I’ve always enjoyed reading Geoffrey Colvin’s column in FORTUNE, but when he wrote his latest in the October 16 issue, I think he may have lost it. The piece, titled “A Growth Plan for HP’s CEO” in the print magazine, offers little in terms of advice other than the painfully obvious under the circumstances (e.g. “fix the board” and “hire the right general counsel”).
More tellingly, I think Colvin confuses leadership with operational excellence. The “four specific leadership moves” that Colvin outlines in the article are still fundamentally operational decisions.
Mark Hurd’s aversion of “the other accoutrements [of big-picture leadership, as Colvin puts it], particularly the cocktail party/golf course circuit”, is a matter of individual preference and managerial style. To fault him on that is unfair and to suggest that he’ll resist growing into the kind of chief a $90-billion-a-year company needs even more so.
What Hurd needs to do is to think of ways to leverage HP’s dominance in printing solutions to build a viable business for digital imaging, which is the other half of the equation not being adequately addressed by the company. For years, HP’s shot at making digital cameras can at best be described as half-hearted.
If HP is wary of getting involved in more hardware business, it must then integrate tightly its printing solutions with the offerings of other business units, instead of letting them operate as individual fiefdoms.