Saturday, July 25, 2009

a rare privilege

Phil McKinney, the CTO for HP's Personal Computer Group, invited me down to Cupertino yesterday for a "living legends" interview. He has a PodCast service, and he has recently interviewed Art Fong and Dave Cochran. What an honor to be included with them!

Phil is one of those firebrands, with red hair, a wiry beard, and a ready smile. He is Irish through and through, though we did the interview without libation. He is the genius behind HP's new Vivianne Tan netbook, a cosmetic accessory that hiked the price and sold out within days for the distaff half. He has been involved with many more serious pursuits as well, including the VoodooPC acquisition to position HP much more strongly in the games/virtual reality space.

The questions were great -- what made you pick HP in the first place? When and why did you leave? How would you suggest that innovation be kept alive in a large, nay HUGE, company? What were you most proud of? Tell me the REAL story behind the Medal of Defiance....

We chatted for the better part of two hours. He is a skillful interviewer, and he clearly brings passion and desire to his job. My guess is that people who work around Phil McKinney would agree that HP still has the HP Way working. What a privilege!

Friday, July 24, 2009

indexing MBWA in the book

MBWA -- Management by Wandering Around -- is covered in the book in several places. A quick perusal of the index shows the following pp: 7, 65, 80, 85, 277, 358, 374, 530-31

the HP Way is covered in much more depth, to wit, pp: 5, 9, 78, 113, 120-21, 217, 284, 295, 325, 385, 402, 404, 452; business value, 30, 34, 465; challenged, 277, 284, 358, 385, 436; by computer folk, 126, 169, 191, 210; by Fiorina, 2, 383, 439, 442, 450, 453, 463, 473, 474-75, 477-78, 482-83, 515; by Hackborn, 438, 453; by Hurd, 3-4, 437, 475, 477, 480, 483, 497, 514; by Yansouni, 329; by Young, 245, 479, 484; compared to..., 19, 116, 456-57; 501; definition, 7, 21, 23, 35-36, 89, 177, 282, 382-84, 469, 486-87, 536; espoused (by Barnholt, 422, 465; by Doyle, 463; by Platt, 386, 390, 393, 484-85; irrelevant, 34, 404, 419, 507; nine-day fortnight, 158, 452; resilience, 383, 469, 473; scaling, 60, 62-63, 79, 84; teaching, 197, 199, 276, 484

the HP Way (Packard's book), 14, 28, 540

The HP Way ... still alive?

The HP Alumni Association has had a brief and wonderfully spirited exchange these past few days about MBWA and the HP Way. One particularly great input came from Myron Tuttle, a 28 year veteran:

"I remeber hearing a story about Bill walking into one of the manufacturing lines (I think it was Santa Clara) and after talking to one of the production people took the instrument they were assembling and dropped it to the floor -- just to see how sturdy it was. Shortly after that a (polite) memo was sent to Corporate that Bill and Dave would no longer be allowed into the divisions unannounced or unescorted. They caused too much disruption to the production lines!

"One day I was eating lunch (I think it was in 5L) and Bill was there carrying his tray to a table. He saw a spill on the floor, set his tray on a table, and went and got a towel to wipe it up. Somehow I just can't see Carly or Mark doing something like that. (I don't know if either of them have even ever seen the employee cafeteria.)

"Wonderful memories. But those were the days

"Myron Tuttle, HP 1974-2002, APD, DTD, POD... NSD

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Indexing the book

Twelve thousand seven hundred thirty one citations in the indices (so far), and going blind from the process. B-trieve datatables and search terms for pdf. files are helpful, but not perfect. For example, Hennessy (a big name at Stanford, and this is a Stanford Press book, recall) was spelt correctly on the submitted pages, but not on the pageproofs. And a search block didn't find the misspellings, which of course are what you are looking for primarily.

Speaking of going blind, I thought that I was -- this is a lot of text, and reading/rereading has taken a toll. Mostly psychologically, I tried to convince myself. But upon reflection, I had had one of those funny little incidents, where some big reddish floaters appeared in one eye after awakening one day. I don't know about you, but I usually go to the Web to do some investigative self diagnosis. This said, go see an eye doc. Well, I was in Italy, and the floaters sank out of sight in a few hours, and ...

Anyway, more recently I seemed unable to focus on small print stuff, and lo that eye doc idea resurfaced. After an immodest four hours of tests, and learning about optical coherence tomography, I was pleased (I think) to learn that I have Macular Pucker, which is somewhat better than a lot of other things it could have been. First of all, it is not degenerative, and is not particularly disabling. So that's great. Second, it is to some degree amenable to surgical fix -- though not able to restore what was once (hell, I've got lots of things that will never again be as they once were).

OCT was basically invented circa 1995 at MIT, and this version of equipment dates to early 2003. There is stuff now that is 100x as sensitive, able to pinpoint tumors and all manner of problems. Now if we could just match real-time surgical tools to these highly accurate imaging tools, what a breakthrough that would be. The OCT technique relies on a combination of sonar, backscattering lightwaves, and transmission differences in sub-surface retinal tissue -- oldtimers at HP might call it Time Domain Reflectometry ala Barney Oliver's old thesis that Lee Moffitt productized beautifully before he left for a career at Bell Labs. Damn, now that I think about it, I didn't include TDR or Lee in the book.

Ah, well, viva those medical instruments that rely on great physics...

Calif governor contenders

Some are asking -- what's with ex-CEOs running for public office, especially in these hard times? Not everyone recalls when H. Ross Perot ran twice for President, probably drawing enough support in 1992 to swing the election to Clinton. The great thing then, or joke depending on your persuasion, was his strong use of pie charts and graphs -- typecast him immediately as "gasp" an engineer. So now we have, in the broken financial state of California, vying for the chance to become the governor, two Republicans -- Carly Fiorina, ex-CEO of HP, and Meg Whitman, retired CEO of E-Bay.

They had very different exits from their respective CEO roles.

Fiorina, mostly vilified for breaking the vaunted HP Way, and a terrible approach to "the people", not to mention a dumb strategy to buy Compaq after a ludicrous failed attempt to buy PricewaterhouseCoopers for whopping big money. The Board, belatedly said many, gave her the boot unceremoniously; the old guard danced for joy (that is, until the next one brought PRETEXTING into the vocabulary).

Whitman, almost reverently revered for her kindly and mannerly approach, plus her clear success in leading EBay from a virtual standing start to a global powerhouse.

The irony today is that the E-Bay strategy has been described in many circles, by Whitman's chosen replacement and several Board members, not to mention pundits galore, as BROKEN, and the company is trying hard to figure out how to remake itself to "save itself" from disaster.

HP, meanwhile, was able to displace Dell despite all the pundits, and it did so quietly, but with vengeance almost from the hour that Fiorina inked the deal. Granted, it took three years to catch them, and two more to thump them, but she did see the opportunity and seized the momentum when almost everyone decried it. And the PwC deal? Despite the hype about overpricing, IBM wound up paying 92% of Fiorina's offer (in post denominated $$$), and it is today the basis of more than 60% of their total business. Hurd read the tea leaves, one might assert, and bought the nearest competitor with the EDS purchase -- and services for HP are now larger than printing/imaging/ink as a collective group, not to mention those PCs and enterprise servers. Imagine -- HP's seventh incarnation, services, which last quarter became the #1 play of HP.

So, the choice for the Republican nominee will likely pit two or three classic politicos against a friendly non-strategist and a combative leader. Recall that Churchill only got the nod in wartime