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People get bent out of shape when Cisco lays off staff every year. Except that Cisco decimates its staff every year; it’s partly a way to weed out weak performers, but mostly to remind employees that bad performance will be punished.
The word decimation is derived from Latin meaning “removal of a tenth.” The procedure was a pragmatic attempt to balance the need to punish serious offenses with the realities of managing a large group of offenders. – Decimation (Roman army) – Wikipedia
Decimation is a management process that dates back to the Roman Army, wherein units that failed to perform were severely punished:
A cohort (roughly 480 soldiers) selected for punishment by decimation was divided into groups of ten. Each group drew lots, and the soldier on whom the lot fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning or clubbing. The remaining soldiers were often given rations of barley instead of wheat (the latter being the standard soldier’s diet) for a few days, and required to camp outside the fortified security of the camp. – Wikipedia
The decimation method makes no attempt to select good or bad people. It’s about motivating the maximum number of people for the least amount of effort by raising the lowest performer to average.
Because the punishment fell by lot, all soldiers in a group sentenced to decimation were potentially liable for execution, regardless of individual degrees of fault, rank, or distinction. – Wikipedia
In large groups, it’s more effective to either remove the least effective or improve their performance than it is to make the most of your best people. Just another aspect of why big companies are stupid.
The Etherealmind View
This “management methodology” was very common in the 1980s and 1990s but doesn’t really produce results today. Companies that use decimation probably haven’t modernized.
- Stack ranking systems encourage “zombie running;” that is, you don’t have to be the fastest runner, just faster than the slowest person in your group.
- The idea is to create competition among employees instead of focusing on creating the best product or service for customers.
- Even if you are one of the best, your job isn’t certain. Excellence may not be recognized when the goal is to not be the worst.