Dunn has done the right thing, but perhaps too late

September 23, 2006 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

Patricia Dunn, the executive in charge of Hewlett-Packard’s dubious investigation into board leaks, resigned Friday from the board with immediate effect. From a public relations perspective, this was the right thing to do – two weeks ago.

Had Dunn fallen on her sword sooner, HP might have been able to preempt some of the public flogging it is now receiving, not to mention the current speculation that CEO Mark Hurd was somehow involved in the scandal. Instead, the company chose the half-measure of Dunn stepping down as chairman of the board at the end of her term. Whether by design or lack of information, it also was not particularly proactive in its communications, but rather tended to react to news as it came out – which only served to fuel speculation.

The company needed to be seen to have moved swiftly, plus it needed to distance the CEO – crucial to its continued turnaround – from the scandal. Whether or not Dunn was aware of the highly questionable tactics employed, she was responsible for the investigation and therefore, in my opinion, should have taken the rap. It might not be fair, but that’s the responsibility that comes with a leadership position.

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