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.