As IBM demonstrated in the 1990s, both board and shareholders need vision, patience and strong nerves to pull off such a move. HP's board has shown little evidence of either. Whatever the merits of Mr Apotheker's strategy, to panic after less than two months of announcing fundamental change sows the seeds for even more confusion.
To top it all, the board's choice of successor looks dubious at best. If Mr Apotheker was perceived to be lacking the necessary industry knowledge, Meg Whitman has even less experience running a business as complex as HP.