Thread regarding State Farm Insurance layoffs

The leadership structure at State Farm Systems is bloated

Our managers are non-technical and many of them contribute nothing of value to the organization. They are pencil pushers, whose only job appears to be informing their charges of the latest corporate policies and then allowing other people to determine our raises and promotions.

Our architects (most of them) are paper architects. Those who had tech experience have generally lost it. They seem to be very good at playing politics, but not much else. Plus, they value strategy over tactics, but unfortunately have very little idea what strategy really is. They are selectively engaged with their teams and of questionable value when they are.

Directors and above are good at getting Systems into messes, again with limited technical experience.

In theory, the new condensed leadership structure is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, those implementing haven't a clue what they are doing, so probability of success remains extremely low.

Excellent post by .

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/Good point about all the VPs. The company is way too vertical. Too many useless layers of management. Too many people who don't do anything./

You make a good point as well. And an outsider looking in on all this mess might think that shrinking management could help fix the problem. And it could certainly help, theoretically --- unfortunately, due to the people who will still be in charge of things, it's going to remain a mess.

One benefit of the previous management model in Systems was that the rank and file were somewhat insulated from the ineptitude of the whims of the "paper architects" they work for -- the so-called leaders with zero technical or business skills whose primary skill-set is playing politics. Those clowns will still be in charge, only now they'll be directly evaluating the rank and file, determining when they're allowed to seek other opportunities, and so forth.

No more insulation from the stupidity.

In order for smaller teams to work, they need better leaders. I'm sorry, but it's true.

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Good point about all the VPs. The company is way too vertical. Too many useless layers of management. Too many people who don't do anything.

And so few of these leaders have any real idea what's going on. I know people who literally did zero work for over a year simply because their bosses had no idea what they were working on -- amazing but true.

I used to refer to one of my coworkers as being a "virtual employee," in the sense that he was virtually never there. This was back when the term "virtual team" was en vogue, maybe 11 years ago.

When management is too stretched out, they become disconnected. Accountability is lost. The rank and file become demotivated and disenfranchised. The top tier remains delusional.

That describes State Farm.

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Talk about bloated. There are over 200 people with word VP or Vice Pres in their title in the enterprise. In the words of Gordon Gekko, “Teldar Paper has 33 different vice presidents each earning over 200 thousand dollars a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can’t figure it out. One thing I do know is that our paper company lost 110 million dollars last year, and I’ll bet that half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these Vice Presidents.”

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/Majority of leaders at SF are so scared of having any bumps in their path that they seem like mindless corporate drones that follow policy more than trying to build and foster a healthy team./

Yep. Here's the litmus test: If you do something that annoys someone on another team whom your architect finds valuable for his/her career advancement, does your architect chastise you? Or does the architect err on the side of protecting his/her team? If the former, your architect is interested in all the wrong things.

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I had an architect who I lacked any respect for. This person would “lead” meetings, spew a little bit of corporate speak and then just drift off into space. Total lack of engagement with the teams, no real understanding of what the teams were doing, no real direction set after massive quarterly leadership meetings....a huge joke. Majority of leaders at SF are so scared of having any bumps in their path that they seem like mindless corporate drones that follow policy more than trying to build and foster a healthy team. Focus on the team that has the ideas and creativeness and motivation. FFS! One commenter earlier had the perfect name, “A Leader Who Stays in the Rear, Takes it in the Rear”! Perfect!

And the directors, wow. If a director does good leading another group in SF that has nothing to do with technology, maybe keep them there. Directors in Systems should have a clue about the technology...they should be visionary people. Glad I left the company who is overloaded wth morons. JFC.

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