Lessons from the Winning Japanese Canoe Team

Subject: Strategy
Pages: 2
Words: 286
Reading time:
< 1 min

There are several lessons that the NHS rowing team and management can learn from the winning Japanese team. First, the Japanese kept their winning strategy very simple: have one person steering and eight paddlings. The rest was left to the team. This resulted in specialization within the team, which resulted in high productivity in both races. Japanese management did not keep interfering with the team, because it had handed over the mandate to deliver victory.

The Japanese team was also motivated by the freedom accorded to the company management — something that their American counterparts needed most. After this strategy worked in the first race, Japanese management did not bother with creating investigation teams or inviting expensive consulting services to determine how the next year’s victory would be achieved. What the Japanese did was to leave it to the rowing team, who worked hard to improve on their specialized areas — team members’ became really good at their roles.

The result: a staunching victory for their team, which was accompanied by a double margin gap than the previous year’s victory. Another Japanese lesson would involve the importance of delegating duties. Whereas the Japanese team was tasked with managing themselves in order to achieve the best results in the race, Americans were being managed and closely monitored by senior management. The latter should therefore ensure that the team has all it needs and leave its team alone. That will be the beginning of providing the Japanese team with a serious challenge. Americans should further understand that sticking to their strategies that were not bringing results was not helping the team in the long run; they were actually destroying its morale.