Tuesday, August 14, 2007

[hewlett packard] dangerous place for a woman

Carly Fiorina, wrong woman in the wrong place at the wrong time

In this article, the references cannot be cited because they're classified information.

They come directly from people inside,concerned with the action at the time or else from the Wall Street Journal, Businessweek, Dow Jones ProQuest or Palo Alto Online.

Sorry to have to muddy the waters.

The issue

From The Catbird Seat, by James Thurber:

The aging [Mr. Fitweiler, head of F&S] had jumped to the conclusion there and then that this was a woman of singular attainments, equipped to bring out the best in him and in the firm.

A week later he had introduced [Mrs. Ulgine Barrows] into F & S as his special adviser. On that day confusion got its foot in the door.

After Miss Tyson, Mr. Brundage, and Mr. Bartlett had been fired and Mr. Munson had taken his hat and stalked out, mailing in his resignation later, old Roberts had been emboldened to speak to Mr. Fitweiler.

She had begun chipping at the cornices of the firm’s edifice and now she was swinging at the foundation stones with a pickaxe.

Mr. Martin stood up in his living room, still holding his milk glass. “Gentlemen of the jury,” he said to himself, “I demand the death penalty for this horrible person.”

The story

When Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard drafted the "HP" Way in 1957, it was said:

The HP Way is a subtle way, and that is why we have so much trouble describing it. It is basically a faith in people to use their discretion and to be sure along the way to make some mistakes as well as to make some contributions. In a way that, over time, generally will continue to take the company in the direction it wants to go — consistent with its basic underlying set of objectives.

The result was a culture thick management system, quite revolutionary for its time [as McDonalds was] and almost a product of the safe 50s and 60s in its scope. The theory was that profits would naturally accrue if the product was good and you had the process right:

You can't mess with the process. There's not a lot of flexibility in the way you use the process. The process has a very good track record and people don't like you to mess with it.

The trouble was that things changed in the 70s and HP had to get into some redeployment and layoffs which didn't sit at all well with employees and shareholders. Venturing into the computer field, not their core area of expertise, their overall tech-savviness saw profits accrue until they settled on the printer business as the mainstay.

Clouds gather

By the 80s, they were doing well but not brilliantly and the shake-ups and changes in direction had taken their toll on the HP Way. Enter Lew Platt, a real HP Way man, with a deep love for the company. He did all he could to modernize "The Way" and smooth differences - he was a consensus man. It was not enough in the face of new competition.

Although he built the company's sales from $16 billion to $47 billion in seven years as CEO, critics still labeled him soft and too determined to preserve the company's legendary H-P Way, with its concern for employees' welfare. He didn't inspire, they said, and he missed the Internet revolution.

Business has no conscience but it should at least have some common sense.

By this time, the new breed of female high-flyer was really getting off the ground and there was much talk at the time of "females in trousers" and it seemed the only way for a woman to make it in a male dominated corporate world was to get the score on the board.

Patricia Dunn, who took over from Carly Fiorina

Enter Carly Fiorina, described as:

Unshakable. Self-reliant. Comfortable in the spotlight. Fond of the dramatic gesture. Impervious to criticism. Passionate about the big picture. The kind of person who bounds from project to project, embracing change as a way of life.

Trouble arrives …



Carly's are known for the dramatic gesture.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Well, I followed your link at the end and it seems that she was lacking in "tact and compassion" - as a lot of women who make it to the top are - but you could also say that of men.

jmb said...

It seems to me being a CEO of either sex is fraught with danger these days. Many are going down ignominiously in the full spotlight of the press as their exploits are brought to light.
I did so want these women to succeed, but they too did themselves in and being female only added to the glee of many.

Virginia said...

Without the Compaq merger, which Carly push and got, HP would not be where it is today.