Patricia Russo

HP's big reboot: A new board for a new era

February 22, 2011: 5:00 AM ET

HP's five new directors will have little to do with this quarter's likely solid earnings, but they will shape the company for decades to come.

By Ram Charan, contributor

HP CEO Leo Apotheker and Chairman Ray Lane

HP CEO Leo Apotheker and Chairman Ray Lane

In order to reboot for 2011, Hewlett Packard announced in January that it was bringing on five new members to its board of directors, replacing four others who wouldn't stand for re-election. The move came just weeks ahead of today's earnings announcement, where CEO Leo Apotheker seems set to report strong revenue gains for his new company. Governance experts might normally say a wholesale move like that is a sign of trouble. In fact at HP, it's just the opposite.  HP (HPQ) was doing what every board should:  overhauling its composition to fit the changing times. Here's why:

As we've seen with recent bankruptcies, notably Circuit City's, a company's demise is now, more than ever a consequence of the actions and inactions taken by its board of directors. A board that lacks knowledge or fails to act can destroy shareholder value just as quickly as a compensation or accounting scandal or internal power struggle.   And make no mistake – boards are increasingly being held accountable for company performance, as much as or even more so than the CEO. More

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