My favorite CEO adage by far is the tale of three envelopes. It is rumored that a new chief executive is presented with three envelopes by his predecessor. These notes of wisdom are designed to be opened in sequence in response to any serious crisis. The first letter directs the new leader to shift blame to the last CEO. The second envelope directs the CEO to re-organize and fire people. The last and final piece of advice on the third letter is to prepare three identical envelopes for the next guy. This urban legend may elicit a few snickers from the readers, but unfortunately for HP CEO Meg Whitman, it looks like she’s already cracked open two of her three envelopes.
The HP CEO had lots to say when she confronted shareholders last week, and in her most reassuring tone possible, was forced to report quarterly results that would drop the stock to a nine year low. To top it off, HP announced 2013 would be another restructuring year, and it would struggle to be profitable until 2014 at the earliest. So who’s to blame you ask? Well, according to Whitman: "The single biggest challenge facing Hewlett-Packard has been changes in CEOs and executive leadership, which has caused multiple inconsistent strategic choices, and frankly some significant executional miscues. This is important because as a result it is going to take longer to right this ship than any of us would like," she added.
HP is already at risk of losing its title as the world’s largest PC manufacturer to Lenovo, but could it get even worse? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.