How Much Will HP Hurt Without Hurd?

Michael Vizard

Regardless of the circumstances of the departure of Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd, there is no doubt that HP is a better company in the wake of his five-year tenure.


There's no question that HP was a house divided against its self when Hurd took over. The previous CEO, Carly Fiorina, who is now running for a Senate seat in California, was widely viewed with HP as an outsider more concerned with her image than the famous "HP Way" culture. After a divisive Fiorina term, Hurd's by-the-numbers approach to running a business that he brought with him from NCR Corp. was a welcome relief after years of chaos that began with the merger of HP and Compaq Computer Corp.


Ironically, the need for that merger was created by the success of Dell, which apparently had been exaggerating its own competitive prowess for years thanks to some price discount assistance from Intel. Now that both Intel and Dell have settled their respective cases with various government agencies, it's becoming clear that Dell created a narrative around its success that led to a myth about its own manufacturing efficiencies, when in reality its arch rival was just grossly inefficient. Hurd deserves a lot of credit for not only making HP efficient again, but making a series of strategic acqusitions, including EDS.


That all said, however, HP under Hurd was not above double-speak of its own. HP has shown a tendency to compete with its own IT services partners whenever convenient. That may technically be good for HP, but it creates a lot of unnecessary confusion and tension between customers, IT service providers and HP that ultimately winds up doing more harm than good.


Hurd deserves credit for acknowledging his role in whatever circumstances led to his resignation. Like all CEOs at his level, he's an intensely competitive person. So making that decision must not have been easy.


What happens next is anybody's guess. The real legacy of Mark Hurd will be whether HP will need to immediately find another strong leader at the top, or see the executive team he brought in hold it together. It will truly be a shame should HP disintegrate into the internal warring camps that characterized much of the company's behavior prior to the arrival of Hurd. Only time, and luck, will ultimately tell the tale.



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Aug 7, 2010 12:12 PM carol carol  says:

Mark Hurd was an immoral bean counter with no personality besides arrogance and a complete disregard for people or the "HP Way". I work at HP and have seen the changes in culture to a miserable bitter and inefficient work force that consistantly misses SLAs.  Customers come dead last, and shareholders and stock value are the only thing that matter. If Carly had been a man (and a liberal) she would have been hailed as a brilliant visionary.  Mark Hurd has cut AT LEAST as many jobs, and adding not a single new idea.  HP is the biggest IT company in the world today thanks to the merger with Compaq. Carly kept the PC business, in the face of everyone thinking they should ditch it. PCs are now #1 in the world.  What the hell did Mark ever do that was positive. History shows over and over again that it takes YEARS sometimes for good trees to bear fruit.  Carly was ditched, and Mark got to swan into the role and take all the credit. I can't stand the man, and am so happy he is gone. I hope all his minions go with him.

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Aug 10, 2010 7:51 AM Bea Bea  says:

I stayed with HP for almost 20 years and left due to the change of culture, inefficiency and frustration.  No little sign of the "HP Way" anymore - what made finally the company. I see the importance of having black figures - but there are or sould be at least also some other important values such as people - my feeling still is that they "HP way" was completly killed under Hurd's management....it only can become better under a new management. 

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