Thursday, August 12, 2010

Intruiging "atmoshperic" pressure in "high places"?

I have been following - not comprehensively and closely though - the saga with Mike Hurd and HP that has been unfolding in the last few days. I have no idea who is right or wrong - and have neither the interest nor inclination of forming an opinion myself - but what bewilders me are the kinds of justifications that the two camps are coming up with.

In a nutshell, this is how the saga unfolded: sexual harassment allegations against the CEO => internal investigation => original complaint was deemed "unfounded", but other irregularities w.r.t. expense statements and payments were unearthed => CEO resigns (presumably under the "advice" of the Board) => a divisive saga is played out in public court with two camps emerging (one in support of the ousted CEO; one in support of the move to oust the CEO).

Now here's what I don't get - here's a CEO who claims to have "falsified" his expense statements and reportedly expressed "profound lack of judgement in his relationship with a contractor". Among the key defences in his favor that I do not understand are from Nell Minnow, Editor & Chairwoman of "Corporate Library" (and interestingly, also a reviewer of film and media) who claims (as reported in the San Jose Mercury News): "They [the HP Board] obviously did not make it clear enough to him what their expectations were, or this would not have happened". EXCUSE ME????  A CEO needs to be told that he mustn't falsify expense claims? A CEO needs guidelines on how to conduct his "business" with a co-worker? Somebody needs a reality check - and if that someone is me, then somebody please tell me! I much rather liked Larry Ellison's defence (which too, I find difficult to fully agree with) that the falsification resulted from possible human errors on part of the Executive Assistants who were filing those claims on the CEO's behalf.

Of course, not that my sympathies are with the "plaintiff" either. She categorically states there were never any advances - other than the monetary kind I guess - by the CEO and states that "having him fired was never her intention".

I would have thought irregularities - whether intentional or genuine errors - in expense reporting should have been addressed through internal audits and corporate governance mechanism. If it was found to be beyond the internal audit, then I guess the offender - CEO or anyone else - had it coming to him.

My high-school science has taught me that atmospheric changes in high places causes behavior that you wouldn't immediately logically expect on the ground. Perhaps this is just a manifestation of that: "atmospheric" pressure in "high places". Beyond my pay grade as they say in some movies and in L&O and as my friend Andy often uses.


1 comment:

Sushant said...

Well, I'm gonna tell you something I learnt the legendary Sir Humphrey Appleby. Internal audits are supposed to show that there are no irregularities. Also, good internal audit systems and reports earn you a better credit rating when you ravail credit facilities from banks (begging for money that is!). I would actually deem the findings of the team irrelevant as the team was to study only the possible sexual harassment and not financial irregularities!