LO and Big Layoffs LO5455

Virginia I. Shafer (vshafer@AZStarNet.com)
Thu, 8 Feb 1996 12:30:46 -0700

Replying to LO5426 --

>Replying to LO5343, Wolfang Schmid observes:

>I think that there is no general answer to the question if there is the
>general possibility to develop every business further or not. But I am
>also convinced that the general answer cannot only be to downsize and
>restructure every business. Even if it may not be possible for every
>company to be the leader, but to be the follower in their industries, then
>it should be possible to run the best possible strategy to improve at
>least the strategic position in the existing business. Combined with using
>the tools of the learning organization, running an appropriate strategy
>should be enough to gain a sustainable competitive advantage, until the
>whole industry is substituted by the next technology generation.

But if there are finite resources, is not growth eventually limited?

As many have shared the statistics, has downsizing hurt productivity? Are
there fewer jobs? Why are economies growing? What is a "sustainable
competitive advantage until the whole industry is substitued by the next
technology generation?" How does one "stay ahead" until "they're

I see the downsizing excercises more akin to pruning a tree. My husband
sat in awe all last year as this beautiful tree in front of our home grew
magnificently. Toward the end of the growing season, it was time to prune
the lower branches so the tree's energy could go into upper branches next
cycle. (The tree is there to provide shade to help us reduce our energy
consumption.) So very reluctantly, he trimmed the lower branches. Not
removing any, but shortening most. This year, I believe the tree will be
even more magnificent as it reaches higher and broadens wider.

Corporations who re-engineered and downsized for the right reasons, in the
right ways, should enjoy longer term benefits. By this I mean, those who
reduced redundant functions, focused on priorities (customer satisfaction,
specifically), got back to the knitting, as it were, literally cut the
fat, communicating with employees on the whys and wherefores--should do
well over the longer haul. Those who cut into the muscles and tendons as
they went because they didn't have the skills to know better--or back to
my tree pruning analogy--if they cut 15% off every branch because they
could make the numbers look good, they will have succeeded at traumatizing
the tree and it may begin to die a slow and sad death.

And let's face it, there's still a huge price to be paid for destroying
notions of company loyalty. At least in the States, some companies
"downsized" their vested employees, severing health benefits and pension
plans, so they could hire new people without such perquisites. Those
departees will never trust another employer, adding fuel to the fire for
"What's in it for me" on the next job. Enough already. Wolfgang, did I
add to what you said?

Ginger Shafer
The Leadership Dimension
"Bringing Leadership to Life"

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>