Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Competitive (dis)advantage

Three contractors were visiting a tourist attraction on the same day. One was from the U.S., another from China, and the third from Singapore.

At the end of the tour, the guard asked them what they did for a living. When they all replied that they were contractors, the guard said, "Hey, we need one of the rear fences redone. Why don't you guys take a look at it and give me a bid?" So, to the back fence they all went to check it out.

First to step up was the Singaporean contractor. He took out his tape measure and pencil, did some measuring and said, "Well I figure the job will run about $900. $400 for materials. $400 for my crew, and $100 profit for me."

Next was the Chinese contractor. He also took out his tape measure and pencil, did some quick figuring and said, "Looks like I can do this job for $700. $300 for materials, $300 for my crew, and $100 profit for me."

Without so much as moving, the American contractor said, "$2,700."

The guard, incredulous, looked at him and said, "You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?"

"Easy," he said. "$1,000 for me, $1,000 for you and we hire the guy from China."


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