Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lunch with Paul Ely

I got a call from Paul Ely the other day, and he invited me to lunch at the Sharon Heights Golf Club to talk about his reaction to my "Secret Sauce" lecture which is still posted on the MediaX website

He focused on several elements -- one was the 15% "breakthrough ideas" funding; another was the role of the Silicon on Sapphire and the Gallium Arsenide work for HP leadership in microwave communications, followed by LEDs, and inexplicably but vastly important in inks for the later Inkjet business.

He also spent some time on The HP Way, and how he thought it emanated from the founders; he put a reverent, almost religious, tone on it, while agreeing that he never heard them talk in such terms, but clearly they were enlightened in terms of the dignity of EVERY individual who worked for the company. This is not to be confused with "soft-headed" management; we both had no trouble agreeing that they were very hard-headed business guys who set an absolute standard of excellence for work done.

Paul, in my view, was the ONE cog in a long pantheon of HP folk without whom there clearly would not be an HP today in computing. Birnbaum later would provide the competitive strategy that worked for enterprise activities; it would not have been possible or needed without Paul's pioneering leadership. Great to meet a legend, and hear his considered opinion.

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