Saturday, 24 September 2011

Will Whitman Outwit the Competition?

"Messenger Down! He's finally been shot!"

This is how I imagined the situation in the HP Board Room last week when it was confirmed that HP had just fired their CEO of less than one year, Leo Apotheker.

While I personally felt Apotheker was the wrong man for the job, it was shocking to see how HP's Board failed to take responsibility for actions that they were also responsible for.  The last twelve months have been rocky for not only HP but the rest of the industry as they've all struggled to grow while Apple has moved ahead of the pack at record pace.
HP's Board missing in action when their CEO needed a hand

In firing Apotheker, HP's Board washed their hands of any responsibility of whatever's transpired for them since he took over, including their decision to exit the tablet & smartphone business, separate their PSG division and acquire Autonomy.  Most of these were actions that we would've thought unthinkable a year ago before Apotheker took charge but for him to take these decisions as CEO, there must've been some consent or agreement on this direction from the Board at HP.  It is inconceivable to think that all of this would've happened with Board endorsing it and as a result, it was in essence part of their strategy as well.

The way Apotheker managed these announcements had a left to be desired for and his ability to chart out a direction for HP seemed flawed in my opinion but to strictly put the blame on him is wrong.  Having personally seen Mark Hurd speak previously, my guess is that had he been in the same position, he would've I'm sure been able to handle the situation a lot better. Hurd had a sense of charisma and respect that he gained which would've made you think that any decision being pushed through by him was well thought through.

With HP now deciding to appoint Meg Whitman, an HP Board Member, as CEO can be seen as positive step forward given her track record in the consumer space at eBay but what we have to remember is that she still is part of the Board that went ahead with Apotheker's strategy for changing HP.

Will Whitman outwit (sorry for the pun) everyone and bring HP back to the leadership position it deserves to be in by doing something revolutionary in HP or will she serve as a captain of a ship that's already set sail?  We'll wait and see but whatever she does decide to do, I hope HP Board's learns their lesson as they next time around they can't ask why the CEO screwed up.  It's been their own doing and they have to take responsibility for themselves going forward.

Please note all thoughts mentioned on this blog are personal views and not given by me in any official capacity.  If quoting from this blog, please quote me in a personal capacity only and not in my official capacity.