Lean and Mean or Sick and Angry

Becoming lean is not a sign of future health, but of present failure. The ultimate way to achieve leanness is downsizing, or, to put it more bluntly, firing lots of people more or less at random. This is what my colleague Ken Orr calls “organizational bulimia.” Downsizing is exactly the opposite of what management has been chartered to achieve. The natural goal for almost any business is upsizing. Downsizing programs are clear admissions of upper management failure. Yet, somehow, it’s never upper management that gets downsized.

Lean and mean means sick and angry. Maybe that’s what many organizations have become, but it’s time to stop pretending that it was ever a desirable goal.

Tom DeMarco, “Why Does Software Cost So Much”, Essay 4

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