Meg Whitman posted a column on LinkedIn Monday in which she declared that she’s a “no excuses” kind of CEO.Whitman did not refer directly to the Autonomy mess. But as we read her column, we couldn’t help thinking about it.
After taking a writedown of $8.8 billion on the software company’s acquisition and accusing former Autonomy management of deceptive accounting, Whitman admitted that HP paid too much for the company to begin with.
HP is facing 10 lawsuits over it all.
Whitman said the board—which she served on before becoming CEO—was not to blame, saying auditors at Deloitte had cleared the deal. Deloitte denies wrongdoing. As does former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch, who says HP’s mismanagement is what hurt Autonomy.
Here’s what Whitman has to say about excuses:
Run to the fire, don’t hide from it
Following years of constant changes in leadership and inconsistent strategies, one of my first priorities was to bring a sense of accountability back to the business and empower our employees. When it comes to fixing what’s not working and focusing on what is, I don’t want excuses. I want action.
I don’t hesitate to call our teams to inspect a situation I see. I’ll always ask why we won, why we lost and what we could have done differently.
Transparency and credibility
When I say “no excuses,” that goes for me and the entire organisation. Credibility among investors, customers and employees hinges on an ability to admit mistakes and to tell it like it is. A failure to provide an accurate picture of a situation also slows down your ability to capitalise on an opportunity or fix a problem.
We took transparency to heart when we provided a frank assessment of the challenges facing HP and laid out our multi-year strategy at a Security Analyst Meeting in October, 2012. While we knew the event wasn’t going to generate the prettiest headlines, we wanted our stakeholders to have a clear understanding of the journey we are on.