HP has a major ethical problem, Day 5

Newsweek has this as its cover story in the September 18th issue: Scandal at HP: The Boss Who Spied On Her Board. A thorough look at the events that led up to where we are. I don’t see anything that makes me want to turn back, even a little bit, from my point that Dunn should be done. Day 5 will be known as “the emergency board meeting.” Boy, wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall in that one! Maybe the guy who leaks from board meetings could give me a call and tell me what happened.

Comments

  1. Obviously whats she did was wrong. However the leaking board member should also be vilified. They were appointed to a trusted position, at the top of a company with over 150,000 employees, they were prepared to compromise that company and its employees jobs by effectively posting confidential company information all over the internet.

  2. Obviously whats she did was wrong. However the leaking board member should also be vilified. They were appointed to a trusted position, at the top of a company with over 150,000 employees, they were prepared to compromise that company and its employees jobs by effectively posting confidential company information all over the internet.

  3. Robert,

    Why are you being so ‘conventional’ about this?

    Calling for people to be ‘surgically removed’ is certainly clear and resolute, but what makes you think that saying this adds anything to the conversation other than ‘Robert is tough on wrongdoing’.

    Nobody reads your blog just to hear you saying something that they could read anywhere else.

    We want to hear new ideas about how to deal with old problems.

    Condemning may indeed be the right thing to do, but YOU can’t get away with just saying ‘amen to that’ when people cry ‘off with their heads’.

    Someone who wrote a book about a new way of tackling communication cannot get away with saying:

    “They did real bad stuff, we need some justice, so we’re gonna have us a fair trial, then we’re gonna have a lynching, then we’re gonna have us a celebration, that’s justice”.

    There is nothing conversational about calling for someone, maybe a whole bunch, to go.

    You may believe it has to happen.

    You may be right.

    You may believe you need to say that you feel this way.

    Fine.

    But for Robert Scoble, this is NOT ENOUGH.

    We need new ideas from you, Robert.

    We need ideas on how to deal with this.

    Unelss you believe that once your request has been granted, and the board goes, that suddenly, people say to themselves:

    “Wow, we must never do anything like this, Scoble will call for our heads and that will be that!”

    I don’t think that you think this way.

    I think you know that all this will do will be to push the bad behaviour of others further under, make them more inventive, find new ways of doing bad things.

    Have you got some ideas?

    Well, if HP had a Channel9, perhaps considering perpetrating such bad behaviour might seem much more at odds with a spirit of transparency, and would make people think twice.

    Do you feel that Channel9 would make Microsoft feel more guilty, make them less inclined to “throw all the goodwill away” by doing something so risky, so likely to make them seem more evil?

    Got a problem with corporate evil?

    Who ya gonna call?

    Podtech!

  4. Robert,

    Why are you being so ‘conventional’ about this?

    Calling for people to be ‘surgically removed’ is certainly clear and resolute, but what makes you think that saying this adds anything to the conversation other than ‘Robert is tough on wrongdoing’.

    Nobody reads your blog just to hear you saying something that they could read anywhere else.

    We want to hear new ideas about how to deal with old problems.

    Condemning may indeed be the right thing to do, but YOU can’t get away with just saying ‘amen to that’ when people cry ‘off with their heads’.

    Someone who wrote a book about a new way of tackling communication cannot get away with saying:

    “They did real bad stuff, we need some justice, so we’re gonna have us a fair trial, then we’re gonna have a lynching, then we’re gonna have us a celebration, that’s justice”.

    There is nothing conversational about calling for someone, maybe a whole bunch, to go.

    You may believe it has to happen.

    You may be right.

    You may believe you need to say that you feel this way.

    Fine.

    But for Robert Scoble, this is NOT ENOUGH.

    We need new ideas from you, Robert.

    We need ideas on how to deal with this.

    Unelss you believe that once your request has been granted, and the board goes, that suddenly, people say to themselves:

    “Wow, we must never do anything like this, Scoble will call for our heads and that will be that!”

    I don’t think that you think this way.

    I think you know that all this will do will be to push the bad behaviour of others further under, make them more inventive, find new ways of doing bad things.

    Have you got some ideas?

    Well, if HP had a Channel9, perhaps considering perpetrating such bad behaviour might seem much more at odds with a spirit of transparency, and would make people think twice.

    Do you feel that Channel9 would make Microsoft feel more guilty, make them less inclined to “throw all the goodwill away” by doing something so risky, so likely to make them seem more evil?

    Got a problem with corporate evil?

    Who ya gonna call?

    Podtech!

  5. Ricky has a point. How do you prevent this type of thing in the future.

    The rarified air in these boardrooms seems to starve these people of oxygen so that they can’t think clearly. They’ve lost touch with reality. Dunn’s comments to the NYT and FT and others demonstrates clearly that she thinks the biggest wrong in all this is that someone (Perkins) spilled the beans and he’s winning the “PR war.” She doesn’t get it at all.

