Disclaimer: This website has been built and is maintained by Team UAH..  the University of Alabama in Huntsville's concrete canoe team.   ConcreteCanoe.org is not an official or sanctioned website of the National Concrete Canoe Competition.  Visitors are directed to the official website for the official rules , latest sanctioned information, and instructions for communicating with the organizing committee.

"Quality First"

We thought 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.

A 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.