Phil McKinney leaves HP

More change rolls out at HP as the PC Systems Group (PSG) CTO, Phil McKinney, has announced his retirement from the company with an anticipated departure date of 31 December. This follows the horribly botched disclosure that HP was reviewing strategic options for PSG up to and including selling the business, the departure of CEO Leo Apotheker when the HP board woke up to the ramifications of what they had allowed Leo to do, and the subsequent roll-back and confirmation that HP was keeping its PC business by new CEO Meg Whitman.

Adding spice to the mix was the departure of Shane Robison, HP’s overall chief strategy and technology officer and boss of Phil McKinney. It looks to me as if Robison fell on his proverbial sword to take the blame over the strategic problems that HP has suffered recently and once Robison went and the decision was made not to replace his position, it didn’t come as a surprise that other members of his staff would follow.

Phil has a great name as an innovative thinker and it’s certainly true that he helped PSG to move from the worthy but uninspiring PCs that HP specialized in after the Compaq merger to take leadership in the PC market. Some of the designs (Envy, Blackbird, Touchscreen, and the Vivienne Westwood netbook) were interesting and brought HP into a new place. Other PSG projects were less successful, notably HP’s several forays into mobile devices from iPAQ phones that weren’t great right up to the TouchPad debacle. Even so, Phil McKinney will be a hard act to follow and PSG is losing someone who really did make a difference. I wish him well in his future endeavors, including the publication of a new book on innovation that's expected to come out in early 2012.

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