I, Cringely: No Joy in Mudville

by Volker Weber

I have no idea whether IBM senior vice-president Bob Moffat is guilty of insider trading or not, though that’s what he was arrested for yesterday. What I do know is that Moffat’s job since 2005 has been as the architect of IBM’s project called LEAN, which is intended to adjust Big Blue’s global labor force to maximize profitability. I’ve written quite a bit about LEAN, much to the consternation of IBM, characterizing it in large part as a way to replace expensive older American workers with younger and cheaper workers in India and Argentina while cleverly dodging U.S. age discrimination and possibly other civil rights laws.  Whatever the legality of LEAN it is downright mean and shows little respect for the people who made IBM what it is today.

What does it say, then, when the architect of LEAN is arrested for alleged insider trading?

I sense some rejoicing amongst those laid off, err resource actioned.

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So let me get this straight;

An IBM Executive who is already largely evaluated by the impact his programs have on stock price comes up with the "LEAN" program. This program sacrifices (potentially) long term strategic people in favor of less expensive ones and thus a better short term stock report (and thus, a better job evaluation).

After already sacrificing the long term for the short, to his own benefit; he then is able to predict the impact of his decisions on the market and make unlawful stock transactions (or enable others to make them -- I didn't read that part) to further profit from both the immediate pain of those he laid off, and the long term strategic problems introduced by his programs for the company.

First, if it's true I hope he rots in jail. Not a nice jail either, but rather one of the least funded ones in India or China. Second, is this really all that surprising?

Andrew Pollack, 2009-10-19

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