June 01, 2006
Sun: First thing we do, let's fire all the lawyers

Today's big news story is that Sun will lay off 5,000 employees -- 13% of its workforce. My advice to Sun: start with the lawyers.

Sun's controlled by their lawyers. Paralyzed by their lawyers. At Sun you don't ask the legal team for advice, you ask for permission. If a lawyer says no, you don't get to proceed.

Well that's not entirely true. If you're a Sun VP or higher, you can overrule the lawyers and decide that the business benefit is worth the legal risk. If you're a director on down, any lawyer trumps you. You may have a brilliant strategic plan, a sure-fire way to make gobs of money, but if it involves any legal risk, the only way you're going to proceed is to convince your VP to act on your behalf with the lawyers.

It's painful to think about the amount of time Sun engineers and directors waste in dealing with their own lawyers and trying to convince their VPs to call off the legal guard dogs. If Sun has to let 5,000 people go to trim costs, I predict they could actually accomplish more, be far more innovative, and stun the world again if the majority of those 5,000 were their lawyers.

Posted by Jason Hunter at June 01, 2006 12:22 PM
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