Monthly Archives: September 2011

How to Kill a Brand

Read this story and weep. The once vaunted Hewlett-Packard has been in decline, not because its products are bad but because the egomaniacs on its board of directors can’t play nice in the sandbox. Where does it leave consumers and stockholders? Twisting slowly in the wind. Only time will tell whether the knight on a white horse – or is it knightess (?) Meg Whitman, founder of eBay and just anointed H.P. CEO, can save the company from its downward slide. Meanwhile, will you give pause the next time you reach for a shiny new H.P. printer or computer?

The Professor gives H.P. an F. What’s your grade?



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You’re Fired!

Ah, the verbal tap dance. You’ve got some negative news to distribute but you want to think ahead. Are your being dishonest if you want to sugar coat it?

Even the most seasoned executives now and then stay true to their authentic selves and bark the truth. That’s what happened when Yahoo chief executive Carol A. Bartz blasted an email earlier this week to her 13,400 underlings bluntly stating, “I’ve just been fired.”

The Professor asks: was it the right thing to do? Could she have instead followed the more acceptable route of ex-honchos  by demurely stating that she was stepping down to pursue new opportunities, or leaving the company to spend more time with her family?

Let’s face it: we all know an executive has been fired when these standard lines are sent via press release to the media, so why not just own up to it and call a spade a spade. The public appreciates honesty, and respects individuals who can hold their head high.

But the rules are different in the corporate world.

Will the future of Yahoo be affected by this unexpected drama? Probably not. Will Ms Bartz find another job? Hard to say. Corporations rarely like this kind of indiscretion, with good reason. Controlling the script is paramount; impulsive outbursts are rarely tolerated.

It will be interesting to see where the former Yahoo CEO lands, and whether the next time around she’ll slip on her tap dancing shoes.

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