Maintaining a Cost-Conscious Business Plan

Question: How does Intel promote frugality?

Swope:    Well, it’s establishing goals, right, which is the way we do it in Intel is we do profit-sharing.  So, as we make more money, our employees make more money.  We have an employee bonus and we set goals for the corporation every year.  As we achieve more of those goals, we are able to, we have a variable pay structure so, again, another, right, excuse me, that employees make more money.  So, first of all, we share their success, right.  Second of all, people have to believe that it’s their company.  It’s not a [matter] that they go to work for your company; they go to work for their company.  If we are good enough, you know, in our work and the way we treat them for, it’s that if we treat them with the respect that they deserve, we give them the training they deserve, and in exchange we share our profits with them, then hopefully at least this is what’s worked out for us for our first 40 years.  They have responded in kind by being careful with expenses, right.  The other end of that spectrum is you have to audit, right, and you have to agree that you’ve got rules and compliance and all the mechanics of that and, you know, so, Intel is very good on, I think, hopefully, and our employees hopefully believe we’re very good at both ends in that.

Question: What is Intel’s strategy for cost-cutting while maintaining output?

Swope:    If you’re in 8 businesses and you have to cut 3 of the businesses, then your output in the 3 that you cut is not going to be the same.  If the topic is can we figure out intelligent ways to prune expenses such that the fundamental output of the corporation is at least minimumly affected, the answer is yes.  I think that’s called good management.  The other part of this is you have to know the timeframe.  We invest in process technology, meaning how small we can make a transistor, you know many, many years in advance.  We don’t vary that year to year.  We know where we have to go.  We understand it.  Good times or bad, we have to invest there or our fundamental mechanism of running our company changes.  So there are ways you can do with that or disaster, right, but I think you have to be pretty clear about what the timeframe is in those investments and I think that you have to continue to apply very prudent judgment about what is no longer just fundamentally essential.

Question: How do you decide to cut human resources?

Swope:    We had to restructure the company a few years ago and we went from approximately 100,000 employees to approximately 83,000, where we are right now.  That was incredibly painful.  And we did a lot of benchmarking.  We did a lot of work.  We hired in outside consultants, and we said, while we are still making money, we need to understand how it is we got into the organizational situation that we’re in and what are we going to do about it, and we re-structured at a time that I think people were surprised that we re-structured and we re-structured at the time that our profitability was going up.  That’s proven to be pretty lucky for us now and there are a lot of CEOs in the world that are both having to restructure their company and deal with cost-cutting and deal with the economic crisis all at the same time, and that we’ve been be lucky enough or I know, whatever, for some reason take your pick of luck or intelligence that we looked at.  I want to now talk about your question, but in that light, right?  Labor is usually not the number 1 cause, certainly not in a manufacture organization that has the billions of dollars in capital equipment that we have.  Our labor costs are actually pretty modest in comparison.  What one has to do is to keep them balanced.  Sometimes you have to do it with benchmarks.  Sometimes you do with your own efficiency operations.  Sometimes you do it as just a manner that you’re closing on location.  If you think about your workforce as your most valuable asset and it far and away outstrips anything, then if you cut it and you cut it arbitrarily, then you will lose the loyalty of everyone that’s left.  So, I’d say, if you have to cut it, you cut it and we’ve done that, but you do it in such a way that the employees that remain believe there was enough transparency and honesty and lack of duplicity in those decisions and they understood those decisions, such as they knew why you did it and they believe that the organization that was left was going to be healthier as a result.

Will Swope explains how Intel remains financially agile both by saving money and cutting staff.

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Politics & Current Affairs

Political division is nothing new. Throughout American history there have been numerous flare ups in which the political arena was more than just tense but incideniary. In a letter addressed to William Hamilton in 1800, Thomas Jefferson once lamented about how an emotional fervor had swept over the populace in regards to a certain political issue at the time. It disturbed him greatly to see how these political issues seemed to seep into every area of life and even affect people's interpersonal relationships. At one point in the letter he states:

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."

Today, we Americans find ourselves in a similar situation, with our political environment even more splintered due to a number of factors. The advent of mass digital media, siloed identity-driven political groups, and a societal lack of understanding of basic discursive fundamentals all contribute to the problem.

Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.

The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?

Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression

In a 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey by Cato, it was found that 71% of Americans believe that political correctness had silenced important discussions necessary to our society. Many have pointed to draconian university policies regarding political correctness as a contributing factor to this phenomenon.

It's a great irony that, colleges, once true bastions of free-speech, counterculture and progressiveness, have now devolved into reactionary tribal politics.

Many years ago, one could count on the fact that universities would be the first places where you could espouse and debate any controversial idea without consequence. The decline of staple subjects that deal with the wisdom of the ancients, historical reference points, and civic discourse could be to blame for this exaggerated partisanship boiling on campuses.

Young people seeking an education are given a disservice when fed biased ideology, even if such ideology is presented with the best of intentions. Politics are but one small sliver for society and the human condition at large. Universities would do well to instead teach the principles of healthy discourse and engagement across the ideological spectrum.

The fundamentals of logic, debate and the rich artistic heritage of western civilization need to be the central focus of an education. They help to create a well-rounded citizen that can deal with controversial political issues.

It has been found that in the abstract, college students generally support and endorse the first amendment, but there's a catch when it comes to actually practicing it. This was explored in a Gallup survey titled: Free Expression on Campus: What college students think about First amendment issues.

In their findings the authors state:

"The vast majority say free speech is important to democracy and favor an open learning environment that promotes the airing of a wide variety of ideas. However, the actions of some students in recent years — from milder actions such as claiming to be threatened by messages written in chalk promoting Trump's candidacy to the most extreme acts of engaging in violence to stop attempted speeches — raise issues of just how committed college students are to
upholding First Amendment ideals.

Most college students do not condone more aggressive actions to squelch speech, like violence and shouting down speakers, although there are some who do. However, students do support many policies or actions that place limits on speech, including free speech zones, speech codes and campus prohibitions on hate speech, suggesting that their commitment to free speech has limits. As one example, barely a majority think handing out literature on controversial issues is "always acceptable."

With this in mind, the problems seen on college campuses are also being seen on a whole through other pockets of society and regular everyday civic discourse. Look no further than the dreaded and cliche prospect of political discussion at Thanksgiving dinner.

Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner

As a result of this increased tribalization of views, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to engage in polite conversation with people possessing opposing viewpoints. The authors of a recent Hidden Tribes study broke down the political "tribes" in which many find themselves in:

  • Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
  • Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
  • Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
  • Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
  • Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
  • Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
  • Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,

Understanding these different viewpoints and the hidden tribes we may belong to will be essential in having conversations with those we disagree with. This might just come to a head when it's Thanksgiving and you have a mix of many different personalities, ages, and viewpoints.

It's interesting to note the authors found that:

"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."

You'll find that depending on what group you identify with, that nearly 100 percent of the time you'll believe in the same way the rest of your group constituents do.

Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:

  • 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
  • 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
  • 51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people's preferred gender pronouns.
  • 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
  • 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
  • 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.

Understanding the fact that tribal membership indicates what you believe, can help you return to the fundamentals for proper political engagement

Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:

  • Avoid logical fallacies. Essentially at the core, a logical fallacy is anything that detracts from the debate and seeks to attack the person rather than the idea and stray from the topic at hand.
  • Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
  • Have the idea that there is nothing out of bounds for inquiry or conversation once you get down to an even stronger or new perspective of whatever you were discussing.
  • Keep in mind the maxim of : Do not listen with the intent to reply. But with the intent to understand.
  • We're not trying to proselytize nor shout others down with our rhetoric, but come to understand one another again.
  • If we're tied too closely to some in-group we no longer become an individual but a clone of someone else's ideology.

Civic discourse in the divisive age

Debate and civic discourse is inherently messy. Add into the mix an ignorance of history, rabid politicization and debased political discourse, you can see that it will be very difficult in mending this discursive staple of a functional civilization.

There is still hope that this great divide can be mended, because it has to be. The Hidden Tribes authors at one point state:

"In the era of social media and partisan news outlets, America's differences have become
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.

Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."

We need to start teaching people how to approach subjects from less of an emotional or baseless educational bias or identity, especially in the event that the subject matter could be construed to be controversial or uncomfortable.

This will be the beginning of a new era of understanding, inclusion and the defeat of regressive philosophies that threaten the core of our nation and civilization.