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Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

Mark Hurd exits speaks for itself

Q: In forcing out its successful chief executive, Mark Hurd, did Hewlett-Packard directors over-react to what, given his overall compensation, appears to be a modest abuse of his expense account? Or did the board under-react by allowing Hurd to resign with his full contracted severance package rather than firing him for cause?

In announcing his resignation as CEO of Hewlett Packard, Mark Hurd said "There were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect, and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career.' I have no way of knowing who wrote and approved this statement, nor whether the last phrase is true. But as an observer of how difficult situations are discussed publicly, I can say that Mark Hurd's statement is an impressive model.

There is no attempt to wriggle out of the accusations, nor to spread blame (e.g. on the press). And, importantly, Hurd praises a company which, even after the death of its founders and the unhappy tenure of Carly Fiorina, still occupies a privileged, positive niche among major international corporations. In the past, when someone said that he or she worked for HP, it meant something special. The speed and manner of Hurd's resignation increases the likelihood that working for HP will continue to mean something special. Redeeming that likelihood is the challenge for the next leadership, thousands of supporting employees, and, especially, the Board.

By Howard Gardner

 |  August 9, 2010; 5:16 PM ET
Category:  CEOs , Corporate leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: HP needs a leader who is a role model | Next: Obama's new airline law: Safety loopholes


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The author and the posters mention: the HP brand; stakeholders; shareholders; the board; management team; grow market share; demoralised workforce; ethical standards; reduce cost; statement is an impressive model.

What I want to know is, why can't HP make photo printers the quality of Epson or Canon? Cut the BS and the PC. When is HP going to make products the quality of their competitors?

Posted by: llrllr1 | August 10, 2010 7:58 PM
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Mark Hurd leaves behind a battered and very demoralised workforce, and a significantly weaker skills base on which to build future success.

Given that any lesser employee in any company would have been fired without compensation and most likely prosecuted; and given that he could not live up to the ethical standards he and the board set; and given that HP is trying to reduce costs, the question has to be asked why is he entitled to his severance package.

This is an absolute disgrace.

Posted by: clairewallace-watson | August 10, 2010 10:20 AM
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This is one of the worst business decisions ever made by any board for its shareholders. As a very long-term stakeholder of HP, I vote we remove the entire board and reinstate Mark Hurd (who, as I am led to believe, had done nothing inappropriate). Mark Hurd built an incredible management team that knows how to invest wisely, execute to beat the plan and grow market share. Now what happens? Will the team stay in place? Will they begin infighting for the top spot? Who will stay and who will jump ship when the new leader is decided by this weak board? The whole situation is a nightmare! Bring back Mark Hurd and quickly.

Posted by: LeeJG | August 10, 2010 9:56 AM
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The forthright way in which this was handled by HP's board and by Mark Hurd sends a powerful message to HP's value creating network of stakeholders: 'This is our standard for performance.' The HP brand was held harmless, and now new leadership has the opportunity to maintain and build HP's brand integrity. A classic and refreshing example of how to handle this type of situation.

Posted by: ronstrauss | August 10, 2010 9:23 AM
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Posted by: Sam2kwel | August 10, 2010 9:13 AM
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