The Boat Race
One bright day at the Pentagon, when everyone was tired of making
paper airplanes out of contingency plans and too bored to
experiment with another flavored coffee, the Air Force decided to
challenge the Navy to a boat race.
Being eager and energetic young military men, keen to prove their
superiority in all things, teams were quickly formed and training
undertaken with serious intent ... after all, the honor of the
service was at stake, so a blood sacrifice would not be untoward.
Practice had brought them to peak performance before the race, so
tensions were high as supporters lined the banks of the Potomac
River during the event. On this big day, the Navy won by a mile!
Afterwards, the Air Force team became very discouraged and
depressed. The officers of the Air Force contingent decided that
the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found. A Metrics
Team, made up of senior officers, was formed to investigate
and recommend appropriate action.
Their investigation revealed that the Navy had eight seamen
rowing and one officer steering, while the Air Force, following
its traditional command structure, had one airman rowing and
eight NCOs and officers steering. So the senior officers of the
Air Force Metrics Team hired a consulting company,
paying them incredible amounts of money, for streamlined data
analysis and remedial recommendations. The consultants advised
the Air Force that too many people were steering the boat and
that not enough people were rowing.
In a concerted effort to prevent another loss to the Navy in the
coming year, the Air Force Chief of Staff made historic and
sweeping changes: the rowing team's organizational structure was
totally realigned. The new and improved arrangement would emplace
four steering officers, three area steering superintendents, and
one assistant superintendent steering NCO. They also implemented
a new performance motivation system that would give the one
airman rowing the boat a much greater incentive to work harder.
They called it the Rowing Team Quality Air Force
Program, with meetings, dinners, and a three-day
pass for the rower. "We must give the rower empowerment and
enrichment through this quality program," the Air Force Chief
When the opposing teams met the following year, the Navy won by
Humiliated, the Air Force leadership gave the rower a Letter of
Reprimand for poor performance; initiated a $4 billion program
for development of a new joint-service boat that would
equalize the competition; blamed the loss on a design defect in
the non-ergonomic paddles; and issued leather rowing jackets to
the beleaguered steering officers in hopes that they would stay
for next year's race.
Meanwhile, the Army team is still trying to figure out why the
oars keep making divots in the grass when they're rowing.