Reconfiguring

Earlier this week, our department announced a significant reorganization:  Five offices will be reconfigured as large-city hubs, and twenty-two will be reconfigured as (smaller) consolidated offices.  The larger shops will have longer hours and Saturday service, and for the first time we’ll be accepting credit card payments from our walk-in customers (we already accept cards in web and other transactions).  Some will offer services which have previously only been provided at our central office, and some of the department’s more specialized external operations will be part of the consolidation. One price for these changes is that twenty offices, net, will be closed (or consolidated, if you prefer), and others–almost certainly including the reconfigured operations–will be moved.

Although the department has internal reorganizations regularly, this is the first major reconfiguration of the external operation during my career.  Said differently, this is a strategic move in an area where we’ve usually made tactical adjustments.  It’s going to be an interesting year.  I expect to see some modifications to the plan as the politics play out, but things will likely shape up pretty much as announced.  Since my responsibilities are primarily internal, I’ll mostly be a spectator.

A few notes:

  • The newspapers’ responses reflect geography and local social realities.  Detroit coverage is generally favorable, while outstate coverage is tentative–except in northern Michigan, where consolidation always looks like a service cut, even if the service actually improves at the surviving locations.  The U.P. isn’t exactly a wilderness, but settlements are generally small, and far between.
  • Internally, the message is opportunity.  No jobs will be cut; the larger office staffs will create new management positions and new promotion paths.
  • The papers are not following the department’s spelling conventions for the renamed operations.

By the way, our department’s press office provides a fine clipping service.  Every day’s mail brings excellent coverage of the day’s issues, whether favorable or not, and without an obvious political slant.