The Great Canoe Competition
Two teams of rowers
decided to have a canoe race on the Russian River.
One team represented
local government, and was formed by appointing a select group of seasoned
administrators who set about interviewing the youngest and strongest employees
of county and city agencies.
The other team represented private
enterprise, and was formed by volunteers from local businesses.
teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.
However, the private enterprise team was unable to practice as many hours as the
government team, since they had businesses to run, and could not make use of
accumulated coffee break time, nor use compensatory time for conferences and
seminars not attended.
On the big race day, the teams started at Monte
Rio, headed for the finish line a mile upstream of the Austin Creek bridge. The
businessmen won by half an hour!
The government team was very
discouraged, even depressed. County and city management set up a Joint Task
Force, held study sessions and emergency planning meetings, and finally
concluded the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found.
Commission on Rowing Competition, made up of senior city and county management
and two appointees from the Board of Supervisors, was formed to investigate and
recommend appropriate action.
The Commission on Rowing Competitions
conclusion was that the private enterprise team had eight people paddling and
one person steering; and the government team had 8 people steering and one
person paddling. The Commission recommended that the government hire a
consulting company for further analysis and to recommend solutions, so the Joint
Task Force hired a high profile consulting firm and paid it a large amount of
money for a written report and a series of advisory appearances at Task Force
After six months study, the consulting firm advised that too
many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were paddling.
Armed with this information, the Joint Task Force acted decisively to
prevent losing to the private enterprise team again the following year. The
government team's management structure was totally reorganized. It now consisted
of four steering supervisors, three area steering superintendents, and one
assistant superintendent steering manager, all of whom were given the finest
diversity training program that could be found.
The Task Force also
implemented a new performance system that would give the person paddling the
canoe greater incentive to work harder. It was called the Canoeing Team Quality
First Program, with meetings, dinners and free logo shirts and pens for the
paddler. Even new paddles and enhanced medical benefit incentives were promised
for a winner. We will give our paddler empowerment and enrichment through this
quality program, said the Joint Task Force Chairman.
It was also
decided that the private enterprise team may have had unearned advantages, so
the Joint Task Force required that each rower on that team be required to submit
fingerprints for a background check, and to obtain a canoe paddlers license.
The private enterprise team was also required to register its canoe, and to
arrange for a government employee to measure it. A second government employee
was required to weigh the canoe, and a third to weigh and certify the weights of
each of the paddlers and the helmsman. A fourth government appointee,
established as the Administrator of Canoe-related Weights and Measures, was to
review all applications, weights and measures, and to certify them. All of this
government activity required user fees, all at the expense of the private
It was noted by the Task Force that the previous year,
the private enterprise canoe had moved through the water at roughly twice the
rate of the government teams canoe, so a wake mitigation fee was also applied.
These aggregate fees helped to pay the costs of the Joint Task Force,
the Commission on Rowing Competition, the hired consultant, the diversity
trainer, and the newly established Office of Canoe-related Weights and Measures,
according to the Chairman of the Task Force.
The government team
was, of course, exempt from these requirements and fees.
year, the private enterprise team, fired up by the inequities heaped upon them,
worked extra hard and won by a full two hours! The Joint Task Force met
with the Commission on Rowing Performance. They agreed that they must lay off
the rower for poor performance, halted development of a new canoe, sold the
paddles and canceled all capital investments for new equipment.
they were now spending less than the amount of money they had originally
budgeted, they considered this money saved, and gave all participants in the
Joint Task Force and the Commission on Rowing Performance awards for a job well
done. The Office of Canoe-related Weights and Measures was kept as a new
division of county government, to be financed by a new tax on all canoe paddles.
Paddles without a current tax sticker were confiscated and the owners
As a direct result of this new tax, canoeists in Sonoma County
stopped using paddles, preferring to just drift along Austin Creek with the
This was the beginning of the saying,
up the creek without a