Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Still asking about the book

Stanford University Press, available in September 2009, 640 pp. We've been through picture collection, approvals from various sources, vetting by many, and not a few disclaimers and skirmishes in the past year. Difficult to write a book that has so much (debatable) history; much like the old "telephone" game used as an icebreaker at parties.

One venerable Valley leader re-wrote his quoted passages six times over two weekends; several shied away from their oral interviews but allowed some of the material to survive the scrutiny of day. HP PR made it absolutely clear that HP was not a supporter of the book -- it is not ENDORSED by the current regime. But they did agree to let Mark Hurd's picture appear alongside the five previous CEO portraits.

The book is not a quick read. It doesn't fit the Harvard Business Press model, of a simple thesis repeated four times in 200 pp, with a catchy phrase that becomes the next fad. Think for example about the catch phrase "Core Competence" that has led to more companies outsourcing their crown jewels and chance for innovative corpoate renewal than anyone would ever have conceived when the article was first published.

What it does do is outline how HP, more than any other company in history, was able to renew itself time after time, building new strengths in areas hardly recognizable to the earlier teams, and doing so successfully enough to keep the company on a strong growth trajectory for seven decades. It is a story we think worth telling, and it is a shame that an average of only ten pages are available for each $2 Billion in sales and year of existence. Obviously it had to be culled mercilessly to get to a mere 640 pp. And all that for only $35.00 at your neighborhood retail bookstore.


Anonymous said...

very much looking forward to it.

(have you heard of the recent cuts at hp labs?)

chuck said...

Yes, four of the 23 lab sections reportedly are atomized. All in overseas labs. Much angst...