OK, so I can agree that getting rid of some dead weight in a huge company like Intel is sometimes necessary, but the problem with ACT is that it didn't get rid of dead weight. I am a front line manager, so let me give you a little insight into what happened from manager perspective:
In the last Focal, managers were forced to find people who'd get SSL 4. So they did. These people were not necessarily the worst people in the teams. Often, they were simply people who did not perform well in the last year only. Often, managers just picked someone and gave them a higher raise to compensate for the lower SSL. In some cases, team members even agreed to get a lower SSL because they preferred a higher raise. All of this happened, because nobody knew that SSL 4 would imply getting an ISP. So a lot of people got ISPs who didn't deserve it. And a lot of people who deserved ISPs didn't get one.
Same with VSPs. Those were given mostly to people who didn't get EE ratings for 3+ years. Well, most team managers nowadays have development plans for their teams, because of restricted raise/rating/promotion possibilities. If you have a team of 10 people, you can give two EEs per year - perhaps three if you are lucky. So managers know exactly whom to give which rating in which year to get them promoted. They are not only giving performance-based ratings but also strategic ratings. In my team, I gave an EE rating to one team member, because he had an EE two years ago, so I had to give him an EE this year to promote him (he was overdue, really). Otherwise, the old EE would have been lost (you need two EEs in three years to promote people). So I did not give an EE to another team member who really would have deserved it, but instead I used my promo budget to give him a higher raise (which made him happy) and marked him as a definite candidate for EE next year. But now he got a VSP because of that and left. He wasn't dead weight. He was essential for my team, for our next product and for our key customers. But the VSP made him feel unwanted, no matter how much I begged him to stay. If I had been given a choice, I would have picked another guy to remove from the team.
Why are the managers not given a choice? Because Intel doesn't trust the front line managers to make managerial decisions. There's all this talk about how we are leaders. But we're only asked to be leaders after the fact, to clean up the mistakes made by upper management. Now we're asked to act like leaders and bring the teams back on their feet after ACT. But we were not allowed to be leaders during ACT by actually picking the real low performers. We are not allowed to act like leaders in Focal, because we're given highly restricted budgets for raises and SSL which force us to play silly games with the raises, SSLs and promotions which in turn gets the wrong people fired.
It's not like Intel really wants us to be leaders. We front line managers get zero trainings, except for some nebulous leadership nonsense that has no connection to Intel reality. But we don't get trainings about how to properly identify and deal with low performers, how to create a healthy fluctuation that keeps the company healthy, and so on. Yes, I am sorry to say it, but your are being led by managers who are flying by the seats of their pants and who are being led by managers who blindly execute whatever they are told and who in turn are being led by managers who think every team, no matter how small, can be rated on a bell curve - or that they have to be rated on a bell curve, because front line managers can't make managerial decisions.
So no, don't think that ACT removed deadwood. It removed 12,000 people - many of them important to the future of the company. It did so because of a lack of trust in front line management - which is to some extent justified because Intel doesn't care about empowering and educating front line management. We front line managers are useless idiots. Or at least we're being treated like ones. Doesn't matter, the end result is the same.
I am now looking for a new job, because I am sick of not being trusted to do my current one. I am sick of telling people in Focal that "successful" is a good rating and then having to admit that it was a lie. I am sick of being asked to "lead" only when it's time to clean up messes I did not create. I am sick of being forced to give ratings that may or may not cause my team members to get fired. I am sick of being told to do strict performance management, while the manager four levels above me didn't have anyone from his staff removed, indicating to me that nobody at that level got ISPs or VSPs - which looks like a case of zero performance management to me.
I didn't get a VSP, sadly. I asked my boss to give me one and he refused. He openly told me he asked the same from his boss and didn't get one either. Misery likes company, I guess. So I will go without the package. Got my fifth interview tomorrow. Looking great so far. Giving up my RSUs could imply an unpleasant pay cut, but right now, I just want out.
Sorry for the long post, but I had to vent. ;-)