For somebody holding a medieval history degree, Carly Fiorina has made a life out of rewriting reality. Mrs. Fiorina is a sharp part of the HP 3000's history, poking the air out of a storied balloon that had three decades of service to its credit. This week marks the five-year anniversary of her ouster from HP. She's celebrating by throwing a demon sheep into the Internet and tossing aside truths about her legacy at Hewlett-Packard.
Who else could spark anybody into creating the demonsheep.org Web site overnight? There's so much to say and report on the Carly for California US Senate race -- and how it reflects HP's fiscal policy of today -- that written words alone won't tell it all. There's a 9-minute podcast we've put online, with thanks to this exiled CEO-turned-politician's poor judgment in message and approach. At no extra charge we're including some history about her HP reign without the added revisions. But as she says herself in less than three minutes of HP revisionism, "This isn't about talking. It's about getting something done."
That approach will sound familiar to any 3000 customers who remember the HP corporate decision to end its profitable HP 3000 business. In 2001, while the stock languished and her beloved merger with Compaq loomed, Carly's leadership simply ignored any talk from customers and got the one thing done that changed your lives. No matter what former general manager Winston Prather says about having the ultimate decision about cutting off HP's 3000 life, he wasn't even a VP at the time. Getting something done required Carly's trusted circle to approve the move, the one that put everyone into Transition.
Carly has been through a transition herself, as the above photo shows. She beat cancer last year, and now she is beating the drum about how wrong everyone is about an institution she wants to join. It sounds so much like her mantra while dismantling the HP Way. This isn't working anymore, she'd say, and whenever anyone talked back, she didn't listen. Don't mistake this report for a US Senate political statement -- except to note that politicians behave like Carly did for more than five years while grasping HP's reins. The five that followed her forced resignation have shown the fault didn't lie in the stars, but in this brute herself.
Unlike the millions who will get to decide if Carly's career in politics gets even shorter, the thousands of 3000 community members didn't get a vote in 1999 when she joined HP, or in 2001 when her corporate gang cut off the computer. If the voters weren't paying attention now, Carly's demon sheep in a 3-minute political attack got lots of notice. Perhaps not the kind she was expecting. But it's the 150 seconds of her biography that deserve closer scrutiny to show the cautionary tale of a corporation's hard line on its bottom line, and some clues on how to plan for protection from hubris.
We annotate and decipher campaign's ebulliant melange of Carly's HP history in our podcast, but you can see for yourself how political grasping requires some foggy memory and outright rewrites on that biography. This is a prickly way to celebrate an anniversary, but one with a message for community members either divorced from HP, or working toward a new relationship with the vendor's leadership. Just be glad you're smart enough not to be anybody's sheep.