The joke below has lain dormant on my Humor page for well over a decade now. No one knows who wrote it. No one remembers who sent it. There’ve always been several things wrong with it.
1) It’s too close to the truth.
2) There are too many variants of the joke, all kludged together by others trying to get more mileage out of a self-evident fact.
3) These days it seems more appropriate than ever.
The Americans and the Japanese decided to engage in a boat race. Both Teams
practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance levels. On the big
day they felt ready. The Japanese won by a mile.
The American team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Corporate
management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found,
so a consulting firm was hired to investigate the problem and recommend
The consultant’s finding: The Japanese team had eight people rowing and one
person steering; the American team had one person rowing and eight people
After a year of study and millions spent analyzing the problem, the
consultant firm concluded that too many people were steering and not enough
were rowing on the American team.
So as race day neared again the following year, the American 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 American corporation laid off the rower for poor performance
and gave the managers a bonus for discovering the problem.
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