Downturn or Tighten Up?

The news on layoffs for January was as bleak as the previous months'. One could wonder when these job cuts are going to subside. But according to the Wharton School, it may not just be the economic downturn that is forcing the layoffs. They could be revealing the fact that the company was already in trouble. As the Wharton report indicates, "But the caveat is that layoffs are a proxy for the fact that companies which decide to do them are already in trouble. It is hard to sort the effect of the layoffs, per se, from the proxy effect."

We know that the automobile industry has been limping along for years. But some of the other companies in the news may have managed to shield from themselves, from their workers, and from the public that they were not strong operationally. Too often, companies become complacent and do not spend the time to do a little self-reflection and analysis of their systems, processes, and procedures. Many companies are running on antiquated thinking, systems, and practices. Tom has talked about Re-imagining organizations, and I think that now is the time for even the best companies to take a look at what's under the hood. Is the vision still on target, are the processes and systems designed to enhance customer experiences, are the talent performance systems attracting and retaining the right people? What do you think? How does your company assess itself? We go to the doctor for regular check-ups so that we can stay healthy and identify small problems before they become large problems. In business, there is no time to assess; everyone keeps running until they are winded and the next thing we know, there is a major collapse. I am sure that before a physical collapse or a business collapse there were some warning signs along the way, if someone had only looked.