IT’S NO LONGER THE UGLY
BUT THE DUMB AMERICAN
People in foreign nations have for many
years called us “ugly Americans,” because they did not like America and
her people. The late night shows picked up on the theme and joke after
joke was produced about the ugly American. But that is all in the past as
we now have to admit that we are pretty dumb. As you read the following
story, laugh or get angry over this satire. When are we going to wake up?
A SAD STORY
A Japanese company (Toyota) and an
American company (Ford) 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 that 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; they hired a consulting
company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. The
consulting firm of course advised 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 paddles, and canceled all capital
investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the
senior executives as bonuses. 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.