101 Dumbest Moments in Business
Business 2.0 (CNNMoney.com) does an annual roundup of some of the year's most appalling business stories, and the 2007 edition is out (101 Dumbest Moments in Business). There are the usual suspects: Wal-Mart gets its licks for a few boners, including the Edelman blog fiasco; Disney's attempt to restrain a bereaved family from etching the image of Winnie-the-Pooh on their child's headstone; Nardelli's swag bag separation agreement from Home Depot; etc.
One that I'd missed the first time around noted that the bodies of a couple who pioneered the cryonics movement - unclear how much of a movement it ever became, other than for Ted Williams head - had thawed out due to a freezer malfunction.
There were a lot of good bits on lay-offs that are worth a look. Some of the best:
Northwest Airlines gave laid off employees a booklet entitled "101 Ways to Save Money."
The advice includes dumpster diving ("Don't be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash"), making your own baby food, shredding old newspapers for use as cat litter, and taking walks in the woods as a low-cost dating alternative.
When a 5 months pregnant colleague was laid off at one company I worked for, and protested that she wouldn't be able to find a new job in her condition, she was advised to wear baggy clothing to an interview and disguise her pregnancy.
Another one they picked up on was the Radio Shack lay-off via e-mail (which I had written about in one of my initial posts last September). Just think, it an employee had their spam filter turned on, they might have missed out on learning they were being pink slipped!
National Semiconductor got dinged for demanding that laid off employees give back the iPods they'd been given the month before as a 'morale booster'. (National Semi made the chips in the 30 gig iPods.) What next? Demanding that your laidoff folks give back the logo t-shirts, baseball caps, and tote bags?
Bank of America offered some laid off tech support workers a severance package - on the condition that they train their Indian replacements.
My personal favorite - personally experienced - dumb lay-off story (or one of them: I have quite a few) happened when I worked at Genuity. The day after a major (10%) lay-off, we had a company all-hands meeting via teleconferencing. Someone asked the president whether the lay-offs were over. He answered was along the lines that, as far as he knew, no one had been laid off. (This the day after 1000 people or so had been frog-marched out of the company.) The next day, we got an odd little follow-up e-mail in which the president claimed that of course he knew that there had been a lay-off, it was just that, while the employees were on severance, they were still "with us in spirit."
(Note of thanks to my sister Trish for cluing me in on the Business 2.0 "Dumbest" story.)