Proactively seeking new thinking at HP

Seeking Alpha had a very interesting bullet point in an update about HP this morning:

  • Sources add Meg Whitman is “seeking new thinking at the top of her executive ranks.”

This is what all people in executive leadership should be seeking and encouraging–new thinking.  But, is that the expectation set by the leaders? Do leaders want people who fit in? Or, do they want people willing to make waves?

Sadly, corporations–intentionally and unintentionally–encourage what I call “stock responses” to issues.  “Stock responses” are little more than a reflex. The responses are intended to preserve one’s role, ensure the response introduces no risk to their employment, and largely are about preserving and protecting the status quo.

In working with a client recently, I observed that the person who stepped into a leadership role seemed to be more of an administrator of the status quo that someone fully engaged and actively looking for ways to “move the needle” in terms of contributed value.  It was as though this person was manning a desk they inherited who seemed to be  too comfortable with a less than satisfactory status quo. There were no signs this person:

  • Knew what was working and what was not
  • Had engaged fully with the stakeholders
  • Acknowledged and was taking action on opportunities for increasing the value add

It’s simply not possible to accelerate growth by preserving and protecting the status quo.  As Marshall Goldsmith offers, “What got you here, won’t get you there.”

What happens to an organization that fails to proactively seek new thinking?  As my mentor, Alan Weiss, offers, the leadership team ends up “breathing it’s own exhaust.” That’s not a formula for accelerating growth–it’s the formula for deepening a death spiral.

I applaud Meg Whitman for telling the world she “gets it”–she needs new thinking at the top.  This is an opportunity for senior leaders to either speak up and advocate for change they know in their hearts and minds is needed or be left in the dust.

Either way, this is a good indicator that the status quo at HP is unacceptable.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting,

© 2013 Dave Gardner

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