The purpose of this paper is to show some history on how Hewlett-Packard manages change and what was good, bad and perhaps ugly in terms of leadership.
Activities Contributing to Effective Change Management
Section 1: Creating a Vision
Hewlett –Packard (HP) is one of the biggest players in the technology industry. In the years that it has been in operation, the company has had to implement a wide range of changes. That the implementation of these changes was largely successful is not in question. Evidence for this lies in the position that HP occupies in the technology industry. Given that it is a leader in this industry, it must be that the company has a history of managing change effectively. In the following discussion, the first step of managing change is explored. This discussion is offered with the aim of facilitating the understanding of the factors that have allowed HP to manage change properly.
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Describing the Core Ideology.
It appears that before the implementation of any change, HP begins by defining its own ideology. The vision that the company has adopted appears to offer direction for the management of change. The company’s stated vision is “to create technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere…”. Given this vision statement, it would be expected that all changes that the company implements are intended to facilitate the development of products and services that enhance the lives of customers, employees and other stakeholders that the company engages with.
In the discussion above, the vision that HP pursues has been identified. One of the changes that the company instituted which allows one to understand how the company defines its ideology regards leadership management. In 2013, the company conducted a shake-up of its leadership. This shake-up saw the company bring new leaders on board. The leadership change was intended to reverse the decline in the company’s revenue. Among the changes that the company introduced as part of the leadership shake-up included the promotion of Bill Veghte to the position of executive vice president. Previously, Vehgte served as the company’s chief operating officer. The company also announced that Dave Donatelli would be assigned the mandate of identifying promising and new technologies. While it is true that the company did not explicitly define its core ideology when it made the leadership changes, it can be inferred that the company’s vision inspired the changes. This company wishes to create technologies that deliver benefits for everyone, everywhere. The leadership changes are clearly in service of its vision. The changes serve to indicate that HP begins its change management process by providing clear definitions for its core ideology and aligning the changes to its overall vision. By defining its vision, hp managed to tackle one of the fundamental challenges of change management. Companies usually encounter difficulties in their attempts to clearly define the goals that they wish to achieve (Pryor et al., 2008).
Constructing the Envisioned Future.
Constructing the future that one envisions is the second phase of the stage involving the creation of a vision during change management (Cummings & Worley, 2014). When implementing change, it is important to anticipate the impacts that the change will have (Langley et al., 2013). This is done by constructing the envisioned future. When one examines a number of changes that HP has put in place, they are able to understand that the company envisions the future that it desires to walk into. As HP introduced the new leaders, it made it clear that it wished to make progress in its turnaround. Before the leadership changes, the company had been suffering financial challenges. Its share price had dropped and it had witnessed a decline in its revenues. The leadership changes were aimed at addressing these challenges.
During the implementation of change, it is important to prepare stakeholders for the effects of the change (Pryor et al., 2008). This means that companies need to be realistic and honest with shareholders. As it announced the leadership changes, HP warned its stakeholders that it would continue to witness harsh operating conditions. The company’s CEO, Meg Whitman warned that it was unlikely to witness an increase in revenue as a result of the cut-throat competition that was being posed by other players in the industry. It is true that this warning might have had the effect of causing panic among investors and other stakeholders. However, the company must be lauded for creating a realistic future. This is an integral component of creating a vision during change management.
Section 2: Motivating Change
The need for companies to create a vision as the first step in the change management process cannot be overstated (Hornstein, 2015). However, the creation of a vision has little effect if it is not accompanied by concrete actions. During the management of change, companies need to bring other stakeholders on board. Creating motivation among such stakeholders as employees is one of the measures that can be instituted to ensure that the change management occurs without a hitch. In the discussion that follows, an examination of how HP readies its stakeholders for change is offered. This discussion is intended to highlight the best practices and the pitfalls that are encountered in the implementation of change.
Creating Readiness for Change.
