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Old September 29, 2000, 12:00 AM
Michael Ross
 
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Default Up The Creek

Once upon a time the Australians and the Japanese held a boat race on the Brisbane River.

Despite diligent training, the Aussies were thrashed by a mile. The Aussies team management set up a project team to investigate reasons for the defeat and to recommend appropriate action.

The investigation concluded that the problem was in the composition of the teams: the Japanese had eight rowers and one person steering. The Australians had one rower and eight people steering.

Senior management immediately hired a firm of consultants to study the Australian team's structure.

Several months and some millions of dollars later, the consultants advised that in their view, the Australians had too many people steering and not enough people rowing.

Management acted on this advice by promoting four of the steerers to Steering Managers, and introduced a performance and appraisal system to give the rower an incentive to work harder.

Next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Aussie management promptly sacked the rower for poor performance, retrenched the four steerers, and gave the Steering Managers voluntary redundancy packages, sold all the oars, cancelled all capital investment in new equipment and halted development of a new boat.

The consultants received a generous achievement bonus and funds saved on cut-backs were distributed equitably among senior management executives.

The race was abandoned.
 


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