A Modern Parable

goodsamaritan.gifA 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 & 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 include:
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, free pens and a certificate of completion 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 (a reduction in workforce) 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.

However, sad, but oh so true!

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 result:
Toyota makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in

Ford folks are still scratching their heads.

One thought on “A Modern Parable”

  1. 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.

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