Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Canoe Race

A Chinese corporation challenged its American competitor to a canoe race.  The challenge was simple:  Each company would form a canoe racing team and the teams would race 'three miles' down the Mississippi.  Without hesitation, the American firm accepted the challenge.

The American company assembled its canoe racing team which it titled the CRT.  The CRT practiced three hours every day.  When race day arrived, the Chinese team won by almost a mile.  Feeling sorry for its American competitor, the Chinese executives offered to host a rematch in one year. The American firm readily accepted the new  challenge.
Word spread quickly throughout the American company that their CRT loss the race and every American employee was stunned.  Worse yet, morale within the company began to sag.  Senior executives were adamant to determine why their CRT suffered such a crushing defeat.
A special committee, the Canoe Racing Fact Finding Committee or CRFFC was created and given two responsibilities:

    1) Determine the cause for the CRT's loss, and

    2) Recommend strategies for next year's CRT.

The CRFFC got right to work.  After an exhaustive investigation, it concluded the primary reason the CRT lost was because the Chinese team had seven people paddling and one person steering, whereas their CRT had only one person paddling and seven people trying to steer.
The CRFFC made the following recommendations:

First, The CRT needed to be restructured. The CRFFC suggested a position of 'Director of Canoeing' or DC be created.  The DC would be the sole person responsible for how the canoe was steered.  Since this was a such a critical position the CRFFC suggested the Director be assigned two deputy Directors called D/DC's; one D/DC would develop canoe steering procedures and the other D/DC would implement effective steering policies.

Second, to ensure every steering direction given by the DC was clearly understood, the CFFC recommended four Canoe Area Steering Managers or CASM's be hired.  The CASM's would sit in critical areas of the canoe and relay the DC's steering directions.

Third, the CRFFC recommended firing the current canoe paddler and hiring a new paddling team.  The new paddling team would be big, strong and possess great canoe skills.  The new Canoe Paddling Team would be called the CPT
Fourth, the CRFFC recommended a special compensation for the CPT.  The CRFFC believed the CPT should be compensated based on merit - meaning if  the CPT won the race, the CPT would receive a substantial bonus.  The CRFFC believed a bonus incentive would ensure the CPT paddled harder.  The CRFFC suggested this new  compensation system be called the "Canoe Paddling Performance Compensation System"  or CPPCS for short.  

Fifth, the CFFC felt the CPT should attend all CRT meetings.  Having the DC, his D/DC's  and the CASM's along with the CPT in the meetings would ensure everyone had input on the CRT strategies.  

Sixth, to keep the CPT motivated during the year the CRFFC asked the Human Resources Department (HRD) to develop an employee slogan such as "Quality Canoeing Wins Races."  HRD ordered Quality Canoeing Wins Races lapel pins, pens, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, signs, and memo pads, etc.,  which were distributed to all company employees.  

As the year progressed, the CPT, DC, D/DC's and the CASM's practiced every day and held weekly staff meetings. HRD kept passing out the "Quality Canoeing Wins Races" incentives.  Soon the second race day arrived and this time the Chinese company won by almost two miles.

Furious over this second loss, senior management decided to:

   1)  Terminate the CPT, the DC, the D/DC and the CSAM's
        citing failure to achieve objectives;
   2)  Cancel all future CRT investments and expenditures;
   3)  Sell the all the CRT equipment including canoe,
        paddles, life preservers and trailer.

Senior executives did, however, feel the establishment of the CRT was a bold, forward thinking endeavor.  To thank all employees who sat on the CFFRC for their hard work and for displaying such initiative and exerting great creativity, senior executives decided to reward them all with a sizable year-end bonus.