A Conversation for Coping With Redundancy

The other side of the coin: when redundancy is necessary

Post 1

paulh, making lemonade from the lemons that life has given me

First example:

Let's go back to September 11, 2001, when
a mutual fund organization run by the Alger
Brothers near the top of the World Trade Center
in New York was pretty nearly wiped out in
a terrorist attack. Something like two-thirds of
the analysts were in their offices that day,
and there were no survivors. One of the two
founding Alger brothers was among them.

This would have been the end of the company
were it not for the fact that the *other*
founding brother (I don't remember whether
it was Fred or David) was somewhere else at the
time. The survivors (there were about a dozen
of them) were the ones who, for whatever reason,
were not at work that day. They nevertheless
reconsituted the company.

Second example:

Tandem Computers and similar makers of redundant
systems. Do computers crash? Yes, of course they
do. It's happened to me. Maybe it's happened to you.
Fortunately, most computer uses back up some or all
of their files. Some systems go even further, backing
up *everything* automatically, so if part of the
system crashes, another part still stands, with
complete files.

Third example:

Martha Stewart. (Yes, she really *is* everywhere
these days smiley - winkeye.) She has stepped down from most of
the positions she once held at her company. I sure
hope that there are a few "redundant" employees at
that company, who can step in and run it while she's
on trial for insider trading and/or obstruction of
justice. These would be people who know the company
and its procedures/policies well enough to run it.

So, I am arguing that organizations *need* redundancy.
Maybe a terrorist attack isn't going to hit your
office building. Maybe your whole system won't crash.
Maybe your head honcho isn't going to go to jail.
However, people do get hit by trucks, struck by lightning,
incapacitated by SARS, and sidelined in large numbers
by flu pandemics. Do you want your organization to
go belly up because the survivors didn't know their
absent colleagues' jobs well enough to duplicate
what they were doing?

The other side of the coin: when redundancy is necessary

Post 2


I totally agree with you, Paul, but unfortunately one easy way for a manager to gain the approval of the people in the expensive suits above him is to sack as many people as possible. I used to work for a company where any manager who abolished the job of one of the people who reported to him was paid that ex-employee's salary for a year thereafter as a reward. smiley - bigeyes

Of course, what then happened was that the dwindling number of survivors had to work harder and harder, until they all started to leave or become ill with stress. Staff morale was at rock bottom at the point when they got rid of me. The company concerned didn't slim down and prosper; the last I heard, it was in financial difficulties. But, infuriatingly, that kind of short-sighted management thinking goes on a lot these days. smiley - steam

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