loss and morale sagged. Corporate Management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had been found. A continuous "measurable improvement team" was set up to investigate the problem and to recommend appropriate corrective action. Their conclusion:

The problem was that the Japanese team had eight people rowing and one person steering, while the American team had one person rowing and eight people steering. The American Corporation Steering Committee immediately hired a consulting firm to do a study on the management structure. After some time and millions of dollars, the consulting firm concluded that, "Too many people were steering and not enough people were rowing."

To prevent losing to the Japanese again the next year, the teams management structure was totally reorganized to four steering managers, one staff steering manager, three area steering managers, and a new performance system for the person rowing the boat to give more incentive to work harder. "We must give him empowerment and enrichment. That ought to do it."

The next year the Japanese won by two miles!!!

Humiliated, the American Corporation laid off the rower for poor performance, sold all the paddles, cancelled all capital investments for new equipment, halted development of a new canoe, gave a "High Performance Award" to the consulting firm, and distributed the money saved as bonuses to the senior executives.