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Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby

Michael Maccoby is an anthropologist and psychoanalyst globally recognized as an expert on leadership. He is the author of The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow.

Undermining the 'HP Way'

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?

HP was founded by leaders who built strong bonds of trust with their employees. The founders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard articulated and practiced a clear philosophy they called The HP Way. Ethics were a given and disrespect among employees was not tolerated. To strengthen trust and loyalty, HP did not lay off employees in downturns of business but had everyone take time off and a corresponding cut in salary. Trust and a strong value of excellence supported a collaborative culture that became a model for Silicon Valley.

The HP values have been undermined and frayed by some of the leaders who followed Bill and Dave. Mark Hurd promised to revitalize the HP Way. His actions, hiding expenses to engage in a questionable relationship that does not pass the smell test, undermine the trust essential for a company's sustainable success.

Hurd was widely admired, especially by HP shareholders, for cutting costs and increasing revenues through acquisitions. However, HP's future depends on a leadership team that strengthens collaboration and innovation, that can articulate and practice a version of the HP Way for a global market.

By Michael Maccoby

 |  August 10, 2010; 9:46 AM ET
Category:  CEOs , Congressional leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Board acted 'admirably' to remove Mark Hurd | Next: No choice but to remove Hurd


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If Bill and Dave didn't have layoffs in downturns, that is something Mark didn't follow. Since purchasing EDS, HP has had RIFs of 25,000 and 9600 (the latter still in progress). That is a lot of good people tossed aside. That vast majority or possibly ALL of these RIFs were American based jobs. Currently there is substantial replacement hiring in what used to be called 3rd world countries. There is no love in HP upper management of their American based employees. Oh, yes, AND there was a pay cut of 5% last year and many thousands more were deemed over-paid and had substantially higher cuts. This is public knowledge and has been told by the Corporate wonder-boy himself. His routine quarterly speeches spoke of HP as a great place to work and that he had the desire to retain good employees, while the primary goal was to rid the company of the highly skilled people who were paid fairly and replace them with moderately to poorly skilled people whose english skills were marginal to poor, but hey, they are cheap. End result, a number of the smart and skilled people left on their own. But, Wall Street and the stockholders have been happy. Who knows, maybe someday corporate HQ will be in Mubai or Pune or Jakarta. I'm not so sure that de-Americanizing HP was the primary plan when Bill and Dave were here, but it is priority #1 now.

Posted by: nototresspassers | August 15, 2010 3:00 PM
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I am amazed this happened within HP. I thought all their upper echelon "people" were gay. I know a BUNCH of them are gay.

Posted by: cccourt | August 10, 2010 11:06 AM
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