that some of our readers who have contributed to the Organization/Management section of their
concrete canoe design reports would appreciate this humorous note originally
contributed by Dr. David B. Pollock of Huntsville, Alabama and modified, only
slightly, by Dr. John A. Gilbert of UAH.
few years ago, two rival schools decided to have a 4 person co-ed concrete canoe race
on a lake nearby.
Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.
On the big day, Team A won by a significant margin.
Afterwards, Team B became very discouraged and morally depressed.
Team B's faculty advisor decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found.
A Measurement Team, made up of senior faculty from Team B's business college was formed. They would investigate and recommend appropriate
action. They noted that Team A had 3 people paddling and 1 person steering, while
Team B had 1 person paddling and 3 people steering.
At the suggestion of the Measurement Team, Team B's department head hired a consulting company and paid them an impressive consulting fee.
The consultants advised that too many people were steering the boat and not enough people were paddling.
To prevent losing to Team A again the next year, the chapter's canoe team was
instructed to totally reorganize their management structure to
include a steering supervisor, an area steering superintendent, and an assistant steering manager.
Team B's faculty advisor was also instructed to implement a new performance system that would give the 1 person paddling the boat
greater incentive to work harder.
The Measurement Team called the new performance system the Canoe Team Quality First Program, with meetings, diners, and free pens for the
paddler. In their concrete canoe design report, Team B proudly reported that their
underlying strategy was to give the paddler empowerment and enrichment through this
unique quality program suggested by the business school.
The next year Team A won over Team B by twice the distance that they did the
previous year. Humiliated, the Measurement Team demanded that the
chapter lay off the paddler for poor
performance, halt development of a new canoe, sell the paddles, and cancel all canoe capital investments
for new equipment. Under intense pressure from the administration, the
faculty advisor and the students complied with these demands.
Then, the Measurement Team gave a "High Performance Award" to the steering managers and distributed the money
they saved as bonuses to themselves and other senior faculty.
The faculty, in turn, gave the chapter's faculty advisor the "Distinguished Faculty Award" for bestowing a sense of
corporate realism on his students.
The student who was fired
ended up transferring to the rival school where she competed in the concrete
canoe competition at the national level. More importantly, she went on to earn her MBA and started what is now a
multi-million dollar consulting firm specializing in quality management for
corporations involved in outdoor recreational activities.