It is vital to ensure that stakeholders anticipate and are ready for change. This allows for smooth implementation of change. When the stakeholders feel ambushed by the change, they are unlikely to offer their support. Informing employees and other stakeholders of the imminent change is one of the measures that can be taken to create readiness for change. It is important to allow the stakeholders to make adjustments so as to facilitate effective implementation (Domingues et al., 2017). HP understands the need to ready its employees for change. When Meg Whitman was brought in as the new CEO, she embarked on a campaign to introduce herself to the company’s employees. Engineers and managers are some of the employees that she introduced herself to. The introductions that Whitman carried out were not pointless. They were intended to allow the employees to understand that they would be taking instructions from a new boss. These introductions are not strange since it is common practice for new leaders to introduce themselves to their juniors.
Joshua Brusse serves as the Chief Architect for the Japan and Asia Pacific markets. He penned an article in which he described the change management process. He identifies some of the steps that companies need to take as they implement change. The internalization of the change is one of the factors that he sheds light on. He argues that it is important for the stakeholders to make sense of the change through internalization. They need to understand that the changes that are being introduced will deliver benefits and are better than the system that is currently in use. Since Brusse serves in a senior capacity at HP, it can be argued that his thoughts are a reflection of the practices at HP. Assuming this to be true, it can be said that internalization is one of the ways that HP uses to prepare its stakeholders for change. Through internationalization, the employees and other stakeholders make peace with the change and are less likely to mount any opposition to the change.
Internalization and introductions are not the only methods that HP uses to create readiness for change. The company also relies on employee engagement as it seeks to build support for change. The company ensures that its employees are part of the implementation of change from the beginning of the change implementation process (Worley & Mohrman, 2014). By involving employees at all stages, HP discourages discontent and resistance. This has been credited with fuelling the success that the company continues to enjoy. HP serves as a textbook example of the benefits that are enjoyed by companies that bring employees and other stakeholders on board during the change implementation process.
Overcoming Resistance to Change.
Resistance from employees and other stakeholders is one of the factors that hinder the smooth implementation of change (Song, 2009). Since support from employees is needed for change to be implemented successfully, companies need to ensure that they gain the full support of their employees. While HP has strived to win the backing of its employees as it implements change, there have been numerous instances when the company has failed to streamline its processes to minimize change. When Meg Whitman took over the leadership of the company, she was unable to overcome resistance. During her address to the company’s employees, she was unable to obtain their attention. Most of the employees were using their mobile phones to broadcast her comments. Whitman failed to exercise wise leadership to handle this situation. Instead of appealing to the employees to support her, she lambasted them. She accused them of taking leaking to a new art form. Whitman’s actions demonstrate her inability to seek support. Leaders need to understand that their juniors are independent entities that must be treated with respect. They should never use insults and intimidation to obtain the support of their juniors. Diplomacy and sober discussions hold the key to resolving crises and gaining support from one’s juniors.
In an earlier discussion, it was mentioned that HP prepares its employees for change by making sure that they are involved in all aspects of change implementation. This measure does more than prepare the employees for the change. The involvement of the employees also serves to minimize resistance (Adenle, 2015). Since they are involved in the change implementation, the employees feel that they are respected and that they are part-owners of the changes being implemented. The involvement of the employees offers them a personal incentive to remain committed to the implementation process.
Section 3: Creating Changes
The main purpose of preparing employees for change and addressing resistance is to create change. HP clearly understands this. Having laid the ground for change, the company usually proceeds to implement the change. Carly Fiorina once served as the company’s chief executive. During her leadership, HP attempted to enter into a merger with Compaq (Larcker & Tayan, 2011). This merger did not receive the support of all the stakeholders. There were some individuals such as Walter Hewlett who did not think that the merger would deliver any meaningful benefit for the company (Grieves, 2010). Fiorina was convinced that the merger with Compaq held the key to addressing the competitive challenges that the company was facing. She fiercely fought for the two companies to merge. She oversaw a massive restructuring of the company to create an environment that would allow for the merger to occur. What followed this restructuring was a series of poor financial performance that threatened the company’s position in the technology industry (Grieves, 2010). Fiorina was fired for her improper handling of the situation. The attempts by HP to join forces with Compaq underscore the need for sober leadership and consultative implementation of change. Instead of building consensus and obtaining the support of all concerned stakeholders, Fiorina turned to bullying. Her dismissal and the years of financial challenges that HP faced represent the devastation that can occur as a result of poor leadership. There is need for leaders to adopt change management processes that encourage inclusive participation and consultations.
