“My boss asks me what I really think of him. HR advises me to tell the truth. I’m fired.”
From Jean-Louis Gassée’s 50 Years in Tech, Part 13: Firing Frankness.
In a Palo Alto restaurant in January 1990, John Sculley and I have what turns out to be our last dinner together as fellow Apple employees… with the VP of HR in attendance. Over dessert, Sculley asks me what I think of his performance as Apple CEO, do I trust his decisions, think he’s leading the company in the right direction? Politely but frankly, I tell him.
I recall the moment’s emotion: I felt I was performing a good deed, being helpfully clear and honest, hoping to clear the executive suite’s unbreathable air. Indeed, before the dinner, HR VP Kevin Sullivan… had encouraged me to forgo the expected courtier’s dissembling and, instead, to “help” Sculley by speaking straight.
As we wait for our cars, Sullivan puts his arm around my shoulder: “Jean-Louis, I’m proud of you…” After half a decade in Cupertino, I know what this means: What I have done is irreparable. [more]
My take: Gassée, who took over the Mac division after Steve Jobs left Apple, has been using the excellent Monday Note blog to serialize his 50 Years in Tech. This is a good one.