Monday, January 11, 2010

HP Labs is alive and well... well, alive at least

I had a rare privilege today, invited to HP Labs in Palo Alto to talk about the book and about recent events at HP. Last Friday's ACM Communications had Prith Banerjee (HP Labs VP) featured for a full page about "8 Big Bets" and the redirection of the labs -- very timely

Counting an overflow room, we had 150+ folk show up, sort of amazing by my count. Stanford Bookstore graciously donated a person to provide some books for signing, at a 20% discount yet since the book now is on their Top Ten list (for the second month in a row).

Discussion was wide-ranging -- (a) explain 'next-bench syndrome' in today's terms; (b) what WAS the definition of a 'G-job' and how did it work (i.e. how can I get 10% time to work on things I think are important); (c) software contributions are easier today than ever, EXCEPT there are no divisions in that business, so who do you transfer to; and (d) explain again what it means to get a 'medal of defiance' without getting fired.

Afterward, at a small lunch, we got 'down and dirty' about some specific ideas, in areas that I have passion for, such as immersive communications. And I was thrilled to hear thoughts every bit as bold, exciting, and pioneering as I had ever experienced from HP Labs folk. I think the place can still thrive, if the 'leaders' get out of the way (oh, where have we heard that refrain before?).