HP has made some controversial decisions lately, but is Meg Whitman a great strategic move or the kiss of death for this once great tech company? HP announced Whitman’s appointment on September 22, 2011 but given the public comments, customers seem to think it’s a bad choice. It’s my stance that HP usually leaps before it looks and I am not sure that I am sold on Whitman as the new CEO. So let’s look
at some of their past strategy choices and follow the yellow brick road.
1.HP Has a Poor Track Record in Past CEO Selection.
HP has not had a stellar track record when it comes to leadership and their choices have often gotten them into sticky situations. Former CEO Mark Hurd exercised poor judgment with a contractor, former CEO Carly Fiorina was unable to successfully forge the merger between HP and
Compaq and there is some speculation that most recent ex-CEO, Leo Apotheker, was hired sight unseen. If we take past behavior as the best predictor of risk, HP’s new CEO seems pretty risky.
2. HP Has Historically Had an Ineffective Board
It isn’t entirely fair to heap all of the blame onto the CEO’s; there was another broken system at play, the Board of Directors. While you can argue that the board didn’t set some of the previous problems in motion, they did participate in how the situations were handled during and after the fact. Where was the board when the merger with Compaq was collapsing? Having a reactive board is not good enough for a company as recognizable as HP. The HP Board of Directors has to be focused on prevention and good business practices to build a long term strategy
that focuses on customers and innovation.
3. HP Has Decreasing Product Quality.
HP used to be synonymous with great products, but lately quality is not the immediate adjective you would jump to when you describe HP Products. Take for example my LaserJet printer. It has all the bells and whistles; its wireless, Bluetooth compatible and an all in one (fax, scanner, and printer) machine. When it works, it’s wonderful but the operative word is when it works. It breaks down at least twice a month and the scanning feature is hit or miss. For a small business, this is a huge operational problem.
4. HP Has Uninspired Strategic Decisions
I am not the only that feels like the decision to get out of the personal computing arena was a bad idea, but I feel that it was also uninspired. The HP story is like a small business fairy tale and most small businesses and start-ups get a lot use out of personal computers in their early days. Deciding that personal computing is not a lucrative market is like spitting on small businesses. I think that so much could have been done and couple this decision with the move to pull the touchpad off the market so quickly and you have a strategic disaster. I am looking to seeing how Whitman will respond to these areas and if she will reverse any of these decisions, fingers crossed.
HP is a legendary company with a history of rash decisions. I’ve only looked at four areas and hopefully these are the areas that will catch Whitman’s attention and will prompt her to create a lifeline for the company.