If Whitman gets the job she will be in similar straits that Lou Gerstner found himself taking over a faltering IBM which he then resurrected in less than a decade. He was a former CEO of RJR Nabisco when he took over IBM; something to be said for going outside your comfort zone to get a leader for a multi-billion dollar hi-tech company. Wish her luck if she gets the job!
It doesn't sound like you know what you're
talking about. Gerstner had been a star at
McKinsey (management consultants) prior to
Amex and RJR. Apotheker showed up at HP and
said "I want to mimic what Lou did for IBM"
so he got out of laptops (like IBM did with
Lenovo) and overpaid for Autonomy (like when
IBM got into middleware by acquiring Cognos).
Basically, he built up "services" at IBM,
i.e. he steered it to a consulting biz. Whitman,
previously a consultant at Bain (alongside
Mitt Romney) will just stay the course set
by the former SAP chief, and try to grab
market share from IBM and others in Services.
The old HP got axed when Fiorina was in charge.
Picking a brash, non - technical Texan saleswoman like Fiorina forever destroyed what I would call the 'techno - macho' of h-p. Bringing in another non - technical, wanna - be politician like whitman now can hardly fix that. A company of the size of h-p can stay together only by betting their size to create hard to copy niches ( rather than mimic IBM's game 20 years later ! ). h-p can never find its groove while being managed by MBAs cautiously watching next quarters revenue.
The torch has been passed.
HP is a big company, with fingers in many markets. It needs to find a way to obtain some kind of synergy from its breadth - this is sort of a dual of the classic "economy of scale" meme. HP needs its developments at the one end of the company (say, enterprise servers) to give it relevant advantage at the other end (say, laptops). Imagine if it could use inkjet expertise to print memristors. Or expertise with scalable high-end storage could leverage commodity disks for cloud-scale systems. Today, you can get most any kind of IT from HP, but little of it is exceptional, worth buying on its own merits. And it's not enough to simply have modern, reasonably well-managed industrial supply chains. HP needs a leader who can help it find a purpose.
It's been years since anybody at the top of HP has had an original thought (technical staff excluded). The me-too mentality of chasing ACTUAL leaders only guarantees you 2nd place and unremarkable products at best. If you want to win, do something FIRST. To generate, or even spot opportunity requires a deep & broad understanding of your market, along with creativity - something in short supply in the corporate world these days.
HP is in no immediate danger. Its true that last few (or most) of the executive decisions were kind of stupid but HP has not lost its ground in computing from where it gets one-third of its revenue. It just has to revamp its effort and realign its strategy.
There have been some not-so-shortsighted statements already from her "Megness" in the last 48 hours which is encouraging. First, she has stated that she is not planning to divest / spinoff HP's hardware business, so HP remains a REAL technology products company!
Getting HP's finances in order is also her top priority. There may be some hard to accept downsizing on the way!
Couple of tips for her:
1. Believe in your engineers & scientists! HP has some excellent people that I know of personally and I hate to see them leave because of the terrible way the company has been managed in the last couple of years.
2. Nurture HP Labs and leverage its output. It seems like the group is being managed/run very well and can possibly the rescuer for HP's new products.
3. Promote internally -not to sound too Zen, I was expecting the change to come from within! I would have liked to see that apply to the CEO's position. It was a surprise when the board elected to get her "Megness" on board instead of promoting from within (probably the board wasn't in tune with the HP's upper management?).
4. Now that the CEO position has been filled, focus on KEEPING your top (productive) management in the company (can't say the same as for the board!).
5. Reconstitute the board NOW!
Dr. MP Divakar
HP needs to embrace the fact that it is, and should remain, a hardware company at heart. They should stop trying to be an IBM clone. I hope Meg Whitman can lead them out of the chaos that the HP board has created. It would be truly sad to see HP slowly fade from the scene.