What management and leadership lessons can we learn from a boat race.
Consultants and coaches please comment below and let me know!
An Australian company and Japanese company decided to engage in a competitive boat race to show mutual respect and solidarity between the two nations. 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 Australian team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Top 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 finding: The Japanese company team had eight people rowing and one person steering; the Australian company team had one person rowing and eight people steering.
After a year of study and millions spent analyzing the problem, the consulting firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough were rowing on the Australian company team.
So as race day neared again the following year, the Australian company team’s management structure was completely reorganized. 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 Australian company laid off the rower for poor performance and gave the managers a bonus for discovering the problem!
And the moral of the story (apart from being a bit of Friday frivolity) is …
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