Search

Chronicle of an unexpected decision | Chapter 4 de 4

Hello, dear reader!

We have reached the fourth and last chapter of the "Chronicle of an unexpected decision", where I finish narrating the history of the GDCA. It includes the last relevant events of our Unit after my departure, as well as the main conclusions I have reached while reflecting on it during these last years. Some of them will be unthinkable or surprising to you, but you may not agree with me on others. What you can be sure of is that they represent my most sincere and honest opinion about what many of us had to go through.

Just as during the first three chapters the narration of the facts was absolutely objective and beyond any doubt, in this last stage I express my personal position and subjective interpretation of what happened and I assume full responsibility for it. I do so motivated by the conviction that every painful experience that we have to live through must bring us, at least, a lesson; and that it will surely be different for each one of us.

In my case, I learned that the values and principles of an organization, no matter how solid they may seem, can mutate to adapt to an ever-changing market. If that happens, those values and principles were not such, but mere speeches to gain the overexertion of the employees. Our true north will then be the dictates of our conscience and we will have to decide whether to obey them submissively or defy them to the last consequences….

The complete version, in pdf format, will be included in mid-December in the "Books" section of my website, it will be a "living" document until that date, in which I will collect the questions and comments received to publish them anonymously and enrich the narrative.

I look forward to your comments at the end!


You can read the previous chapters by clicking on them: Chapter 3, Chapter 2 and Chapter 1.


The sudden death


  • Years 2012 and beyond


The new year began with another very sad new. Carlos Menor, my faithful co-worker who, like me, had given the best years of his life to the company and, in particular, to the start up and growth of GDCA, had passed away.

I remember visiting him in his bed at the Sanatorium where he was and, upon seeing me, he sadly asked me:


"Did you see, Tony? We thought the company was ours and it wasn't. We were wrong", to which I replied, almost sobbing:

"Carlitos, if we had to do it all over again, wouldn't we do the same thing?", and he told me, with an attempt at a smile:

"Yes, Tony. We would do the same thing."


I think he left with the peace of mind of having followed the dictates of his heart, which was the same as mine, both carved with the sacred fire of what we lived in the Martinez Plant.


During the remaining of 2011 and the first half of 2012, five witnesses from my side and a couple on IBM's side declared in front of the court in charge of my file.

The first ones endorsed in great detail what had been stated so far, while the latter couldn’t contribute much in favor of the company.

At the end of the testimonies, my lawyer told me that, with the evidence provided by the witnesses and the seriousness of the overwhelming fact, if there were no new news, it was not illogical to asume that we would have a First Instance ruling in a matter of months.

We were beginning the third quarter of 2012.


In December of that year the long-awaited ruling came out, which was totally favorable to my claim and obliged IBM to compensate me with a substantial amount of money, unthinkable for me until the moment of the sad event.

As expected, the company appealed the ruling and the case was sent to a second instance court.

The result was expected in mid-2013 and the expectation was that it would ratify the previous ruling.


Thus, my lawyer and IBM's lawyer called for a new conciliation hearing to avoid a new adverse ruling for IBM.

I received a first offer from the company to be agreed by me and then a new one, with a much better amount, which I ended up accepting.

It represented several years of work and it had all been due to IBM’s clumsiness of not having wait two weeks in April 2011.

We signed the corresponding agreements, which closed the case, me with my money and IBM with an adverse ruling.

It had been two years and four months since the trial began.

The speed of the resolution was a clear demonstration of the forcefulness of my allegations.


From that moment on, sadly, several leaders and managers have followed my same path and have called me as a witness in their respective trials.

The number of times I have done so, with satisfaction, is already well over ten.


Meanwhile, in the GDCA the debacle had begun and it was happening on different fronts.


On one hand, subsequent events showed me that I had had the great and unprecedented privilege of starting a new approach, at least in Argentina, for the company to communicate to experienced professionals and middle managers that their services were being discontinued, without showing its face!!

They simply deactivated their badges to enter the buildings and when they called their managers from the entrance, the latter gave them the unfortunate news.

Those who made IBM really great, always stated in writing and whenever they could that respect for people and the best customer service were the two great pillars on which the company was built.

Those who experienced those sad moments were simply numbers of employees who were crossed off the list when they were terminated.


When I say this, not infrequently people try to refute me by saying that competition forces companies to act like this, that they cannot maintain the same attitude as in the past, that times have changed and that blah, blah, blah, blah and blah.

Let me tell you that they are all lies and I refer to the evidence.

IBM stayed true to the principles on which it was created and held a position of absolute leadership in the IT industry worldwide until the 1980s, when it began to modify them and then:

Oh, surprise!

