Last week, I prepared to cut down a tree in our summer garden in South France. It was a large one; an old oak of close to 30 meters tall and with hundreds of wide branches. It wasn’t fun and quite frankly, I didn’t enjoy doing it but it had to be done. The wide branches were just hindering too much of the priceless sunbeams in the hilly garden.
Last week, I prepared to close down a factory in a town in South France. It was an old plant and most of the buildings were antiquated. It employed hundreds of staff. It wasn’t fun and quite frankly, I didn’t enjoy doing it but it had to be done. The bad state of the plant was hindering our productivity targets; it was just consuming too much of our priceless financial resources.
At only twenty meters from the old tree is a brand new and expensive garden shed where I have a small office and lab to study the local fauna. That of course had to be safeguarded and should remain untouched. So I got a specialist in to advise me on cutting the tree. His key task was to ensure we had all approvals from the local authorities but mainly also to keep me happy and secured that the garden shed would not be demolished.
At only twenty meters from the old plant, we have a brand new research centre –employing another 70 people. This part is managed by Headquarters. It of course was not impacted and should remain untouched. So I got a consultant in to advise me on the plant closure. Her key task was to ensure all stakeholder management and to make sure any social actions would not impact the research centre.
The tree cutting specialist had got approval from the local mayor and would tomorrow do the job in half an hour; an easy job. But I insisted taking up my own responsibilities and I would bring down the old friend myself. So he started making calculations, checked and double checked directions. He also drafted a report on what to do once the giant was down, how to best cut the large branches, etc.
The employee relations consultant had spoken to Head Office and also confidentially to the local mayor. She suggested that she would announce the closure tomorrow to all staff; for her a piece of cake. But I insisted taking up my own responsibilities and decided that I would talk to the affected people. So she drafted a report on do’s and don’t do’s, a quick critical path and the text for the announcements.
Today, I killed the giant oak. The colossus is down and won’t produce any future single acorn. The garden shed remained untouched. What has to be done has to be done.
Today, I announced the closure. All factory staff went on strike; they won’t produce any future single unit. Also all researchers stopped working. But –even in France-, what has to be done has to be done.