IBM to Fire 150,000 Employees?

I’m pretty new to the world of hyper-large corporate companies. Hewlett-Packard is the largest company that I have worked for with about ~150,000 employees worldwide. I joke that my HP employee number has more digits than the social security number.

Well, there was an article posted on Slashdot today that outlines Palmino’s (CEO) LEAN plan to reduce upwards of 150,000 employees or 40% of the US workforce. I was shocked by these numbers. First of all, I had no idea that IBM has a total of 350,000 employees worldwide. How in the world do you manage an organization with that many employees? Can anything really get done? Second, 40% of the US workforce? That’s amazing. The article states,

LEAN is about offshoring and outsourcing at a rate never seen before at IBM. For two years Big Blue has been ramping up its operations in India and China with what I have been told is the ultimate goal of laying off at least one American worker for every overseas hire. The BIG PLAN is to continue until at least half of Global Services, or about 150,000 workers, have been cut from the U.S. division. Last week’s LEAN meetings were quite specifically to find and identify common and repetitive work now being done that could be automated or moved offshore, and to find work Global Services is doing that it should not be doing at all. This latter part is with the idea that once extraneous work is eliminated, it will be easier to move the rest offshore.

My engineering team is currently building out a team in China to offshore a bulk of the non-innovative work. Previously, we had offshored much of our work to Israel where there was a large R&D location. However, how the hell do you effectively manage offshoring the work of 150,000 employees while still maintaining any momentum. This seems impossible to me.

Well, we’ll need to wait and see how the layoffs go. If you’re working for IBM Global Services, I would get tidy up your desk for a quick departure.

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