The British ‘management’ disease

The British and the Japanese corporate offices for a large multi-national corporation decided to engage in a competitive boat race. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance.

On the big day they felt ready. The Japanese team won by a mile. Afterward, the British team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Corporate management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found, so a consulting firm was hired to investigate the problem and recommended corrective action.

The consultant’s findings: The Japanese team had eight people rowing and one person steering; the British team had one person rowing and eight people steering.

After a year of study and millions spent analysing the problem, the firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough were rowing on the British team.

So, as race day neared again the following year, the British team’s management structure was completely reorganised. The new structure: four steering managers, three area steering managers and a new performance review system for the person rowing the boat to provide work incentive.

The next year, the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the British office decided to outsource the boat race to India the following year, laid-off the rower for poor performance and gave the managers a bonus for discovering the problem.