One of the most interesting parts about yesterdays earning call and fiscal stats was that RIM announced a “Cost Optimization Program” that spells bad news for some of RIM’s 17,000+ employees. Cost Optimization according to RIM will involve streamlining operations across RIM and will include a headcount reduction. While reading what RIM meant by this I could not help but think of a certain department at RIM that I always love to hate. Read RIMs goals for the Cost Optimization Program and tell me what you think:
- Streamline operations across RIM
- Taking out redundancies
- Reallocation of resources to focus on high growth opportunities and strategic objectives
- Accelerate new product introductions
- Headcount reduction based on these changes
I have been hearing from contacts at RIM for awhile now that this sort of headcount reduction was in the cards simply to trim the non-performing departments. The thing is that every time I read that list of goals for RIM I can think of one department at RIM is notorious for running counter to all of those goals. I am sure by now you realize I mean RIM’s legal department.
While I concede that RIM’s NTP $612 million settlement was a setback it really set RIM on the wrong path. I have not heard of one project or initiative at RIM that was not held up in some way by RIM legal. When you hear RIM employees talk about the bureaucracy and red tape for a product launch or service update once again we usually have RIM legal to thank.
That makes me wonder if maybe the first department RIM should “Streamline” is their overeager legal department. Sometimes I think that department gets paid by the word to write disclaimers and user agreements in every language. I am not trying to advocate these people losing their jobs or say that all of RIM legal is expendable but that is definitely in the top three in need of streamlining. RIM seems to have three classes of lawyers. The CYA (Cover Your Ass), patent application, and litigation defense. I understand the latter two but they really need to break out of the CYA model. Its one thing to protect the company but maybe they would be better off teaching the lawyers how to develop BlackBerry apps… to accelerate new product introductions.