Friday, November 20, 2009

Wallenberg talk yesterday

A large number of old HP friends and colleagues, coupled with a complement of Media X followers, filled Wallenberg's Learning Center. In addition, a first for us, we did a live streaming from the talk. I even had a few books on the front table (demonstration-proof that there is a book) and the Stanford Bookstore sold some as well, I heard...
The talk began with the three points that Media X has been observing -- 1. the World is Flat, leading to both a very heightened need for collaboration and a much higher competitive pressure from 'everywhere'; 2. the Social Networking phenomenon is 'real' rather than a fad, so whether it's YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, the kids want to participate, not spectate; and 3. it isn't clear that anyone can marshal support or energy for long, drawn-out difficult scenarios ala the Global Warming issues or the Health Care debate. Participants are just not inclined to be followers, so there is kind of a double whammy happening here.
Then it moved to a thesis about Company Leadership styles -- including both the Tops Down vs. Bottoms Up duality, and the Engineer Led vs the Business Led duality. The assertion is that "the Old HP" was Bottoms Up / Engineer Led (Intel was and mostly still is Tops Down / Engineer Led), and that such a company is vastly more apt to be innovative, and able to renew than a company managed for productivity, profitability, and efficiency. Not necessarily better, and almost certainly less effective in the short time, but more resilient and more apt to create new jobs, especially new kinds of jobs.
And then some stories from the book -- and Packard's resolute reluctance for almost every new market shift, but nonetheless, willing to let it play out and have the market decide, plus betting on the enthusiasm, drive and perseverance of the 'innovative kids'.
Great good fun, at least from my perspective