Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It's not our fault! Those mean old men did it to us!

I'm just waiting for the feminists to jump on this bandwagon:

An old-boy network at Hewlett-Packard contributed to the legal troubles of former Chairman Patricia Dunn and undermined the leadership of former CEO Carly Fiorina, the women suggested Sunday on national TV.

In separate interviews on the CBS television news program "60 Minutes," both Dunn and Fiorina say while each was still working for HP, former board directors Tom Perkins and George Keyworth plotted against them.

"Clearly they were aligned in how they thought I should reorganize the business," Fiorina, who was ousted as HP's CEO in 2005, told reporter Lesley Stahl. "But these were people that, for all their gifts and all their accomplishments, didn't understand what running an $85 billion company is all about."

Tom Perkins "didn't understand what running an $85 billion company is all about"? Spare me the drama, queen. Tom Perkins of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers? Just spare me.

Dunn said that Perkins has a vendetta against her for disclosing to the board the source of the leak: [George] Keyworth, a friend of Perkins.

And I suppose that her actions in pursuit of the leak, which have cost HP some serious market cap and bad press, had nothing to do with it. Perkins may have been PO'd, but the guy isn't that stupid. If anything, I would suspect he was PO'd at his friend, not because of him. After all, Perkins got Keyworth the job--and Keyworth's actions made Perkins look bad.

The root of the problem is that both of these women were the wrong person for the job. Fiorina was, as far as the board was concerned, going in the wrong direction and harming the company. Dunn exhibited a serious case of poor judgment, which is not a good thing in a Chairman of the Board.

Both of them made poor decisions that cost them their jobs, but rather than own up to it, they want to make it someone else's fault. That's something they have in common with a lot of failed CxOs of both sexes.

The kicker is what this entire little exercise in Corporate Ethics (Lack Thereof) is all about. As Ephraim Schwartz points out in his Infoworld column, the leaks were about whether HP would pursue a direct sales strategy (selling directly to the customer, a al Dell) or an indirect strategy (selling through resellers and VARs). This "discussion" has apparently been going on at HP for over a decade.

HP seems fated to be yet another in a long line of companies that have eventually failed once the founders are no longer in control. That's a shame, because at one time, it was a damn fine company.

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