Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Carol Bartz and the Intangibles

In a previous post that compared the accomplishments of Carol Bartz and Mark Zuckerberg, I looked at Bartz from a quantitative perspective - for example, the fact that Yahoo's revenue is much greater than Facebook's.

But there are some non-quantitative factors that are fascinating. I'm just going to look at one of them.

As Loren Feldman has noted, Bartz has extensive business experience. But her initial experiences with 3M were, on the surface, not that spectacular. You see, Bartz joined 3M at a time when television's Mary Tyler Moore show was considered revolutionary because Moore's character was a woman professional at a Minnesota news station. And the fictional Minnesota news station was idealistic, compared to Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. For one thing, she really stood out:

Bartz joined 3M in 1972 as the only woman professional in a division of 300 men.

3M had to learn some things, and unfortunately, Bartz paid the price.

She was fired during her first week at her first job at 3M because of some scandalous - and erroneous - speculation. The company mistakenly assigned her to share a hotel room with a male colleague during a business trip, she said in "Betting It All." She switched the reservation to a single room, but office rumors flew. The company dismissed her, only to rehire her the next morning.

She survived that episode, but finally quit in frustration four years later, after (in a fairly famous story) someone at 3M made an unfortunate comment.

[Bartz] quit in 1976 after being refused a transfer to headquarters. In an interview with More Magazine, Bartz recalls, "They told me to my face, 'Women don't do these jobs.'” She replied, “I'm out of here,” and she immediately quit.

Well, times have changed. Mary Richards got fired from her TV job, Bartz has made billions for Yahoo and other companies, and no one would dream of putting 3M's Angela S. Lalor and Joaquin Delgado in the same hotel room.

Oh, and a few years ago, John Leo reported about an interesting Post-It Note from 3M:

Until recently, for example, the 3M company put out post-it notes with the printed message: "Men have only two faults: everything they say and everything they do."
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