    Almost two years ago I wrote a think piece about boards being out of touch with reality and why they needed to blog.

    It’s here, if you’re interested.

    Seems to me that the root cause of this is that directors are supposedly not allowed to talk to anyone. While I agree they should not talk about things that could compromise the company’s competitiveness or breach SEC regulations, it makes no sense to gag them 100%.

  6. Ricky has a point. How do you prevent this type of thing in the future.

    The rarified air in these boardrooms seems to starve these people of oxygen so that they can’t think clearly. They’ve lost touch with reality. Dunn’s comments to the NYT and FT and others demonstrates clearly that she thinks the biggest wrong in all this is that someone (Perkins) spilled the beans and he’s winning the “PR war.” She doesn’t get it at all.

    Almost two years ago I wrote a think piece about boards being out of touch with reality and why they needed to blog.

    It’s here, if you’re interested.

    Seems to me that the root cause of this is that directors are supposedly not allowed to talk to anyone. While I agree they should not talk about things that could compromise the company’s competitiveness or breach SEC regulations, it makes no sense to gag them 100%.

  7. Michiel,

    I do agree that its getting dull. Just like Iraq, terrorism, Israel, global warming, Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea etc?

    I am inured to these topics. They don’t grab my interest as much as they should.

    But I recognize they are important issues that need to be reported.

    When companies feel they have the right to illegally obtain reporters’ phone records, it’s a big issue. It has to be reported.

    Robert knows that if you don’t keep up the heat, the issue will fade away and set a precedent for all other companies, governments and other authorities in the future. They will do these things again because they will know they can ride out the initial storm.

    I really don’t care about HP, but I do care about the principles involved.

  8. Michiel,

    I do agree that its getting dull. Just like Iraq, terrorism, Israel, global warming, Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea etc?

    I am inured to these topics. They don’t grab my interest as much as they should.

    But I recognize they are important issues that need to be reported.

    When companies feel they have the right to illegally obtain reporters’ phone records, it’s a big issue. It has to be reported.

    Robert knows that if you don’t keep up the heat, the issue will fade away and set a precedent for all other companies, governments and other authorities in the future. They will do these things again because they will know they can ride out the initial storm.

    I really don’t care about HP, but I do care about the principles involved.

  9. It’s interesting that the title and tone of the article are not nearly so clear-cut as the cover would suggest. I recommend that the Newsweek article be read and then we should wait to see how all of these allegations are resolved.

  10. It’s interesting that the title and tone of the article are not nearly so clear-cut as the cover would suggest. I recommend that the Newsweek article be read and then we should wait to see how all of these allegations are resolved.

  11. Orcmid,

    The Newsweek article’s focus is mostly on the board spying on its own.

    It glosses over the real issue, which is that as far back as the first half of 2005, HP has had its goons hacking into reporters and their families’ telephone accounts.

    That’s the real issue. Journalists, bloggers, in fact all of us, shouldn’t have to worry that some giant Firm is going to hack our phone records, rummage through our garbage, poke around in our medical records or whatever other tactics they might want to use when we start making noise about them.

    I think it’s press clear-cut. Or is that acceptable to you?

  12. Orcmid,

    The Newsweek article’s focus is mostly on the board spying on its own.

    It glosses over the real issue, which is that as far back as the first half of 2005, HP has had its goons hacking into reporters and their families’ telephone accounts.

    That’s the real issue. Journalists, bloggers, in fact all of us, shouldn’t have to worry that some giant Firm is going to hack our phone records, rummage through our garbage, poke around in our medical records or whatever other tactics they might want to use when we start making noise about them.

    I think it’s press clear-cut. Or is that acceptable to you?

  13. Ricky

    Erm – there are ways to deal with Directors thats why compaines have non execs and in europe the Emploees have reresenation.

    Maybe after sorting this they need to expand the works council system to the USA ;-)

    Rgds M

  14. Ricky

    Erm – there are ways to deal with Directors thats why compaines have non execs and in europe the Emploees have reresenation.

    Maybe after sorting this they need to expand the works council system to the USA ;-)

    Rgds M

  15. Robert,

    Thank you for continuing to discuss the HP board scandal, and calling for Dunn’s removal.

    I was on the board of a small community group here until earlier this year when I resigned. A great injustice was done to one of our employees (he was forced into resigning) because of board members who supported a lying employee. This person not only lied about the conduct of his fellow worker (there were only 2 employees) but was eventually revealed to be incompetent as a manager. Down the track the board members had to admit the organisation was in financial difficulties because of incompetent management and the board was removed. I found it pretty disturbing that a number of board members had their allegiances and that was that. Others, like myself, were concerned with justice, the truth and a fair go for everyone. I wish I had had an internet blog read by thousands to publicise the injustice………….

