This short story, based on “A Modern Parable,” summarizes the current management style at Cooper.
Cooper Tires CEO Roy Armes met with Bridgestone CEO Masaaki Tsuya-San, and both agreed to start a canoe race event on the Blanchard River in Findlay and the Tone River in Tokyo, Japan, on an annual alternating basis.
Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.
On the big day, the Japanese team won by a mile.
Armes, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat.
A team of executives (Chris Ostrander, Bradley Hughes, Hal Miller and Brenda Harmon) was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.
Their conclusion was the Bridgestone team had eight people rowing and one person steering, while the Cooper team had eight people steering and one person rowing.
Feeling the need for in-depth study, Armes hired a consulting company and paid it $10,000 for a second opinion. They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the canoe, while not enough people were rowing.
Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, Armes and the executives totally reorganized the rowing team structure: two steering supervisors, one area steering superintendent, one assistant superintendent, one manager, one assistant manager, two navigators and one rower.
Armes also implemented a new performance system called Rowing Team Quality First Program (RTQFP) that would give the one person rowing the canoe a greater incentive to work harder and earn free pens, key chains, T-shirts and extra vacation days for practice. In addition, there was discussion of getting new equipment to develop a new aerodynamic canoe and paddles for future competitions.
The next year the Japanese won by two miles.
Humiliated, Armes laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of the new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment.
The money saved was distributed to Armes and the executives as bonuses, and the next year’s racing team was outsourced to India.
Sadly, the end.
Joe Shaheen