It Couldn't Happen Here (or could it?)

(A bit dated, but still describes a fairly universal syndrome.)

Once upon a time, a British company and the Japanese decided to have a competitive boat race on the River Thames. The Japanese won by a mile. The British firm became very discouraged by the loss and morale sagged. Senior management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found and a project team was set up to investigate the problem and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion: The Japanese team had eight people rowing and one person steering. The British team had one person rowing and eight people steering.

Senior management immediately hired a consultancy company to do a study of the British team's structure. Millions of pounds and several months later they concluded that: Too many people were steering and not enough rowing.

To prevent losing to the Japanese next year, the team structure was changed to four 'Steering Managers', three 'Senior Steering Managers', and one 'Executive Steering Manager'. A performance and appraisal system was set up to give the person rowing the boat more incentive to work harder.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

The British company laid off the rower for poor performance, sold off all the oars, cancelled all capital investment for new equipment and halted development of a new boat. The money saved was distributed to senior management and the consultants given high performance awards.

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Mike Arnautov (23 December 2016)