  16. Robert,

    Thank you for continuing to discuss the HP board scandal, and calling for Dunn’s removal.

    I was on the board of a small community group here until earlier this year when I resigned. A great injustice was done to one of our employees (he was forced into resigning) because of board members who supported a lying employee. This person not only lied about the conduct of his fellow worker (there were only 2 employees) but was eventually revealed to be incompetent as a manager. Down the track the board members had to admit the organisation was in financial difficulties because of incompetent management and the board was removed. I found it pretty disturbing that a number of board members had their allegiances and that was that. Others, like myself, were concerned with justice, the truth and a fair go for everyone. I wish I had had an internet blog read by thousands to publicise the injustice………….

  17. Keep slugging away, Scoble. You’re doing good work – and drawing blood. Lots of people read you.

    This country really needs to get away from greedheads (the backdated stock options issue) and thugs (HP spying) in high places.

    “For authority to be respected, authority must be respectable.”

  18. Keep slugging away, Scoble. You’re doing good work – and drawing blood. Lots of people read you.

    This country really needs to get away from greedheads (the backdated stock options issue) and thugs (HP spying) in high places.

    “For authority to be respected, authority must be respectable.”

  19. The problem is that the cure is worse than the disease. The leaker probably won’t be asked to resign and even if he is he can just use this as distraction.

    Dunn should be kicked off the board and sued…… what she did was a crime (literally).

    Kevin

  20. The problem is that the cure is worse than the disease. The leaker probably won’t be asked to resign and even if he is he can just use this as distraction.

    Dunn should be kicked off the board and sued…… what she did was a crime (literally).

    Kevin

  21. Dominic, I have not said that I find any of the alleged conduct acceptable. I do not.

    What I don’t want to be party to is a rush to judgment in a situation in which I am but a spectator.

  22. Dominic, I have not said that I find any of the alleged conduct acceptable. I do not.

    What I don’t want to be party to is a rush to judgment in a situation in which I am but a spectator.

  23. This HP story has been so completely spun against Patricia Dunn that I’ve heard people describe it as “the woman who eavesdropped on people’s private phone calls.” Privacy is and should be a third rail–but I’m disgusted by the lynch mob hollering “Get that woman out of there” as the best and only way to show we all value privacy. And I’m surprised to see you part of it, Robert. It’ll be great for HP, however, if it can completely shed this well-deserved scandal just by firing yet another woman.

    The traffic in people’s private phone records ought to be stopped by Congress, not by blog-mobs howling for the heads of the guilty in a few cases that come to public notice. But Congress has done nothing, and it’s more than half a year after AmericaBlog bought Wesley Clark’s phone records for $89.95. http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/01/americablog-just-bought-general-wesley.html

  24. This HP story has been so completely spun against Patricia Dunn that I’ve heard people describe it as “the woman who eavesdropped on people’s private phone calls.” Privacy is and should be a third rail–but I’m disgusted by the lynch mob hollering “Get that woman out of there” as the best and only way to show we all value privacy. And I’m surprised to see you part of it, Robert. It’ll be great for HP, however, if it can completely shed this well-deserved scandal just by firing yet another woman.

    The traffic in people’s private phone records ought to be stopped by Congress, not by blog-mobs howling for the heads of the guilty in a few cases that come to public notice. But Congress has done nothing, and it’s more than half a year after AmericaBlog bought Wesley Clark’s phone records for $89.95. http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/01/americablog-just-bought-general-wesley.html

  25. Betsy: the person in charge deserves to go here. But, I’ve been pretty clear all week saying the entire board needs to go too. This whole board smells. If I remember right, the rest of the board is all men. But, it most definitely starts with Patricia. Sorry. The buck stops with her. If a man were at the top I’d be saying the same thing.

  26. Betsy: the person in charge deserves to go here. But, I’ve been pretty clear all week saying the entire board needs to go too. This whole board smells. If I remember right, the rest of the board is all men. But, it most definitely starts with Patricia. Sorry. The buck stops with her. If a man were at the top I’d be saying the same thing.

  27. Robert, I believe you that if a man were on top, you’d say the same thing. But if a man were on top, I don’t believe there would be such a media frenzy. And most of the frenzy is people saying that the board should fire Dunn, not people saying that the board should resign.

    Can we turn some of this anger and activism toward getting some laws passed to stop this from happening in the future?

  28. Robert, I believe you that if a man were on top, you’d say the same thing. But if a man were on top, I don’t believe there would be such a media frenzy. And most of the frenzy is people saying that the board should fire Dunn, not people saying that the board should resign.

