I got a few of emails today from people who claim you can't only blame Hurd for HP's current malaise, moreover it's the whole HP leadership that should be held accountable.
I say it's all about the leader and the team he or she molds that drives the vision and instills passion down through their organization.
Today's winning services firms are being shaped by their leaders:
Accenture's Bill has charisma, is pragmatic, and has had the guts to bring in new blood and thinking to constantly break new ground; Cognizant's Frank's incredible energy, youthful thinking and intellect defines his firm; Genpact's Pramod relentlessly drives his firm on with a consistent vision; Infosys' Kris has a determination to shape the industry; while Wipro's Suresh has stuck to his guns to deliver his own brand of global sourcing to clients. These are just some examples of today's services leaders who define agendas for their firms and are prepared to adapt to change. And one other thing - if a large deal was on the line, they would be personally involved.
Several other providers have forgotten their personalities, are lumbering along trying to meet certain metrics, but seem to be following trends, as opposed to leading and defining them.
Now, none of these providers are perfect - they all have their warts (hell, we all have warts), but what they do have are leaders with a vision and an understanding of how to position their firms in unique times like these, where there is no "set" way of doing things. Today, there is no rule book. Instead there is passion and energy, creativity and innovation. Moreover, services companies need to forge an identity to survive.
Hurd's challenge was that HP was too big and too focused on hardware. He needed 5% annual growth, which was about $6-7B a year. He would much rather sell a hardware device to a business or a retailer with a service contract attached, than sell a more strategic and "sticky" business process contract.
HP doesn't have time to make a poor, or even an average, decision. The firm needs a vision, it needs to detail specifically how it intends to service its customers, and how it intends to help them find new thresholds of performance. It needs a leader who can step in to re-energize the firm, set out its agenda, nurture the cash-cows, while investing in the growth opportunities. The industry is watching which direction HP takes - and this one's crucial.