BILL HEWLETT HAD A DIFFICULT DECISION TO MAKE.
It was 1970, three decades removed from the iconic garage in Palo Alto where Hewlett-Packard had been started. Hewlett’s partner, David Packard, was temporarily away from the company, serving as U.S. deputy secretary of defense.
The country was in a recession. Orders to HP had slumped, coming in substantially below capacity. Revenues and profits were down. The company needed to cut 10 percent of its costs.
Some of the company’s managers, used to organizations hiring and firing in concert with profits, apparently jumped the gun and began terminating people. Loyal and hardworking employees were being blindsided. Hewlett rushed out a memo to his managers.
“An increasing ...