The HP Way
Hewlett Packard has been having a tough time the last 5 years. As reported in Business Week, most analysts realized in 2004 that HP had stalled. The HP printer business was the only unit making money, and growth was weak as resources were being poured into the faltering PC/server business -- which was not helped by the Compaq acquisition.
Jim Collins did a great job of describing the decades of early success at HP in Built to Last. The HP Way gave work teams permission to create new solutions and pushed the decision making, as well as resources, as low as possible. Great innovation was the result, and years of prosperity.
But with the acquisition of Compaq HP definitely lost its Way. Decision making moved up, often to the CEO. As HP adopted the Compaq Success Formula in its effort to grow PC sales management found itself focused on Defend & Extend management practices like budget slashing, R&D reductions, new product cuts and layoffs (over 17,000 since 2002). This was not the HP Way, and business results went from bad to worse.
Now some are calling for the new CEO to even more aggressively pursue cost cutting and layoffs. To "execute - then strategize." That surely won't turn around HP. What's needed is unleashing the innovation amongst those thousands of silicon valley employees. What's needed isn't price slashing, but new products, new markets and new competitive models to deal with Dell. HP needs to go back to creating and managing those high performance White Space teams that made it great.
Changing leaders at HP certainly provides a pattern interrupt to the business. If he takes the popular route with analysts, and executes more disturbances like his predecessor, he can expect to continue the string of results below expectations. Instead, HP's new CEO needs to follow through with effective disruptions that create White Space and returns HP to the HP Way.