No Firing, CEO to Secretary Take Collective Action – Video

This was a video shared in WhatsApp by one of our union members. Next Jump and Barry-Wehmiller could be Utopian islands in the sea of capitalist sharks. But the principle has an important message to the workers.

Which of IndianIT/ITES CEOs will GO FIRST? Share you thoughts.

TED Talk – How to be a Great Leader


Charlie Kim is the CEO of a company called Next Jump in New York City, a tech company. He makes the point that if you had hard times in your family would you ever consider laying off one of your children. We would never do it, then why do we consider laying off people inside our organization?

Charlie implemented a policy of lifetime employment. If you get a job at next jump you cannot get fired for performance issues. In fact if you have issues they will coach you and they will give you support just like we would with one of our children who happens to come home with a C from school.

It’s the complete opposite [in normal practice]. This is the reason so many people have such a visceral hatred, anger at some of these banking CEOs with their disproportionate salaries and bonus structures.

It’s not the numbers it’s that they have violated the very definition of leadership. They have violated a deep-seated social contract. We know that they allowed their people to be sacrificed so that they could protect their own interests. Or worse they sacrificed their people to protect their own interests.

This is what so offends us not the numbers. Would anybody be offended if we gave 150 million dollar bonus to Gandhi, How about a two hundred and fifty million dollar bonus to mother Teresa. Do we have an issue with that? None at all, none at all.

Great leaders would never sacrifice the people to save the numbers. They would sooner sacrifice the numbers to save the people.

Bob Chapman runs a large manufacturing company in the Midwest called Barry-Wehmiller. In 2008 the company is hit very hard by the recession and they lost 30% of their orders overnight. Now in a large manufacturing company this is a big deal and they could no longer afford their labor pool. They needed to save ten million dollars.

So like so many companies today the board got together and discussed layoffs. Bob refused.

You see Bob doesn’t believe in head counts. Bob believes in heart counts and it’s much more difficult to simply reduce the heart count and so they came up with a furlough program. Every employee from secretary to CEO was required to take four weeks of unpaid vacation. They could take it anytime they wanted and they did not have to take it consecutively.

But it was how Bob announced the program that mattered so much. He said it’s better that we should all suffer a little than any of us should have to suffer a lot and morale went up. They saved 20 million dollars and most importantly as he’d be expected when the people feel safe and protected by the leadership in the organization the natural reaction is to trust and cooperate and quite spontaneously.

Nobody expected people started trading with each other. Those who could afford it more would trade with those who could afford it less. People would take five weeks so that somebody else only had to take three.

Leadership is a choice. It is not a rank. I know many people at the senior most levels of organizations who are absolutely not leaders. They are authorities and we do what they say because they have authority over us but we would not follow them.

I know many people who at the bottoms of organizations who have no authority and they are absolutely leaders. This is because they have chosen to look after the person to the left of them and they have chosen to look after the person to the right of them. This is what a leader is.

I heard a story of some Marines who were out in theater and as is the marine custom the officer ate last and he let his men eat first. When they were done there was no food left for him.  When they went back out in the field his men brought him some of their food so that he ate. That’s what happens.

We call them leaders because they go first. We call them leaders because they take the risk before anybody else does. We call them leaders because they will choose to sacrifice so that their people may be safe and protected.

When we do this the natural response is that our people will sacrifice for us. They will give us their blood and and tears to see that their leaders vision comes to life. When we asked them why would you do that, why would you give your blood and sweat and tears for that person, they all say the same thing. Because they would have done it for me.

Isn’t that the organization we would all like to work in!

thank you very much!

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