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A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River.

Both the teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day the Japanese won by a mile. Afterward, the American team became very discouraged and morally depressed. The American management decided the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found.

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 persons steering and one person rowing. So American management hired a consulting company and paid them an incredible amount of money. They advised that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

To prevent losing to the Japanese again next year, the rowing team's management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

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. "We must give the rower the empowerment and enrichments through this quality program."

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. Then they distributed the money saved as bonuses to the senior executives.

Submitted by Bill, Narberth, Pa.

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In 1953 the US population was less than 150 million ...
  • ... Yet you knew more people then, and knew them better.
  • The average annual salary was under $3,000. Yet our parents could put some of it away for a rainy day and still live a decent life.
  • A loaf of bread cost about 15 cents. But it was safe for a five-year-old to skate to the store and buy one.
  • Prime-Time meant I Love Lucy, Ozzie and Harriett, Gunsmoke and Lassie. So nobody had ever heard of ratings or filters.
  • We didn't have air-conditioning. So the windows stayed up and half a dozen mothers ran outside when you fell off your bike.
  • Your teacher was either Miss Matthews or Mrs. Logan or Mr. Adkins. But not Ms. Becky or Mr. Dan.
  • The only hazardous material you knew about. Was a patch of grassburrs around the light pole at the corner.
  • Most families needed only one job. Meaning Mom was home when school let out.
  • You loved to climb into a fresh bed. Because sheets were dried on the clothesline.
  • People generally lived in the same hometown with their relatives. So "child care" meant grandparents or aunts and uncles.
  • Parents were respected and their rules were law. . Children did not talk back.
  • TV was in black-and-white. But all outdoors was in glorious color.
  • Your Dad knew how to adjust everybody's carburetor. And the Dad next door knew how to adjust all the TV knobs.
  • Your grandma grew snap beans in the back yard. And chickens behind the garage.
  • And just when you were about to do something really bad. Chances were you'd run into your Dad's high school coach. Or the nosy old lady from up the street. Or your little sister's piano teacher. Or somebody from church. Who ALL knew your parents' phone number. And YOUR first name.

Submitted by John, Upton, Long Island

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Almost 150 years ago, President Lincoln hired Alan Pinkerton for protection.

That was the beginning of the Secret Service. Since that time federal police authority has grown to a large number of multi-letter agencies: FBI, CIA, INS, IRS, DEA, BATF, etc.

Now comes the "Federal Air Transportation Airport Security Service." Can't you see them now, these highly trained men and women in their black outfits with their initials in large white letters across their backs: "FATASS"---------I feel safer already.

Submitted by Andy, Gettysburg, Pa.

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NBC Pictures of the Year ... Take 2

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