Once upon a time, two aerospace companies, one American and one Japanese, decided to have a boat race on the Tennessee River. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance. On the big day, they both felt as ready as they could be.
THE JAPANESE WON BY A MILE.
Afterwards, the American team became very discouraged by the loss, and morale sagged. Corporate management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. A Corporate Steering Committee was set up to investigate the problem and to recommend appropriate corrective action. Their conclusion:
The problem was that the Japanese had eight people rowing and one person steering; whereas, the American team had one person rowing and eight people steering.
The American Corporate Steering Committee immediately hired a consulting firm to do a study on the management structure. After some time and millions of dollars, the consulting firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough rowing.
To prevent losing to the Japanese again the next year, the team's management structure was totally reorganized to four Steering Managers, three Area Steering Managers, one Staff Steering Manager, and a new performance system for the person rowing the boat to encourage him/her to row harder.
THE NEXT YEAR THE JAPANESE WON BY TWO MILES.
Humiliated, the American corporation laid off the rower for poor performance, sold all the paddles, canceled all capital investments for new equipment, halted development of a new canoe, gave a High-Performance Award to the consulting firm, and distributed the money saved as bonuses to the senior executives.