It began to give up positions to its competitors, so that today they exceed its sales volumes.

And guess what?

Well, ..... again, another surprise!

Apple, Microsoft, Google and other companies that today reach or surpass IBM in the IT industry in the international order, or Globant, in the local order; not only keep the principles that IBM abandoned, but they encourage and amplify them, inviting their employees to creatively contribute new solutions for the market. They feel they are a fundamental part of the company and are proud to have been called upon to contribute them.

That's real teamwork and not looking at monthly expense lines to see where to cut!!

And believe me. This is not my invention. Just look at the numbers and trends on the Internet and see the phenomenon.


On the other hand, the directives to reduce the size of the GDCA to the smallest possible number and without spending a single dollar were successfully deployed.

Unbelievable!!

Subjecting to mistreatment those who had given up their best years of life to make the company great so that they would leave by their own free will, thus avoiding paying a few million dollars that were due to them for their just compensations and that, by a separate string, would go into the pockets of the New York executives for showing a better financial result at the time.

It all boiled down to squeezing people and making them feel more and more uncomfortable so that they would start looking for work in other companies.

I would never have accepted this objective if it had been proposed to me.

I then discovered that this must have been one of the real reasons why they had decided to get rid of me.

Obviously I could not destroy what I had just created!! Someone else could.


I had already lived through the last years of the Martinez Plant more than fifteen years ago and the difference with what was happening with our beloved Unit was abysmal.

While those who had to leave the Plant because their jobs had been terminated, received the corresponding compensation, which they were deeply grateful for; this time they received nothing and left, in search of another competitor that would recognize their skills more and consider their employees as true assets of the company.


GDCA had reached its peak with 4,500 people when I retired in April 2011 and from then on, sadly, its upward trend was drastically reversed and its slow death throes began through three simple mechanisms this was achieved:

- No new clients of the company were assigned to the GDCA.

- The person who left was not replaced (a policy known as full attrition).

- Someone made it posible efficiently


In just a very few years the 4,500 employees became just a little over 1,000 people!


Just as it had been impossible to foresee at the beginning of 2005 the spectacular growth of our Unit, the same phenomenon, but in reverse, was not in the calculations of the most pessimistic of those of us who were leading the Unit just 6 years later.

A company like IBM was not going to do that, but, that is exactly what it did!

Needless to say, the buildings leased by IBM were returned one by one to their owners, and new tenants began to occupy them shortly thereafter.

The 3,500 people who decided to leave the company due to the pressure and the lack of future, began to join Google, Microsoft, Oracle, HP, Globant and other local companies, which veiledly thanked IBM for all the time invested in their training, and then encouraged them to leave.

Something unprecedented in today's working world.


Some "GDCA graduate" professionals, I would say about 20, are also currently working in companies located in the USA, Australia, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Mexico, Costa Rica and Chile, among other countries.

I receive notes from many of them through social networks where, in general, they highlight two themes that they remember with longing:

The first is the atmosphere of friendship and collaboration that reigned in the GDCA, which motivated them to hold various meetings and celebrate parties outside working hours, among the various groups of friends that were created.

The second is the training they received, both technically and in the English language, as well as in the creation and functioning of real work teams.


The common denominator is that this has not happened since then in the companies where they are currently working.



  • Conclusions

During these last ten years I developed and continue to do it, diverse activities that fill me with satisfaction and intimate joy.

I can share with you that I helped my son in the company he created in Barcelona, dedicated to IT support for third sector organizations. I collaborated with NGOs in different roles: implementing an application that streamlines the delivery of clothes; evaluating and prioritizing organizations that receive funds; helping high school students to put together a business plan, etc. I started writing. I already have fourteen books of different genres published on Amazon ebooks, which can be downloaded for free on my website. My last adventure was this year, creating my blog and the Trazando Surcos project, with a clear social objective.

I try to give back, now that I can, part of what I received when I was young: a free Public University where I was able to finish my degree in Industrial Engineering.


When I reflect on the GDCA and with the coldness that time imposes, I rescue some conclusions that I’d like to share with you, people, many of whom have experienced firsthand what I have described, and can attest to its authenticity.


During those years I saw the passing of seven people, to whom I reported or with whom I was working, all of them very close to me and of my deepest esteem. They were all victims of a process that was triggered and finished in less than a year. All of them were part of the GDCA project, fully supporting it, despite the lack of attention from the Head Office, which generated conflicts and continuous frustrations. Were their backpacks overloaded?

Was it a coincidence? I have no way of proving that it was, or that it was not. However, i