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Meg Whitman’s LinkedIn Message Underscores Turnaround Moves

After announcing its third quarter earnings, HP CEO Meg Whitman spoke with CNBC’s Jim Cramer about the company’s leadership changes to aimed at driving its turnaround. Feeling she might not have fully gotten her message across Whitman went on LinkedIn to elaborate. It’s a communications gambit more CEOs are likely to use when a lot is at stake.

Recently Meg Whitman announced a management shake up aimed at driving her turnaround strategy. Bill Veghte, HP’s chief operating officer (COO), will become executive vice president and general manager of the HP Enterprise Group, a role that will now include responsibility for the coordinated development of the company’s portfolio of cloud solutions. Dave Donatelli will take on a new role focused on identifying early-stage technologies as he did successfully with 3PAR and 3Com. In a separate organizational move, HP will combine its Marketing and Communications organizations under the leadership of Chief Communications Officer Henry Gomez.

CIO Ramon Baez, a former Kimberly-Clark Corp. executive, arrived at H-P in August 2012 Baez is overseeing testing of new products in critical areas such as servers, storage and networking. One of the biggest changes at HP during the last year is that IT is playing a bigger role in the product development process at the company, which is struggling to maintain its market share.

In addition, HP announced the election of three new board members who jointly bring significant technology, finance and turnaround experience. According to activist investor and HP board member Ralph Whitworth,” these directors will bolster an already strong group of board members.” The new members, who will start service immediately, are Robert “Dob” Bennett, former president and CEO of Liberty Media; Raymond E. Ozzie, founder of Talko Inc. and former chief software architect of Microsoft; and James A. Skinner, chairman of Walgreens and former CEO of McDonald’s Corporation. To accommodate these additions, HP increased the board’s size from nine to 12 members.

Despite such moves HP’s stock seems stuck in neutral prompting some analysts to remain skeptical about Whitman’s plan to goose HP’s performance. So what’s a CEO to do if the message isn’t quite hitting on all cylinders? Meg Whitman elaborated her thinking on LinkedIn “because the changes reflect a broader leadership philosophy that I think is relevant to any leader looking to transform their organization.

“This philosophy is straightforward and centers around one of the principles I have followed throughout my career – having the right people in the right job at the right time.

Who the right person is can greatly depend on the moment. Someone who has performed an exemplary job leading one leg of that journey may not be ideally suited for the next.

As I’ve learned throughout my career, this approach applies for all organizations. The need for the right person in the right job is even more acute, for instance, in rapidly expanding enterprises and startups. I experienced this firsthand while at eBay. As a company grows quickly, a manager who is good at running a business at one scale and revenue level may suddenly find themselves overwhelmed when the business quickly surpasses a certain point. The tendency is to think that the manager is failing. In fact, the business has simply grown beyond the manager’s skills. They need help.

As the CEO of HP, it is my job to make sure we have the right people in the right job at the right time to ensure we continue to drive the turnaround. And to empower my team to make decisions to that same end.”

It’s hard to judge the effectiveness of a single social media effort, but it’s clear the HP leader isn’t leaving anything to chance to get her message across to anyone who will listen. More and more leaders are likely to follow suit.





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