Row Row Your Boat… With A Little Management Theory


Can management theory help win a boat race? At Cambridge University, one coach thinks it can.

As in any company, the members of the boat club are torn between competition and co-operation. Colleagues vie with each other for preferment, yet must collaborate closely to fend off competition from without. To win a seat in the blue boat a rower must outshine his clubmates; but to go fast, rowers must synchronise their efforts with the same people they are trying to outdo.

The article doesn't say if any particular management theory is applied, so I'll take a stab at the outcome for different management styles.

One Minute Manager – It better be a short race if they are going to win.

Management by Walking Around – Only Jesus can do this for a rowing team.

Balanced Scorecard Management – Crossing the finish line is only one component of winning.

Theory of Constraints – Throw the weakest rower overboard.

Total Quality Management – Each rower gets feedback on each stroke as the race goes forward.

Two Factor Theory – The rowers need a clean boat and a big trophy.

7-S Management Theory – The boat doesn't ever get anywhere, but it sure is organized nicely.

Blue Ocean Management – Row towards your own finish line and ignore those other teams.

Web 2.0 Management – Build the boat, let the crowd row for you. Even if you lose, maybe Google will like your boat and buy it from you.

Businesspundit Management – Your team doesn't make it to the boat because they are distracted by a stack of business periodicals someone laid on the dock.

UPDATE: So now we add Web 1.0 Management in the comments. Nice. Those of you so inclined, please leave any additions to this list in the comments section.