Kudos to HP CEO Mark Hurd for dignity to step down from his post

August 7, 2010 – 6:52 am

Yesterday (Friday) late afternoon, HP announced (or read here) that their CEO Mark Hurd was resigning due to improprieties uncovered during an internal investigation.

HP is far from being alone in the corporate world involving investigations, lawsuits by governments or allegations of bribes and impropriety.

However what stands out is that of the CEO stepping down.

While not unique, after all remember the former CA CEO Sanjay Kumar who was locked up, or former Brocade CEO Greg Reyes now stepping into new government provided accommodations due to illegal activities, not to mention those from Enron among others. Granted in those situations there were legal ramifications outside of the companies prompting the courts to get involved, something that looks like for now is not the case at HP. However, having the courts get involved with corporate activity is almost becoming a pattern of how business is done. For example, there is a whos who list (e.g.Cisco, Dell, EMC, IBM, Intel, or Oracle among others) of IT companies involved in (or recently settled) various government or financial dealing cases associated with bribes, kickbacks or other business improprieties reminiscent of Rodney Dangerfield character Thornton Melon explaining how business is conducted in the real world during Dr Phillip Barbay business class in Back to School.

Lets get back to and focus on the individual, that is Mr Hurd and what I think is something rare these days. That is a CEO or leader of a company or organization seriously taking responsibility for their actions or those that they are responsible for instead of lip service and spin doctoring.

I do not know whether Mr Hurd decided on his own or it was suggested to him that he step down from his post. However what I do know simply based on the story that has been put out by HP is that Mr Hurd either has, or is being portrayed as taking the high road of stepping down. That is, as the head of the HP organization, he is taking responsibility for actions, not looking for special status or exceptions and stepping down from his post instead of trying to sweep the dust or dirt under the rug. Thus Kudos to Mr Hurd for taking responsibility, not hiding, spinning or throwing someone else under the proverbial corporate politics bus to save his own hide.As the CEO of a major corporation the buck stops with him and he should not be above the law or polices of his own organizations that other employees would be expected to follow.

Too often today we hear stories of company or organization or government leaders getting or expecting special treatment in some cases not taking full and complete responsibility for their actions other than for a photo opportunity.

On a different yet related note, perhaps my thinking will change as more comes out on the story as well as they story behind the story, however this is an interesting example of how crisis management can be dealt with. Sure the story was released on a Friday afternoon which is typically when bad news is put out after the financial markets have closed. On the other hand, given the nature of HP being a tech company and with web, blogs, twitter, face book and other social media the chatter was significant for a late Friday afternoon.

Lets see how this plays out and if HP along with their PR crisis team played the right cards by getting the story out, CEO Mark Hurd stepping down to avoid prolonging the situations as well as how wall street will react short term and over the long haul.

This leaves me with a closing thought of if politicians from all sides (or across both sides of aisle or parties) did what HP CEO Mark Hurd did (resign) due to impropriety, we would have fewer elected officials. Thus I do not think Mr Hurd has a future in government politics not because of what he did that caused his stepping down at HP.

No, rather because either on his own or under advice of others he decided not to look for or seek special favor or cover up of what was done as well as try not to spin the story thus saving both him and his company (HP) for the long term.

Nuff said for now.

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz – Author The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
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