Advice to the HP Board of Directors

By | September 24, 2011

If you are planning to rob a bank, don’t have anyone from HP driving the getaway car…this company leaks like a sieve. If the volume of news reports today is at all indicative of truth, HP is poised to fire its third consecutive CEO and name a new one, reportedly Meg Whitman. I’ll leave the opining about whether she is a good choice to the experts, but regardless of the choice, HP’s new CEO has a tough road ahead.

What can the board do to enable this 4th CEO to be successful?

  1. Choose a great communicator. Sources say the board supported the strategy currently in place, but didn’t have confidence that it would be “sold” properly to the stakeholders. That’s a problem. Great leaders tend to be effective, even inspiring, communicators.
  2. Take control of the story…name your CEO, emphasize the reasons for the choice (hopefully someone with turnaround experience) in a first step to restore trust and confidence in the board. Make sure to highlight relevant skills and experience…one of the big criticisms of Whitman is that eBay is a consumer tech company, and built a company but never fixed one.
  3. Align third party support for the new CEO, and balance all of the negative quotes with some positive or at least neutral ones.
  4. Make the new CEO’s first priority to fix the culture at HP. Many describe HP as multiple fiefdoms fighting for control…which explains frequency and volume of leaks that’s high even for tech companies. Build trust internally first, and external perception and performance will follow.
  5. Give your Corporate Communications leadership a seat at the table. A great PR strategist would likely have predicted most of these issues, and offered guidance on preemptive strategies, and remedies.
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