Under Carly Fiorina, HP employees used soy sauce-dispensing chopsticks to game the system

Carly FiorinaGetty ImagesFormer HP CEO and presidential candidate Carly Fiorina at a shareholders meeting in 2002.

Under former CEO and current presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s leadership, employees of HP manipulated a system designed to reward engineers for good ideas — and made out like bandits, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The way the system worked was simple. If you had a good idea for a potential HP product, you had to submit it to another employee.

If that other employee signed off that it was, indeed, a good idea, you got a $US100 bonus.

In the early 2000s, HP was moving away from building business software and toward building consumer hardware, like portable music players and digital cameras. This left a lot of bored software engineers with nothing better to do than to come up with good ideas for this contest.

One former HP employee, Peter Hagelund, told the Wall Street Journal that his division spent months in 2002 doing nothing but signing off on hundreds of each other’s wacky ideas — including a design for chopsticks that also dispense soy sauce.

Those employees ended up pooling their $US100 earnings and splitting them evenly. Hagelund said that with his proceeds, he was able to buy a red Jeep Liberty. After his stint at HP, Hagelund left for IBM, which was a very different culture.

“If I had put forward the chopsticks idea at IBM, they would have laughed at me or walked me out the door,” Hagelund told the Wall Street Journal.

Add this up with a recent report that Steve Jobs apparently fleeced Carly Fiorina with a one-sided deal for HP to resell iPods, and it looks like the company was easy to manipulate under her leadership.

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