Carly Fiorina: "Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim …"

Carly Fiorina, today at Taleo’s user conference:
 
–She has spent her career “undergoing massive change” and “what I know about change is that it’s difficult, it’s necessary, it’s frequently unpredictable and messy, but like Charles Darwin said, the companies, the individuals, who master change will succeed.”
 
–“If something is really important, you measure it. If it’s not so important, you don’t measure it. Measures and rewards drive behavior.” HR is about “how do we ensure that people are behaving in the way we want them to behave … if you want different results, people have to behave differently.” Hewlett-Packard salespeople used to be paid based on orders. This reinforced the notion that salespeople didn’t have to worry about margins, customer satisfaction, solving customer problems, and building long-term relationships.
 
–“People talk about values and culture and behavior as soft stuff. I don’t think it’s soft stuff. It’s very difficult stuff.”
 
–Companies, more than committing integrity sins of “co-mission,” are more likely to commit sins of “omission,” involving the inability to create a culture of openness and debate. In such cultures, people don’t say what they really think, don’t speak up when something is wrong, don’t engage in a vigorous debate in a meeting — instead waiting until the meeting’s over and talking behind people’s backs. HP’s culture had become too “nice, polite, nonargumentative … the real issues were not [always] on the table.”
 
–Leaders aren’t people who have a lot of employees report to them, or make a lot of money. “Leaders can come from anywhere any time. There are leaders everywhere in an organization. Leaders are fundamentally [people] who choose to make a positive difference.” They takes risks, have good character, and collaborate. She says that the phrase “leaders are born, not made” is a lie. “Anyone can choose to lead,” she says.
 
–Good managers are as aware of what they don’t know as they are aware of what they know.
 
–“I do not think there is, there has been, a time when what you do is more important.”
 
–(On whether she’d take the Hewlett-Packard CEO job now) … “Every leader has a season, and my season at Hewlett-Packard has clearly past.” No regrets, though: She’d make the same decisions, including buying Compaq. “I’d do it all again.”
 
–Says that when she arrived, Hewlett-Packard was “literally almost frozen in time.” What held it together was a history and the “HP Way” values. But what happened was the phrase “had turned into a shield against change.” In meetings, people would come up with a good idea, and it would get rejected because it wasn’t the Hewlett-Packard way. “Integrity doesn’t mean we deep-six every new idea that comes along,” she says.
 
–Hewlett-Packard tended to look to the past for guidance. Compaq looked to customers and the future. Hewlett-Packard people were process-oriented, systematic. That was good but sometimes “HP people processed forever and never decided.” People went, “Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, and never fired.” Both Compaq’s culture and Hewlett-Packard’s culture had merit, she said.
 
–“Management is about producing desired results within known conditions.” Leadership, on the other hand, is about — more than anything — developing other leaders. “The instinct of people in positions of power is to preserve the status quo, not to make a change. … leaders rock the boat.”
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