back to article Red Hat tries on a McKinsey cap in quest to streamline techies' jobs

Mutterings of alarm are emerging from the cloisters of Red Hat after the world's largest management consultancy was hired to help the IBM subsidiary focus engineers on their highest-value work. Red Hat confirmed the partnership with McKinsey & Company to The Reg, sharing this extract from an email from CTO Chris Wright to the …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Be prepared to...

    exchange that RedHat (non MAGA) for a pink slip very soon.

    I've Been Mugged will soon apply to all inside the IBM redHat division

  2. Anonymous Cowpilot

    McKinsey don't understand development

    The fact McKinsey think that AI makes developers 10x more productive and will lead to developers being jobless within 5 years tells you all you need to know about their understanding of software development.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: McKinsey don't understand development

      but they get clevar peepal in from univercity and what not to be thunkers. Personally I have had two interactions with McKinsey people (one was the same methodology but not technically McKinsey) in business and both were a complete and utter shitshow.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: McKinsey don't understand development

      But they are never brought in to help software development, only "shareholder value".

      In the short term.

    3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: McKinsey don't understand development

      All you need to know about McKinsey:

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: McKinsey don't understand development

      McKinsey understands NOTHING, except how to grift corporate punters.

      They are not, and never have been, been useful in any way. They are the OG useless consultants.

  3. tfewster

    identify and remove mundane tasks

    Did they try asking the engineers before spending millions on CONsultants (A portmanteau of "con" and "insult")

    1. seven of five

      Re: identify and remove mundane tasks

      There is a Dilbert out there where Ratbert says so - I like to con people and I like to insult - that makes me a consultant, doesn't it?

    2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: identify and remove mundane tasks - translation

      "This project will help us to identify and remove mundane tasks that drain your energy so that you can focus on the most engaging and highest value work"

      Translation into real world speak:

      "We are going to squeeze you dry."

      Not a joke. It is those 'mundane tasks' that you allow you to relax and recuperate from the intellectual effort of doing the 'engaging and highest value work'. After a hard day's thinking deeply it is often rather nice to complete a task which is easy and I can do to relax. FI those tasks are taken away from people (the workers who actually make what the company produces for customers) then they will burn out. Of course that is no McKinsey's problem (yet, but they'll come back in a few years to 'fix it' for you).

      1. keithpeter Silver badge

        Re: identify and remove mundane tasks - translation


        I take your point entirely, but, in my limited experience, there is another issue: The Ramp.

        The Ramp starts easy and you can solve small problems and gain experience with the basic tools of the trade and with the local tacit knowledge - the stuff that isn't written down anywhere. Then as the gradient becomes steeper you can apply lessons gained with confidence to more complex problems and projects with multiple variables that must be juggled. Finally your accumulated experience together with your familiarity with the gritty mundane detail enables you to identify new areas of application - which might require considerable extension of existing methods.

        So progressing up The Ramp increases confidence (and value) at each stage. You gain a reputation for delivering for colleagues and customers. You are a known quantity. Your reputation allows you to propose radical change and be taken seriously.

        But what happens if you try to cut out the first couple of phases? You have to scale a cliff face. You have to try to deal with multi-factorial problems/projects that involve a number of stakeholders without any previous performance and without an acquired reputation. Much harder.

        Icon: Just returned from a holiday in a city with 2000 years of history

        1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

          Re: identify and remove mundane tasks - translation

          So basically what you are saying is that this is a 'short term profitability' measure that will inevitably cause severe problems in a few years time? The current expert staff will continue as they have been, but recruitment will be difficult to impossible the more effective the removal of 'mundane tasks' from the work environment is. So in in a few years time they will 'need' some consultancy again to sort out the fine mess they've gotten themselves into?

  4. frankster

    As if McKinsey can teach IBM about softeare

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Circling the toilet

    1. ecofeco Silver badge


      Oh wait. Everyone here on El Reg.

  6. Stu J


    Anybody worth their salt working for an organisation that brings the likes of McKinsey in should immediately polish up their CV/Resume and start looking for alternative work. Either job cuts or outsourcing (or both) are coming, or organisational culture is about to go down the toilet. Either way it's not going to be pretty...

    Funny how these management consultancies never suggest removing the layer of management that brought them in, which is probably what's actually required.

    1. lamp

      Re: Clueless

      Big Blue must think very little of their employees if it thinks they can't see what's coming...

