The Broadway play Chapter Two reminds us that lives are broken
into chapters. This is also true about America’s corporate life. We
saw the nation go from agriculture to manufacturing in the last
hundred or so years closing the chapter on farming and
beginning a chapter on mass production. The next chapter for
America’s economy has begun, a chapter which sees mid- and
large size-corporations continually looking t ways to trim expenses
in order to compete in a tough economy. Downsizing first became
popular in the late 1980s as companies began to focus on the
bottom line. It continued for many years saving a good number of
today’s corporations from extinction. However as the economy
grew, these downsized companies upsized once again. Like
popular fad diets, the weight they had lost was put back on along
with some extra pounds.

As we see the downsizing trend occurring again, we must realize it
is likely to be more permanent as record numbers of employees
see their names on the downsized list. So many individuals are
affected that some companies are prospering from this trend.

Properly downsizing can be prosperous to any company, adding
to the bottom-line in a very short time frame. But improper
downsizing has the potential an unrecoverable nosedive into the
wastelands of corporations past. In any downsized company,
employees that remain will wonder if they have really survived or if
their name in an undeclared wave of layoffs still to come. Leaders
find that they have fewer people to do the work, but just as much
work needing to be done. Employees wonder why they have more
tasks to do and nothing extra in their paycheck. These conditions
can add up to disaster that not only affects the downsized
company, but also impacting their customers and suppliers.

Following the downsize trend of the late last century teamwork
became so popular that it became a way of life across many, if not
all, sectors of the supply chains. Each facet of the chain pushed
work and analysis further down the chain in such a way that today’
s downsizing has a completely different character. This means
that at any sales portion of the supply chain (IE: raw goods to
assembler) the seller must be willing to team with the customer in
order to maintain and grow business. It is not a difficult task to do
once one gets beyond on argument that it is not the job of the
seller, but it is one that must be diligently researched and
developed. Companies that do not get involved in the team will be
left in the dugout as their competitors take to the field.

Proper downsizing involves many aspects of gaining employee
trust, leadership training, and a review of the organizational
structure. It must be coupled with a fresh approach and outlook to
the business that states, “This is a new beginning, not an end;
this is the time for all levels of employees to become fully
committed and connected to our success and future together.”

Thomas Hickok observes that downsizing is only successful when
it is accompanied by this form of true culture change. In his essay
he points to Xerox and General Electric as proof of this point.
Certainly these activities can range from lip-service to formalities,
but as Hickok’s examples show, true change must be sought after
from the top down. Where there has been a genuine striving to
look optimistically at the new opportunity a downsized company
has, considering the positive impact to the bottom-line and vibrant
opportunity to compete as a leaner, lower cost organization the
success rate is staggeringly positive.
More business by the numbers here,
Survive downsizing:
Top tips