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The Layoffs

In 1990, IBM was really hurting. Most people knew it, and most could identify the problems, but it wasn't until IBM hired Lou Gerstner that we actually had someone in charge with enough guts to make the needed changes. Part of the needed changes were layoffs. That was a real culture shock for people who had worked for IBM for very long. Its difficult to convey today how much of a culture shock that was. IBM until that time had steadfastly resisted layoffs to avoid any union activity. People came to work for IBM intending to spend their entire career and that's what IBM expected too. It was really unusual for someone to leave IBM.

So when people who had been working for IBM for 25 or 30 or 35 years where told they no longer had a job, it was just an incredible shock. Its traumatic anytime someone gets let go, but for people who had lived in this culture for their entire career, it was just a tremendous shock. Many people were really hurt. Its a real testament to the quality of people IBM employed that they took it as well as they did. The ones I know, did make the adjustment, but there were some bitter feelings for a while.