      1. abend0c4 Silver badge

        Re: Clueless

        Exercises of this sort are often conducted in the hope and expectation that employees will indeed see what's coming and achieve the desired outcome of their own volition and at their own cost.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Clueless

        My guess is IBM doesn't think about their employees at all.

        Other than their mere existence being a line item on the budget to be depreciated, and eventually written-off entirely.

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Clueless

          No need to guess. 40 years of documentation proves it.

  7. An_Old_Dog Silver badge


    1. Our company/division/department is going to be doing the Great Things I commanded it to do.

    2. To help achieve that, we're going to be doing it with fewer people than ever before! ("Focusing company resources" == "paying salaries for a lot fewer of you")

    3. We're going to make your jobs better by getting rid of mundane time-wasters you're currently burdened with -- such as:

    3a. All-Hands Meetings where executives fling mindless, verbal shit at you, throw any feedback you give us into /dev/null, as well as targetting you for an R.A. since you had the timerity/stupidity to speak up when we said we wanted your feedback. (Well, no, we're keeping those.)

    3b. Employee surveys where we throw any feedback you give us into /dev/null, as well as targetting you for an R.A. since you had the timerity/stupidity to write something down when we wrote we wanted your feedback. (Well, no, we're keeping those, too.)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do you have any feedback you would like to give that wasn't covered in the above questions:

    Yes, those clueless morons in suits who turned up last week are fucking annoying and keep interrupting my ability to work, by asking me questions aimed at justifying firing everyone and replacing us with cheaper unskilled labour. Can you ask them to kindly fuck off please?

    Also, is this feedback from really anonymous like it says? I note that I had to log in to answer the form, after receiving a notification that I hadn't filled it out yet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >Also, is this feedback from really anonymous like it says? I note that I had to log in to answer the form, after receiving a notification that I hadn't filled it out yet.

      If they can drill down deep enough to get the number of people down like say a department of 10 or less, then if there are any questions like age, sex etc in it then it soon becomes easy to see who said what

  9. tiggity Silver badge


    "This project will help us to identify and remove mundane tasks that drain your energy so that you can focus on the most engaging and highest value work – to make your job better."

    The "most engaging" tasks are typically complex and demand a lot of mental effort & can be very draining after a few hours.

    Mundane tasks (assuming mundane === easy) can actually be good as they give your brain a "cool down", where its not working at 100%, if you are on continual 100% mental effort work it's a path to burnout.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dubious

      While this is all true enough, it's likely not how IBM/RedHat are defining "mundane".

      The key here is "highest value work", which is to say: most profitable for the big wheels.

      The employees being "engaged" or having their "energy drained" is just window dressing talk; in this context "mundane" simply means "less likely to pad our fat executive bonuses".

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Dubious

      That's a really odd thing for them to say because my brief stint with IBM was nothing BUT mundane, useless tasks. And of course pointed questions about why I wasn't getting my real job done. Nor someone else's.

      Which was the last straw.

  10. gbiz

    BITD ...

    they possibly were the worlds best open source engineering organisation. It wasn't by chance they got 80+% share of the enterprise Linux market. But back then the C-level & senior management, had a clue. (Aside from sales. They were a bunch of clueless tw@s even then)

    Chris Wright has been at RH long enough to remember the old internal memo-list maillist, before management split it into friday-list to stop people openly flaming dumb management decisions. Before coming out with shite like that he should ask himself what reaction it would have got on there.

  11. Golgafrinch

    Oh goodness gracious me

    McKinsey, Bain, and BCG are well-known as the Dark Triad (try and find a single 'success story' among their 'achievements'. Below that it's "Send in the clowns" i.e. EY, PwC, (I stop here, because the list is too long). They're all doing alright for themselves, though.

  12. rjmx

    "my goal is to have Global Engineering recognized as the world's greatest open-source software engineering organization."

    The guy responsible for Gnome can say that with a straight face?

  13. ecofeco Silver badge


    .. they're boned.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get out now!

    If they need McKinsey (who have no clue about IT or software) to tell RH managers how to make things "more efficient" then either the current managers have no clue and shouldn't be in their jobs OR they're looking for someone else to recommend large layoffs so management can plead ignorance and save face.

    Mark my words. Let's revisit this in 12 months.

    Then again, perhaps McKinsey will recommend calling in KKR to load up the place with debt so that "value can be maximised" for a healthy profit before it all collapses and sold at fire sale prices, again with mass layoffs.

  15. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    Closed source

    The mundane work is maintaining repos of open source software. These types will simply assume they can just take ownership of it all. Expect requests for licence fees for all rpm-based distros.

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