The day after the day after the RIF

As you have probably seen by now, parts of Sun (many of the geos, though not all, at this point) underwent the rightsizing exercise last Thursday that Sun had announced at year-end earnings announcement . The analyst industry had picked up on this quite prominently at the time, like this citation.  The promise from executives was a reduction in headcount to create a lowered breakeven point so that Sun can be put right back onto a path of sustained, attractive, ongoing profitability, with increased mindshare, adoption and market share penetration that will position Sun for future growth.
As you can imagine, this is a VERY difficult exercise. For Sun, as a business, its a tradeoff between
  • Sustained and attractive profitability, which means the layoffs shouldnt exceed the investment threshold we need for comfortable future growth opportunities
  • Is Software a profit center, which it can be, or provide fuel for future growth and Sun Microsystems revenue
  • As an employee-centric company, laying off too many is both irresponsible and discouraging to the morale of those left behind
  • Getting enough costs out of the system so Sun doesnt have to go through a cycle of layoffs, take charges, recover, re-evaluate newer, lower breakeven point
As hard as this itself is, theres something even harder: RIF (Reduction in Force), layoffs, rightsizing, whatever you want to call it, is first and foremost about people. And in many, many cases, it is about having to let go employees who arent ready to make the transition. For managers, and having gone through this process before I can say with full conviction, this is the hardest thing they will ever have done. Sitting across the desk from an employee or colleague whom you dearly respect and whose professionalism, talent, ability and workstyle you have admired over the years and telling them that Sun can no longer afford to have them onboard, is an unforgettable experience. For other employees, who have to replan midcourse, pick up the workload and responsibilities and continue to deliver to the expectations of the customers is a challenging adjustment and stressful exercise. But most of all, its unbelievably hard on the employees who get the surprise  announcement. It upsets their life, it upsets their family and  it upsets their career plans. It is the hardest transition they will ever make.

As much as I hope this layoff is the last one for Sun for business reasons and that we can be back on path of sustained profitability and predictable, delivered growth, I hope equally that those who were let go in this period discover their own ways of landing back on their feet and moving their professional careers to the next level. And with it, their family and life plans. Good luck to you  in your future pursuits, Sun alumni! You belong to a group that the rest of us immensely admire and I hope that we will continue to be friends and that our paths will meet again.
Comments:

A very nice post -- and well-done!

I believe not everyone in the Sun Alumni group has been part of a RIF. Sun Alumni probably serves all Sun Alumni, no matter what the cause of their departure form the company. Right?

Posted by M. Mortazavi on August 07, 2006 at 04:59 AM PDT #

I believe so, but it seems like an important pointer for Sun alumni, whether RIFed or not. Thats why I thought it was interesting to post it. Thanx for your comments.

Posted by Vijay Tatkar on August 07, 2006 at 06:42 AM PDT #

Post a Comment:
  • HTML Syntax: NOT allowed
About

I have worked with Sun and Oracle for 25 years now; in compilers and tools organization for most of these years followed by a couple of years in Cloud Computing. I am now in ISV Engineering, where our primary task is to improve synergy between Oracle Sun Systems and our rich ISV ecosystem

Search

Archives
« April 2014
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
  
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
   
       
Today
Interesting Links