With the recent news about Sanjay Kumar stepping down - leaving Computer Associates virtually CEO-free for an undetermined time - there has been much speculation about the vulnerability of CA in terms of customer loyalty. And while of course competitors will want to paint a picture of CA as a wounded creature, limping from uncertainty and the stigma of corruption, it is a cartoon image that would appear to be out of line with reality.With the recent news about Sanjay Kumar stepping down - leaving Computer Associates with only an interim CEO for an undetermined time - there has been much speculation about the vulnerability of CA in terms of customer loyalty. And while of course competitors will want to paint a picture of CA as a wounded creature, limping from uncertainty and the stigma of corruption, it is a cartoon image that would appear to be out of line with reality.Computer Associates has begun a deliberate, if slow, \u201ccultural revolution\u201d that\u2019s probably more aptly described as \u201ccultural evolution.\u201d The characteristics of the \u201ccultural evolution\u201d include more open industry dialog, and with that:\u00a0* A less defensive posture vis-\u00e0-vis industry questioning* A clear focus on customer loyalty - away from autocratic account control and towards more of a partnership role with customers* An investment in understanding clients\u2019 evolutionary requirements from a pragmatic, rather than absolutist perspective* An evolving architectural vision that reflects a similar openness to third-party brands, along with distributed analytics* A proactive posture towards investment in areas critical to its success, such as advanced analytics and security - well reflected in the acquisition of Silent Runner from Raytheon last year* A new focus on cross-brand integration across security, network\/systems management and storage that, while still apparently undefined in specifics, could become a viable path for industry leadershipThese, in my opinion, are the real foundations of what CA - at least, potentially - could become. And while Kumar\u2019s role in the above \u201cevolution,\u201d has been significant, he is really just one of many contributors - which is as it should be.So what does CA have to do to weather this hopefully modest storm? While America has a CEO cult, I am not a believer in it. In the best of all worlds, CEOs are not strutting prima donnas but articulate facilitators. Above all, they must be good and creative listeners, willing to broker innovation that participates in their vision, but does not necessarily stem from it.Interim leadership at CA will become a significant problem only if the relevant creative forces within the company behind this \u201ccultural evolution\u201d become stymied, introverted and secretive. It will become a significant factor if the investment in innovation, dialog and \u201cnext steps\u201d is put on hold for political reasons, as the company listens for someone new to set the agenda. And it will become a fatal factor if a new, non-interim\u00a0CEO decides to erase the positive investments from the recent past for his or her own egocentric attempt to reinvent the wheel.\u00a0Barring disruptive politics, CA\u2019s agenda has largely been set. Moreover, it is a good and an ambitious one. The company is partway there in many respects, but it has a lot of work yet to do to flesh out its strategy in everything from role-based consoles (potentially across security, network management and storage) to distributed analytics (across the above), to other critical areas of synergy and innovation. And while CA clearly needs an \u201coutsider\u201d for credibility, the worst-case scenario for CA would be to hire a CEO who mistakes vision with politics, treats the company as a tabula rasa, and decides to build a new agenda from scratch. I\u2019ve seen this happen many times - almost invariably with destructive results.CA will be fine, as long as it invests in finding someone willing to promote and accelerate a direction of openness, dialog and facilitation. If it opts for the tyrant with a \u201cnew personal agenda\u201d - well then, it will be handing its competitors undeserved and unwarranted opportunities for encroachment.