The discussion above makes it clear that there have been instances where HP has blunders in the creation of change. Another incident where the company failed to properly create change occurred in 2004. The company sought to centralize its systems in the North American market (Pepijn, n.d). The firm failed to anticipate that numerous challenges could occur at the same time. Many challenges did arise and the firm was overwhelmed. While the company eventually managed to centralize its systems, the project cost more than the projected cost (Pepijn, n.d). Backlogs were also witnessed. This incident points to the need for companies to anticipate challenges and put in place measures for addressing these challenges.
Section 4: Managing Change
The implementation of change does not mark the end of the change management process. This stage needs to be followed by a phase where leaders closely manage change (Walton & Russell, n.d.). Communication and engagement seem to be the concepts that HP adopts in its management of change. In his article on the effective management of change, Joshua Brusse advises companies to keep communication channels open and to engage their employees. In an earlier discussion, it was assumed that Brusse represents the policies that HP has adopted. It can therefore be argued that effective communication and constant engagement with employees are some of the measures that the company institutes as it manages change.
In addition to keeping communication channels open and engaging with employees, it appears that able leadership is another component of HP’s management of change. This is clear when one examines the insights that Brusse shares in his article. He recommends that leaders should be in the forefront of change implementation. They should set the standards and examples that their juniors may emulate. Again, it can be assumed that Brusse offers a reflection of HP’s practices. This assumption implies that HP’s leaders are closely involved in the management of change. While Brusse’s ideas offer an indication of the policies and practices that HP has adopted, an actual example of change management at the company will offer a better representation of the firm’s practices. In 2007, Gerald Wright was tasked with the mandate of addressing flaws in the company’s compensation structure. Wright used bottom-up, top-down and lateral mobilization to execute this mandate. The method that he used indicates that all stakeholders in the company were involved in the implementation process. Wright’s leadership suggests that HP’s leadership keeps a close eye on the change implementation process to ensure that it proceeds smoothly.
Section 5: Evaluating Change
The evaluation of change marks the end of the change management process. Essentially, evaluation involves monitoring change to ensure that it achieves the desired outcomes. There are a number of tools that HP uses for evaluation. Financial metrics are among these. To understand the impact of the changes that it has implemented, the company examines financial data. For instance, following the introduction of new leaders, the company warned that it did not expect its financial situation to change in the immediate future. Before it issued this warning, the company must have examined financial projections. The poor outlook that the company developed offers insights into the effects of the change in leadership. It is important to note that this outlook only applied to the near future and does not offer a comprehensive reflection of the true effects of the change in leadership. The company indicated that it hoped that the change in leadership would usher a period of financial success. This is clear indication that the changes that it had implemented would have the desired effects.
The technology industry is rather volatile. Changes with far-reaching effects are usually implemented by the players in the industry. HP is among the companies that have adopted a wide range of changes as it seeks to solidify its position in this industry. The changes have ranged from the introduction of new leaders to the centralization of systems. HP has developed an elaborate process for managing these changes. Employee involvement and consultation with stakeholders are among the elements that constitute this process. It is true that some of the changes that HP has implemented have had negative consequences. However, it must be remembered that most of the changes have been positive. The success that HP enjoys today points to the effectiveness of its change management process. Firms which wish to enjoy similar success need to adopt HP’s process.
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