Some companies have all the luck: though challenged by some corner-office turmoil after the unexpected ouster of CEO Mark Hurd, HP has lately been flooded with a torrent of unsolicited suggestions and opinions on whom to hire as CEO.
Most of those brainstorms have fallen somewhere between uninspiring (Ed Zander, Ray Lane, Joe Tucci) and downright absurd (Lou Gerstner, Colin Powell, Scott McNealy), while others have consisted of nothing more than an alphabetical list of HP's top executives culled from its website. So as HP considers all that wonderful free advice, the company should be very sure to remember exactly what it paid for that accumulated wisdom.
Nonetheless, I'd like to add another suggestion to the list, although I must say I think this one's a fairly inspired idea. This new one comes on the heels of my analysis earlier this week of the performance of HP interim CEO and full-time CFO Cathie Lesjak during the company's latest earnings call, in which I concluded that while Lesjak acquitted herself fairly well, HP needs CEO-level leadership that goes far beyond a rigorous grasp of the company's operations, finances, and near-term strategies.
For HP to fulfill its enormous promise as the largest IT company in the world, it needs a CEO who can aggressively and enthusiastically address HP's top-level and product strategies as well as a number of related issues that I outlined in two other recent columns. (You can read those and many more analyses of HP's strategy and related issues in the "Recommended Reading" list at the end of this column.) As if those HP-specific challenges aren't enough, the overall IT industry is undergoing some massive changes as well, including the rapid emergence of the mobile enterprise, the evolving role of cloud computing, the drive for real-time business, the implications of the information explosion, the rise of SaaS, the red-hot market for optimized systems, and more.
So in the midst of those technology shifts and business-model upheavals and shifting needs and desires from customers, HP and its new CEO will need to devise tightly integrated business and technology strategies that will let the $125-billion company not just keep up with the overall market but rather get out in front of and lead key segments.
And that's exactly why I think the right CEO for HP could very well be two co-CEOs: