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Unformatted text preview: Dominic Orr is president and C.E.O. of Aruba Networks, a wireless networking company. He tells employees that everyone will eventually take a “momentarily stupid” position on some issue, so it's important not to waste time defending it May 7, 2011 Yes, Everyone Can Be Stupid for a Minute By ADAM BRYANT This interview with Dominic Orr, president and C.E.O. of Aruba Networks , a wireless networking company, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant . Q. What were some early lessons for you as a manager? A. The biggest feedback I had from my people is that I didn’t give them feedback. I was running along. I had a pretty high standard for myself, and I assumed that everybody who joined my team was operating at the same level. Good work was assumed, so I let them know only when something didn’t go well. People started telling me it would be nice if I gave them a pat on the back rather than only telling them when things were not good. Another thing I distinctly remember is that I had trouble having a difficult discussion with employees because, as a young manager, sometimes you don’t really know how to tell somebody to their face that they’re not doing a good job. I also struggled at first with this whole process of running a staff meeting. I remember bringing my H.R. person in to have her run meetings so that I wouldn’t take over, express my opinions and then everybody would sit there silently. Q. What are some other important leadership lessons? A. I have had a very good mentor — Wim Roelandts, who worked for H.P. for about three decades. He rose to become the No. 2 executive of H.P. under Lew Platt. He is someone who embraced the old H.P. way. Q. What were some lessons you learned from him? A. I would say empowering people. Basically, he would push you and give you as much as you could handle until you started failing. He would encourage you to not be afraid of failing — because when you start failing, that’s when you know where your limit is, and then you can improve around that. So he actually sometimes would reward failure because that means that you have pushed yourself. That is an unusual approach, so people under him tended to be able to really find their limits. And once they do that, they figure out a way to overcome it, because they don’t feel that inhibition. I think that is a very big thing. The whole H.P. way of management kind of molded my approach to managing people in business. Q. And boil that down for me. What is the H.P. way? A. Fundamentally, the H.P. way started with the basic assumption that each employee wants to do well, and they are Fundamentally, the H....
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- Fall '08