Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dave Packard goes to Washington -- part 1

The quintessential Packard was the man who refused to accept the ruling of the War Resources Board in 1942 when they felt the company was making excessive profits and paying extraordinary wages via the unique profit sharing plan. Packard described it quite succinctly in The HP Way: “I felt very strongly about this issue . . . and they said I would have to take my case to Washington. I did so and worked out an agreement with the government that gave our company virtually everything we asked for.”[i] Omitted from the passage in his book – (a) he was only 29 years old; (b) his company had eight full-time employees; (c) Washington D.C. was a besieged wartime bureaucratic snarl; (d) his profit-sharing plan and his salary being kept the same as Bill Hewlett’s ($110/mo) while Hewlett was in the Army were both highly unorthodox; and (e) he went by train both ways, so this excursion took him eight days.

In short, this was nearly preposterous on the surface of it. So the phrase “I worked out an agreement that gave us virtually everything we asked for” had a lot of emotional undercurrent. Dave got things done – he seldom described how.

Questions: Why did he think he could do it? How did he do it? Would anyone you know have tried such a thing?
[i] Packard, The HP Way, p. 58.

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