The HP Revolving Door at the Top…

Corporate Culture is so "Selectric" it isn't funny! Can you say "Old School"?

I’m sure everyone has heard the news that the Beanie Baby hawking auction Queen Meg Whitman now holds the former CEO “Carly” (Fiorina) seat which was simply being held warm by a few successors.  However an Economist article got me thinking as they fault the [HP] board for hiring yet another outsider supposed “Superstars” instead of hiring from within as culture is key, or at least so says the Economist brain trust.

However the HP life style is something I do know a little about and while it’s been three years since my departure, I’m sure it’s maintained the course [southward] as the same as when I’ve left it. As also in my time there, I got to meet Lou on his way out, and Carly on the way in.  In addition, had spoken with Carly several times afterwards on business topics (one was not so positive, least you think these were all fun town hall meetings).

Yet one of the interesting points is that of “culture” as after the sale of Agilent (the former test and measurement group), life changed.  Then came the Compaq acquisition, where the [culture] change was even more stark as we went from a long haired hippie commune culture, to that of a button down ruthless business environment.  As this is the point, “culture” no longer exists as a whole in corporations, as in today’s world the concept of “Corporate Culture” has gone the way of the Selectric typewriter replaced instead by discrete “cultural environments”.

As when I entered corporate America, you typically didn’t hear from the CEO save for once in a blue moon via a corporate (printed) news letter.  Therefore the “word” made it down the chain via the “telephone” game from manager to underling.  It’s here where “Corporate Culture” played its role much as “social norms” do in the [efficient] conveyance of information.

Fast forward to today, where the CEO sends out emails to the entire company, has a blog and even responds directly to employee communications.  It’s much like the weather, that we can now attain a more affective distribution of “culture to task” rather than one painted with a broad brush.  This in turn improves the overall effectiveness of the company by allowing the various units to adapt as needed instead of being shoe horned into a one size fits all model.

While I’m not sure of what Ms. Whitman’s success will be, as she appears to be more of a start up gal, then “run and grow” juggernaut. However the jury is still out till she gets a couple months under her belt, yet believe the Economist has it wrong when it comes to culture as those days have gone the way of the typewriter…

About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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