re: Can HP Remake Itself Before It's Too Late?
The mismanagement of HP goes back over a decade and starts with the board of directors. They have swung from asleep at the wheel-letting charismatic CEO's go their own way-to hypervigilant-setting arbitrary and unrealistic deadlines for CEO's to achieve the impossible.
It's the job of a company's board to counterbalance the short-term thinking that results from focusing too hard on immediate shareholder value. Board members are are in effect the custodians of the long term health of a company. That means that they must require CEO's to articulate an overall vision that extends out into the future and to drive all business decisions, whether it be acquisitions or changes in direction, based on whether they fit into the big picture.
HPs board has quite simply failed at this. They rubber stamped the purchases of Compaq and EDS though both were questioned by experts in the industry and neither fit into a coherent and specific narrative about where HP was headed. They did nothing to ensure that these companies were properly integrated into HP.
Once jolted upright and forced to restructure, they brought In Leo Apotheker and asked him to fix the mess in 9 months or else. The message was "We're watching closely now." Apotheker's flip flopping wasn't helpful but frankly the problems were too deep-seated by then for him to have succeeded in so short a time with such a limited mandate.
Now we read that Ms. Whitman is also on a ticking clock. We don't read that she's been asked to start by saying hey, HP, what are your natural abilities, what do you want to be when you grow up and what do you need to major in to make that happen? We read that she's been asked to fix it. Fix what, how, why?
There's brilliance yet in the organization and some residual motivation in areas of historical excellence. But since none of it is directed at a goal, the energy dissipates faster than it can be generated. Add to this the fact that Mr. Hurd completely destroyed the employees' confidence that they would be treated justly and with respect. Hence the brain drain just when experts are most needed.
It's not easy to find any cause for optimism here and that's heartbreaking. Barring a miracle, we can only hope that the components of HP that are best of breed don't go under with the sinking ship.