Epic Vision Fail by HP CEO Meg Whitman

November 30, 20122 min

Do you know what HP does this days?  Apparently neither does CEO Meg Whitman.  About halfway through this twelve-minute Nov 20th interview (beginning around 6:12), she is asked this question by  Marketplace senior editor Kai Ryssdal, “With all respect…instead of all the marketing goobley gook and executive speak, tell me what exactly HP is in a language a consumer can understand.”

Meg Whitman’s response,

“Well…remember HP has two customer bases.  One is consumers like you and me and your family members and colleagues.  But the other big customer of HP is the CIO’s of the world’s largest companies and the senior leaders at what we call our partner companies…what we call value added resellers.  So, we are both an enterprise sales company as well as a customer’s company…a consumer company.  So that makes HP a little bit more complicated, but about 3/4 of the revenue of this company actually is sold to enterprise customers – like CIO’s, VP of Ops, VP of Applications – at a big company like Procter & Gamble, Deutsche Bank or a FedEx.”

Wow!  It took Meg Whitman 114 words and forty-seven seconds to answer the question and she couldn’t do it without relying on executive speak or marketing goobley gook!  You want to know why big companies struggle these day?   This is a great example.  Senior leaders and executives cannot describe what is their core mission\vision in a simple sentence.

In Scrum, there is a concept of a Vision that describes the desired end-state of the product (or service) the Team is developing.  Creating, understanding and communicating the Vision is the responsibility of the Product Owner.  It is very important in self-organizing teams where the day-to-day decision making is delegated to the Team, that they understand the Vision and are given autonomy to achieve the Vision.

During my Certified Product Owner class, we spend time creating a Vision and I share many different techniques to capture the Vision.  I am not sure what HP does, but here are two simple Vision statements I might use:

  1. HP makes the transition between your home and the office seamless.
  2. HP improves efficiency and reduces the total cost of ownership of technology investments for the world’s top 100 companies.

Short, sweet, focussed and to the point – just the way I like it.