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Blame the TaliBain

Critics of Intel’s reorganization say a consultant’s unyielding benchmarks guided program and job cuts. The rigid adherence to rules earned the consultancy an unflattering nickname.

January 10, 2008
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Related Topics: Downsizing, Strategic Planning, Workforce Planning, HR & Business Administration
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Critics of Intel’s reorganization say the company relied too heavily on an outside consulting firm, which reportedly was Boston-based Bain & Co. And the degree to which Bain’s benchmark figures were treated as gospel in chopping people and programs led employees to jokingly call the company’s consultants the "TaliBain," critics say.

    Richard Taylor, Intel vice president and co-leader of the firm’s human resources department, declined to comment on whether Intel hired Bain for the restructuring. But he rejects the idea that a consultant’s benchmarking numbers determined the restructuring decisions. Taylor, who was the leader of one of the five teams behind Intel’s overall restructuring, said company executives were careful to focus on overall efficiency, effectiveness and strategies in crafting the changes.

    A Bain representative did not return calls seeking comment.

    Intel over the past 20 months has revamped operations and shrunk itself. Done in the face of falling revenue and market share, the overhaul aims to make Intel more agile and to save the company billions of dollars. Intel announced 10,500 job cuts from the 102,500 employees it had in mid-2006. And thanks to attrition and other activities, including the sale of business units, the company said its headcount would likely get down to 86,000 by the end of 2007.

    Intel’s HR costs have been trimmed by nearly 40 percent. Taylor describes the number of HR jobs cut as "significant," but declined to specify the number. He says Intel’s department went from being among the top one-third in expenses per employee to the middle of the pack, according to industry benchmarks.

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