H-P Spy Drama The Watergate of Corporate America

Is there a bottom to this story? If so, we’re not close to reaching it. Spy vs Spy at H-P escalated to the public humiliation phase when chagrined and seemingly clueless corp execs are shamed by Senators who are usually subjected to this kind of scrutiny by their constituents. All that pent up Senatorial rage.

Characters are clearly drawn now. Dunn, or Duh!, the Chairwoman, claims she did not know what was going on, takes no responsibility, and thought you can get someone elses phone records merely by asking. Huh? Hurd, or Heard!, is the CEO, the guy who has pleased shareholders by taking control of an organization rife with destructive, internecine battles. He has increased shareholder value (the mantra), and, most important, he says that spying in news rooms and obtaining records under false pretenses is clearly wrong and it will never happen again and he will restore trust at H – P. He was coached well.

You have the scapegoat and you have the hero, and it is clear which is which. For desired outcomes, this is the optimum stance. You want the CEO, going forward, to fix a serious problem and stabilize the company that was doing well before all this.  You really don’t care about a disgraced Chair, who is no longer part of the company. Dunn’s greatest mistake to me from a public relations perspective is that she does not show remorse or offer insight into what occured. Simply being appalled would help.

In corporate drama there are heros and villains, winners and losers. Ms. Dunn may be correct in all her assertions, and Hurd, for all I know, knows much more than is evident and was more culpable than we can see.  In the end, when the stories are written in the newspapers,  filmed for television, and spread through blogs and Internet news sources , we are left with impressions, sound bites, and a storyline.   Mark Rose, New York

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