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While Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina was CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the company’s employees manipulated a system designed to reward engineers for good ideas – and made out like bandits, The Wall Street Journal reports.
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 $100 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 come up with good ideas for this contest.
One former HP employee, Peter Hagelund, told The Journal that his division spent months in 2002 doing nothing but signing off on hundreds of one another’s wacky ideas – including a design for chopsticks that also dispense soy sauce.
Those employees ended up pooling their $100 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 Journal.
Add this up with a recent report that Apple cofounder Steve Jobs apparently fleeced Fiorina with a one-sided deal for HP to resell iPods, and it suggests the company was at least in some ways easy to manipulate under her leadership.