Indeed. We got a resume just today from someone who had been with IBM for a number of years. All that I can offer to them is that they are going into a healthier job market for tech than has been seen for quite a while.
'Institutionalized' is a good term for it. My Mother was a social worker, and she did her Master's thesis on institutionalization in mental hospitals. People become dependent on the specific structure provided by an organization like that. It is so foreign to the way that I think that I have difficulty relating to it, but I recognize that it exists.
I think that we are in the midst of a fundamental change in how companies are organized, and the victims of that change are some of the large tech companies. Years ago I read an article on the evolution of the modern office where they described how automation moves companies from large numbers of people with narrowly defined jobs to smaller numbers with broader responsibilities. These smaller numbers are effective because of automation and commodization of the work that was previously done by many. Consider: Previously it took a giant like Sony to create consumer devices. Now small numbers of engineers can create them from standard parts. Previously it took companies like IBM to create significant software. Now a few dozen software engineers can create and deploy worldwide a product which the market values at $19B. That kind of change is going to cause ripples.
Years ago I read an article on the evolution of the modern office where they described how automation moves companies from large numbers of people with narrowly defined jobs to smaller numbers with broader responsibilities.
Very true. Especially true in manufacturing as it is now practiced in the West. Which is why more education is needed for most of the jobs in the future. Companies like Rockwell Autmation are creating the industrial machines that have displaced those narrowly focused factory jobs of the past. And of course, PCs have replaced the narrowly focused office jobs of the past as well.
daleste wrote: Sad to see IBM having to have such a large layoff. It has been the company that was the benchmark for not allowing layoffs.
IBM's "full employment practice" was a long, long time ago. Long ago IBM considered it Good Business and Good Management to have a loyal work force, and realized that you cannot have employees loyal to the company if the company is not loyal to them. They liked to hire inexperienced people so they could mold them to the IBM Way and liked them to stay with IBM their whole careers. IBM was careful not to expand in temporary ways that would result in layoffs later.
All this changed in under CEO John Akers (1983-1993), whom Steve Jobs once described as: "smart, eloquent, fantastic salesperson, but he didn't know anything about product." The "full employment practice" ended and was replaced with black humor:
Q: What's the definition of an Optimist?
A: An IBM employee who, on Sunday, irons five white shirts.
I love the optimist joke. Do they still wear white shirts? My uncle was a computer salesman for IBM back when I was in school in the 70s and 80s. They made a new title for him, Super Senior Salesman, because he was good at selling mainframes. He retired in the 80s, so he missed all of the fun of changing the company.
It indeed is sad. However, this is universal truth in making - everyday, everyweek, evaluate yourself for your work output and your remuneratio. If it differes above margin, you are in red and layoff may be imminent. It can be IBM or other organization.
Yes, but I think the culture of the individual company and the place where one works has a lot tod o with things like that as well. Certainly places value there employees a lot more. And then there are conditions that are outside of the control of the company as well as the employee like the situation of the economy. Being laid off is not always a reflection of poor individual performance.
IBM has been relatively resilient in the face of the rise of the new IT giants and the economic crisis of a few years ago. Now this seems like a delayed moment of restructuring and contraction--one that is reflective of their strategy more than any bigger trends in the industry. They have moved from being a hardware company to more of a software provider and that leaves a lot of people out of the loop. The cuts began last year actually, but they are intensifying.
We shouldn't make the mistake of thinking this is a transformation that afffects the United States more than other parts of the world--even if IBM is using terms such as "rebalancing." Obviously, they have already trimmed 1000 jobs from India. It'll be interesting to follow just how many jobs are cut outside of the US compared to within the US, in order to track the ongoing trend of out-sourcing and its impact on such large-scale contractions.
They have moved from being a hardware company to more of a software provider and that leaves a lot of people out of the loop.
@zewde, I agree with you. I think the process started when IBM sold its personal computer business (Thinkpad) to lenovo. It would be interesting to know the future strategy of the IBM and whether they would totally want to exit the hardware business.
Prabhakar, you are right in your observation. Companies like HP which prided itself in the "reinvent" campaign did not quite pull it off. I often find the middle management in companies like these (that have gone thru big downsizing) just focus on "managing" and lose touch completely with technology. I don't see how such managers can lead in reinventing and keep the company on a growth trajectory.
The amazing part of this is that if you look up IBM's history, they went through transformations many times, surviving the Great Depression, and becoming a dominant player in digital electronic computing. None of this must have been easy, right?
What's so different about now? The first to be fired should be the execs. Just sayin'.
When are the execs ever the first to be fired? Not in the great depression and not today. Besides, things nowadays are much better than in times of crisis, especially the depression. But there is still a sense of uncertainty that permeates today's economy, like we're still not entirely in the clear, like the business community is still not overwhelmingly confident. IBM is an example of that problem right now.