Here's something that has been around a while but seems more true every year.
Once upon a time, a Regional Bell Operating Company and an Asian rice
cooperative decided to have a competitive boat race. Both teams practiced
hard and long to reach their peak performance and on the big day, both
felt they were as ready as they could ever be.
The rice farmers won by a mile.
Afterwards, the RBOC team, discouraged by the loss, had to combat sagging
morale so corporate management decided the reason for the humiliating
defeat had to be found. A continuing "measurable improvement" team was set
up to investigate the problem and to recommend appropriate corrective
They concluded the problem was: The Asians had eight people rowing and
one person steering. The RBOC's team had one person rowing and eight
steering. The RBOC team promptly hired a consulting firm to do a study and
find a solution. After some months and millions of dollars, the consulting
firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough rowing.
To prevent a future loss, the team's management structure was revised to
four steering managers, three area steering managers, and one staff
steering manager. An incentive program was initiated to improve the
rower's performance. "In order to get him to work harder, we must give him
empowerment and enrichment" said the corporate managers.
The next race, the RBOC team lost by two miles.
Humiliated, the RBOC laid off the rower for poor performance, sold all the
paddles, canceled all capital investment for new equipment, halted
development of a new canoe, gave a high performance award to the
consulting firm, and distributed the money saved by the program reduction
as bonuses to the senior executives.
Just insert your favourite company name in the first line and enjoy