    Can we turn some of this anger and activism toward getting some laws passed to stop this from happening in the future?

  29. Sorry, Betsy, I respectfully disagree. If a man spied on the phone records of Walt Mossberg he’d be getting just as much shit as Patricia is getting here.

    And, most of the evidence presented so far points toward Dunn, sorry. To say it doesn’t is just trying to bring some sort of new variable into this equation. To try to do this weakens whatever argument you are trying to make.

    In California we already have laws against pretexting. But, agreed, we should have nationwide laws against that.

  30. Sorry, Betsy, I respectfully disagree. If a man spied on the phone records of Walt Mossberg he’d be getting just as much shit as Patricia is getting here.

    And, most of the evidence presented so far points toward Dunn, sorry. To say it doesn’t is just trying to bring some sort of new variable into this equation. To try to do this weakens whatever argument you are trying to make.

    In California we already have laws against pretexting. But, agreed, we should have nationwide laws against that.

  31. HP Board lacks integrity

    The spying scandal is a sorry comedown for a company that HAD a reputation for excellence and integrity.

    The board’s actions have been more of the CYA variety than of truthfulness.

    * WHAT PHONE RECORDS? The board played dumb when they realized that directors’ phone records were used in the leak investigation. No one asked, “How did we get these records?”

    * BOARD MEMBER RESIGNED FOR “PERSONAL REASONS”: Perkins resigned in May. HP resisted proper reporting to the SEC of the reasons for Perkins’ resignation until the past few days.

    * STONEWALLING: Dunn and Hurd have made only weak apologies. Dunn has been far more strident about tracing the leaks from an individual than about the corporate breech of integrity in fraudulent investigations.

    * PROTECTING CRIMINALS: HP has refused to identify the private investigation firm or the third party investigators who are suspected of doing the pretexting.

    * WEAK APPEASEMENT: Recent announcement of Board changes are weak.
    1. Dunn remains chair for 4 MONTHS.
    2. She remains on the Board.
    3. She will be replaced by Mark Hurd, who is also CEO and President.
    4. The Board will backtracking on its new rule, that the Chair and CEO would be different people. This weakens HP’s Corporate Governance.

    If the Board had any integrity, it would have acted…
    * immediately, upon learning of wrong doing
    * without coverup, without excuses
    * without compromise to the offenders

    The Board must demand Dunn’s resignation from the Board. (There will be more legal fallout for HP if she remains, than if she leaves and HP cooperates fully with the California State, Federal, Congressional, SEC and FBI investigations).

    The Board needs to have a non-executive Chair. There needs to be a check on the CEO.

    The Board must make a public statement, repudiating in the strongest terms, the tactics used by its private investigators, and reiterating its stand on corporate integrity.

    The Board must take ACTION to convince the business and investment community that it is determined to regain the mantle of integrity and excellence it once had under Hewlett and Packard.

  32. HP Board lacks integrity

    The spying scandal is a sorry comedown for a company that HAD a reputation for excellence and integrity.

    The board’s actions have been more of the CYA variety than of truthfulness.

    * WHAT PHONE RECORDS? The board played dumb when they realized that directors’ phone records were used in the leak investigation. No one asked, “How did we get these records?”

    * BOARD MEMBER RESIGNED FOR “PERSONAL REASONS”: Perkins resigned in May. HP resisted proper reporting to the SEC of the reasons for Perkins’ resignation until the past few days.

    * STONEWALLING: Dunn and Hurd have made only weak apologies. Dunn has been far more strident about tracing the leaks from an individual than about the corporate breech of integrity in fraudulent investigations.

    * PROTECTING CRIMINALS: HP has refused to identify the private investigation firm or the third party investigators who are suspected of doing the pretexting.

    * WEAK APPEASEMENT: Recent announcement of Board changes are weak.
    1. Dunn remains chair for 4 MONTHS.
    2. She remains on the Board.
    3. She will be replaced by Mark Hurd, who is also CEO and President.
    4. The Board will backtracking on its new rule, that the Chair and CEO would be different people. This weakens HP’s Corporate Governance.

    If the Board had any integrity, it would have acted…
    * immediately, upon learning of wrong doing
    * without coverup, without excuses
    * without compromise to the offenders

    The Board must demand Dunn’s resignation from the Board. (There will be more legal fallout for HP if she remains, than if she leaves and HP cooperates fully with the California State, Federal, Congressional, SEC and FBI investigations).

    The Board needs to have a non-executive Chair. There needs to be a check on the CEO.

    The Board must make a public statement, repudiating in the strongest terms, the tactics used by its private investigators, and reiterating its stand on corporate integrity.

    The Board must take ACTION to convince the business and investment community that it is determined to regain the mantle of integrity and excellence it once had under Hewlett and Packard.