Adam Lashinsky of Fortune spoke with Mark Hurd this morning and elicited some revealing responses from the embattled HP CEO. Hurd said that he doesn't plan to resign, and will reconstitute the HP board, saying he would "re-build its very core." Here's an excerpt from Adam's interview:
Okay, let's discuss the issue at hand. Regarding the now-famous scheme to send a false news story to CNET News in order to smoke out the board leaker - how good is your moral compass if you were willing to approve lying to the news media?
In our case, we had a fairly difficult situation, in terms of the fact that we had information that was strategic to Hewlett-Packard that continued to leak out of the company. We needed to stop it. Clearly the team's view was that they had to have some morsel of information to be able to attract the leaker. So that's the strategy.
What they wanted was my agreement that they could, what's the right word to describe it, dangle some important information in front of the leaker. And I agreed to that. Now, hindsight's 20/20. We get a little more experienced and a little smarter as we go through things. And I wouldn't do it again. But to be clear, I understood the team's strategy, and I agreed to that.
The fact remains that you describe it as a 'difficult situation.' But isn't a difficult situation exactly when someone's ethics are most important?
We could talk about this for a long time. It is what it is. We had a difficult situation. The team was working very hard to try to get the ... I've said enough.
Other than apologizing and promising to do better, which you've done repeatedly now, how can you convince investors, employees and the public that next time, you'll make the right decision in an ethical situation.
I don't know that you can every convince anybody with words. It takes actions.
Is there an action you are contemplating that will show that?
Well, we'll see.
See also: BusinessWeek has an in-depth profile of Hurd