The HP Way

I fell in love with my HP Touchsmart TX2 when I bought it back in 2008.  It was THE coolest thing to hit the market. But what happened to HP after that?  (The Dell craze is real in the corporate world!)

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The Hewlett-Packard Company has some difficulty with competition in certain areas, but the concern in this case study is their internal struggle with “outsiders” and the “HP Way”. HP’s culture is very strongly tied to the founders and has a family feel to it. However, the problem is when an “outsider”, such as Fiorina, takes the lead; their decisions are scrutinized and if it doesn’t fit the “HP Way” the leader will not be supported. Michael Hurd recognized this when he took over as CEO and took a slow approach to making any changes. He was sure to let employees know he read the HP Way book, to show that he cares about preserving the culture. Having a strong, positive culture is great and I do like that there is a communication team and that they hold regular team meetings–that is a definite strength in its own. Many companies, such as the one I work for, underestimate the important of having a communication department.

Nash, the vice president for corporate communication, should consult HP’s public relations, corporate advocacy, investor relations, community relations, and crisis management functions (assuming they have all these functions). Nash may want to call a meeting with one key person from each function to gather their initial thoughts and develop a fail proof strategy in how to respond (or not respond) to this situation. I would suggest responding to this, as it will negatively affect the public’s opinion of the company. In analyzing their response to this, they must consider the objectives to align with the company, resources needed, constituencies (targeted audiences), and whether or not the company will respond with a direct, indirect, or no message.

Nash is going to have trouble proving to the public that the company really does want to be transparent. As the textbook says, “The Company had always set out to establish an air of total transparency in communications with both its investors and its broader public” and now it is in the middle of a scandal all about privacy concerns (Argenti, 2009, p. 66). I would suggest that Nash direct the company to reinforce their desire to be transparent by announcing a new plan, product, acquisition, or any other large decision to their investors and the public. This can be done in the CEO’s letter in the next annual report or by holding a press conference or through a press release.

The head of corporate communication should be sitting at the table with senior staff during their monthly strategic meetings. Sadly, there are still many companies that don’t understand this yet. Corporate communication must be there to help the company advance its strategic goals by aligning the communication strategies with the business values, objectives, and vision. The VP of corporate communication would take the direction provided by the senior staff to guide the objectives of the community relations, media relations, and all other communication functions in the company. With everyone working together toward one goal, the company has a much greater chance at being successful.


Argenti, P. (2009). Corporate Communication, 5th Edition [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from

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