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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 said.

When the opposing teams met the following year, the Navy won by two miles!

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.