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Lou Agosta

Greetings and welcome to my blog focusing on reengineering healthcare using information technology. The commitment is to provide an engaging mixture of brainstorming, blue sky speculation and business intelligence vision with real world experiences – including those reported by you, the reader-participant – about what works and what doesn't in using healthcare information technology (HIT) to optimize consumer, provider and payer processes in healthcare. Keeping in mind that sometimes a scalpel, not a hammer, is the tool of choice, the approach is to be a stand for new possibilities in the face of entrenched mediocrity, to do so without tilting windmills and to follow the line of least resistance to getting the job done – a healthcare system that works for us all. So let me invite you to HIT me with your best shot at LAgosta@acm.org.

About the author >

Lou Agosta is an independent industry analyst, specializing in data warehousing, data mining and data quality. A former industry analyst at Giga Information Group, Agosta has published extensively on industry trends in data warehousing, business and information technology. He is currently focusing on the challenge of transforming America’s healthcare system using information technology (HIT). He can be reached at LAgosta@acm.org.

Editor's Note: More articles, resources, and events are available in Lou's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

The cruel economy strikes again, and Mark Hurd is out as CEO at Hewlett-Packard Co. (H-P). First lesson learned here? Always be sure that your expense reports are accurate. If the participant in the event was "Jodie Fisher," then the documentation should say "Jodie Fisher". And, of course, while $20K - the alleged amount of over payment for marketing services reportedly not performed - is a tad north of dinner for 25 people at Charlie Trotter's (Chicago), we are not talking Enron (fortunately).  H-P said its investigation showed that Mr. Hurd did not violate H-P's sexual harassment policy, but other anomalies were uncovered.[1] There is no excuse for it, nor will any be suggested here. Zero tolerance strikes again - as well it should. And yet ...


Lesson number two, and this is a tough one. As Presidential candidate Jimmie Carter said in a notorious interview with Playboy magazine (in 1975), "In my heart I have lusted after woman." Much as the tabloids might miss the details of a juicy sexual adventure, this is not one. If this is not the case of a sexual phantasy gone astray, then I would not know one. Make no mistake. Mark Hurd is no Bill Clinton, who after all got to keep his job (along a strict party line vote). This is a severe penalty to pay for the "crime" of having a sexual phantasy. The cynic in me momentarily says Mr. Hurd ought to have been fired for failing to score, but that is an idea for which I apologize in advance to him, knowing that he is family man. Leave it to a numbers guy to try to impress a girl with ... well, numbers. No doubt he will schedule some time off to repair the damage done, and that is as it should be.


The third lesson? Life imitates art? Not quite. Life imitates Reality TV. And this is the sad part. Not to dump on the would be  femme fatal in this case, who, after all, was literally a Hollywood star and a contestant in a Reality TV show, she anticipated a settlement and reportedly has one. Not having a single fact in the matter, I infer that this is the governance paradigm in reality TV. Write a letter; get even more publicity (and maybe a settlement or at least another TV show); no harm done. Not quite. Now she says she's sorry that Mr. Hurd lost his job because he turned over her letter alleging sexual harassment to the H-P Board. I believe it. Rumors that she has reportedly invited him to appear with her on the next episode of The Apprentice have been debunked. While this has rich comic possibilities, I fear that I have crossed the line between reality and phantasy (again), just like this entire episode.


And that is the final lesson here. Strict corporate governance is appropriate. Corporate governance is different than The Lives of the Rich and Famous. The pendulum swings back-and-forth between wild parties and zero tolerance. Mr. Hurd's mistake was momentarily to confuse the non-reality of Reality TV with trust and integrity between human beings. Yet he ought to have known that, in many contexts, a mere conversation about sex (or anything remotely sexual) is a method of gaining power and maximizing revenue (through a settlement), especially among those who traditionally have lacked power. Poor judgment in choosing friends? You bet! The unintended result? Corporate America has lost a powerful and articulate leader, albeit an imperfect one, at a time when leadership is in short supply. We eagerly await his reflections (next book?) on life in the corporate jungle, business leadership, and the cruel economy; and if Mr. Hurd requires an editor or a foil for his ideas, then I hope he will reach out. He has a listening here.

[1] WSJ.com: August 8, 2010, "Mark Hurd Failed to Follow HP Code," BEN WORTHEN and JOANN S. LUBLIN, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704268004575417800832885086.html?mod=WSJ_article_MoreIn_Business

Posted August 9, 2010 9:54 AM
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