Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater

From my perspective this advice is OK:Simplicity Blog: "Wharton's Michael Useem nails one of the things our own Cincom research on business reorganization indicates as vital leading the internal team culture so that it can accept the kinds of change needed for success. 'Hurd should give thought to H-P's culture -- a problematic area for Fiorina, who clashed with longtime H-P employees accustomed to the collegial, time-honored 'H-P way. Here, Hurd should take his guidance from the great Lou Gerstner [former CEO at IBM]. After two years of working to transform IBM - in much the same way Hurd has to do now at H-P -- a barrier to the kind of performance Gerstner wanted was the inward-looking IBM culture. It had a resisting effect within IBM vis-a-vis the kinds of changes Gerstner sensed were critical to turning the company around. He worked hard on reconstituting the culture. For Hurd, the question is going to be whether the H-P culture is where it ought to be to make it the kind of company he wants.'"

but my experience is that the whole culture gets really knocked around - this needs to be done in such a way that the good parts of the culture are not lost. Otherwise you end up with an average (or below-average) company.

I think it is very easy for any company to become inward looking, and this what needs to be changed. Get your engineers/development mgrs/etc. out with customers and ensure that what they learn flows round the organisation. Make sure they haven't become so process bound that they can't breathe without permission. Make sure you change of ethos is real, and affects all the organisation. Again my experience is that the grass-roots devlopers are happy to get out more, but are often restricted by IP concerns, contractural concerns, projects which already take 80 hours a week. And you actually find ( especially when the company is in crisis) that the development managers are given stretch targets in terms of delivering products at the very time you need the developers to be more outward looking. So the top-brass trumpets a new culture, but do not play enough attention to the pragmatic day-to-day decisions that affect peoples careers: what targets are they being set, what behaviours will be rewarded at review time etc.

HP needs to keep the elements of its culture which lead to technologically savvy, high-quality products. A consensus is only a problem if it takes too long, or has only internal priorities to balance.

No comments: