The human and business costs of "resource actions"

ATN-300InsightaaS: It’s not news to anyone that making a living is a struggle. When I was younger, I used to sometimes chuckle at stores that closed down – “how could they think that would work?” As I got older, and especially, after I started a business of my own, I stopped laughing. Every “for rent” sign marked the end of someone’s dreams and plans and sweat, and a large portion of their equity, and left them in that dark spot where they wonder how they’ll provide for their families.

Those of us who are in our own businesses sometimes cast an envious glance at people employed by large corporations who get regular paycheques regardless of the ups and downs of their businesses. However, the safety of large company employees is illusory. Large companies react to large numbers, and in time, individuals and their families are subject to the same losses, and led to the same dark spot, as the retailers or the independent entrepreneurs.

In today’s featured post, Peter Greulich, a former IBMer reflects on a “Resource Action” day that he lived through in 2009. It does a good job of reflecting the human cost of business actions, and is well worth a read as IBM girds for a historically-large layoff, and employees at other companies continue to experience the fallout from changing fortunes. 

If Robert X. Cringely is correct, one day this week IBM employee-owners will be subjected to one more resource action day. Or as we refer to them poetically inside IBM, an R. A. Day. R. A. Days are not rah-rah days of rejoicing, renewed enthusiasm or new records. They are, as you will read, times of ruthlessness and fear.

This is one R. A. Day—one 24-hour period at IBM on January 21, 2009. Watson Sr. is not resting in peace.



Resource actions have never ended. Gerstner started them; Samuel J. Palmisano became addicted to them; Virginia M. Rometty, evidently, sees them as the only path to meeting her targets. For the individual, resource actions are water torture, and for a corporate social ecology they are waterboarding. When in process, they are suffocating.

They touch moms and dads, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. These elephants are a family affair, and they touch us everywhere — sometimes it is distant; sometimes it is close; sometimes it is on your doorstep.

On January 21, 2009, I decided to capture one on paper.

The day began in the Jewish tradition — in the darkness of the night before. Our CEO sent an e-mail prologue, most likely as he left for home, family and friends…

Read the entire post on LinkedIn: Link


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