The American Chestnut Tree, like many deciduous trees in the U.S., has fallen victim to blight. Specifically, Asian bark fungus has decimated the population of the once ubiquitous tree. In the Appalachians it's estimated more than 25% of the trees were once American Chestnuts, but now few trees survive. Infected trees are able to reproduce, but blight usually steps in before they can fully grow. When we featured the ten vehicles that bankrupted GM we hoped to show how products can represent the metaphorical blight plaguing GM, but then Jeraymondjr brought it home with this old chestnut.

Perhaps this modern parable will clear up a few things. I'm a former GM and EDS drone and I can vouch for the following:

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

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.

Note, this was written at 2:41 am this morning. They spent a lot of time writing up this COTD.