Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oops... we retrenched him

Here’s a story on the financial impact of lost expertise. I was working for a newspaper company in the 1990s. At that time there were lots of strikes, the newspaper industry had been going through lots of transformations. The journalists and printers would usually strike together for maximum impact, and they usually chose a Friday, being the day that all the classified ads came out so it had a big financial impact. The managers were strike exempt, and most of them had come up from being journalists and printers themselves, so they would get together and cobble together an edition – it was not as good as the normal edition, and there would still be a financial hit, but they always managed to get an edition out. Then one Friday night, when there was a strike, they were all set for this lead manager to run the presses for them as he normally did. Then they suddenly realized he had been retrenched some weeks before, and nobody else knew how to run the presses. For the first time ever the paper didn’t come out, and there was a huge financial hit, millions of dollars. The management realized what had happened, but there was so much turmoil at the time they never learned from it. They never came up with a risk mitigation strategy.

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