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Carly Fiorina Still Doesn't Get It

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Okay. Look. We’re going to have to say it. What is it about Hewlett-Packard that has led to so much self-deception and denial on the part of people at the top of its org chart? Between Carly Fiorinia and Pattie Dunn, Hewlett-Packard seems to have developed a fetish for leaders who are large-and-in-charge and who seem incapable of doing wrong—in their own eyes. We’ve harped on Dunn enough already. Her insistence that she wasn’t responsible for the leak investigation—it seems no one was—and that she did almost everything right while everything went very, very wrong has now become downright weird. How about Carly? She’s still playing the same tune—that there was nothing in her performance while she was CEO of H-P that led to her downfall.
Yesterday the New York Time’s Joe Nocera delivered a brutal smackdown of Carly’s latest attempts to burnish her public image.

''Here's what the firing was not about,'' Carleton S. Fiorina told Damon Darlin of The New York Times this week. ''It was not about performance.''
The firing to which Ms. Fiorina was referring, of course, was her own. It took place in February 2005, when she was dismissed as the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard by the company's ''dysfunctional board,'' to use her words. Ms. Fiorina, universally known as Carly, wasn't just any chief executive, either; she was the highest-profile female executive in the country, the perennial top choice for Fortune magazine's ''50 Most Powerful Women,'' and a celebrity C.E.O. who was to the business media what Paris Hilton is to the tabloids. Her firing was a very big story at the time…
So I come here this Saturday morning to offer a simple corrective. Carly, it was about performance. And if you didn't realize that then -- and can't admit it now -- you should never have been Hewlett-Packard's chief executive in the first place.

Nocera goes on to describe Carly’s organizational reforms as burdening H-P with “an organizational chart with so many overlapping responsibilities that nobody seemed to be in charge. She larded the place with bureaucracy.” Which is pretty much sounds like the organization that Patty Dunn describes whenever she talks about the leak investigation—once the project was off and running, no-one seems to have actually been in charge of it. And so its no wonder it went out of control.
At some point, Pattie may realize that she was undone by the structures put in place by a woman she has described as her hero. And then things will really get ugly.

Carly Fiorina's Revisionist Chronicles
[New York Times]


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