Monday, April 7, 2008

Ford and Toyota in Ohio

Received this in my email with no citation or link, but too good not to pass on. Please send me information if you know source of material so I can attribute properly:

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A Japanese company ( Toyota ) and an American company (Ford) decided to have a canoe race on the Ohio River. Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action. Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 8 people steering and 1 person rowing. Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion. They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager and 1 rower. They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the 'Rowing Team Quality First Program,' with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses.

The next year the Japanese won by two miles. Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses and the next year's racing team was out-sourced to India..

Sadly, The End.

Ford has spent the last thirty years moving all its factories out of the US , claiming they can't make money paying American wages while Toyota has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US.

Here are last quarter's results:

Toyota made $4 billion in profits. Ford had $9 billion in losses.

Ford folks are still scratching their heads....

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Also sadly, this fable paints an overly flattering portrait of Ford management. Pity the poor shareholders, not to mention employees, who thought Ford executives knew what they were doing as they hatched their hare-brained schemes to buy Jaguar and Land Rover, deals which resulted in a 67% investment loss for the company.

Ford Motor Company represents yet another test of the "buy and hold" folk wisdom: Sold for about $3.00 a share on April 9, 1998, sells for $2.41 today. Oh, yeah, while the company was talking about restructuring and getting concessions from its employees and other such stuff, the stock worked its way up to a high of $26.40 in November, 2005, then descended back into the pits. Yo! You investors who believed this kind of management would be able to hold on to those gains: What were you thinking?

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