In Fortune's 101 Dumbest Moments of Business, we are reminded of Circuit City's classic moment in talent segmentation, which scores them #70 in the "dumb" countdown:
In a cost-cutting move, Circuit City lays off all sales associates paid 51 cents or more per hour above an "established pay range" - essentially firing 3,400 of its top performers in one fell swoop. Over the next eight months Circuit City's share price drops by almost 70%.
When we're doing workforce planning, and we are segmenting our workforce....we really do need to ask questions of data, and be sure that we understand what the real story behind it is if we act. No doubt the people who did the Circuit City layoff made a really impressive case for cost savings, including lots of consideration of how many people would not be affected (although clearly no though about how the segments they were assessing were connected to the business strategy!). If you see a trend (like certain people earning more than others), ask "why?". And when you are making a decision based on "efficiencies" you might have found in the data, explore the ramifications of the decision you're making, ensuring that you look for the answer the "Devil's Advocate" might give you. The numbers can tell many, many stories.
Still, looking back over the the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business for 2007 was a good giggle.