Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who is writing this blog?

From a blog posting June 1,2009 by Joel Birnbaum, long-time R&D leader for HP, and definer of the HP/PA computing program, commenting about Chuck House and the new book by him and his co-author Ray Price:

"When I came to HP as a rare outsider hired into a high position, many people advised me to look up Chuck as someone who really understood the soul of the company. He was famous within HP for his wit, his creativity, and his willingness to speak out against things that he thought short-sighted or self-serving. I found that he more than deserved his reputation.

"His soon to be published book (The HP Phenomenon: Innovation and Business Transformation, Stanford Press, 2009), for which I was interviewed extensively, is likely to find wide acceptance and is a marvel of careful research and writing.

"Chuck is a witty, daring and very effective speaker, and during our time together at HP, he lent his name to many causes that resulted in dramatic improvements... not always with the prior approval of upper management. HP was eventually proud of these sometimes irreverent accomplishments, and many found their way into the literature and are in wide use in the industry today.

"For all of his career, Chuck's signature style has been his refusal to accept the status quo for purely historical reasons, and to think creatively and deeply about a problem or opportunity and then, often with recruited partners, to seek a novel solution. Chuck's style, while often flamboyant to attract attention to his causes, is inherently a modest one.


Fred said...

Joel was, still is, a very perceptive judge of people (well, he hired me into the PA program!). I would say that he calibrated you pretty well. I was an experienced engineer when I joined HP and was immediately impressed by the quality of the people and the culture of the company. There was such a vibrancy and everyone was eager to make a contribution, not for ego, but for the common good and the objectives of the company.

I am retired now but, from what I learn, sadly, the unique character of the company is gone. It is now just a hire and fire company, squeezing employees, suppliers and partners in a totally impersonal way. In your cogitations, you might want to ponder whether this transformation for the worse is the result of importing outside CEO's.

Best of luck.

chuck said...

I couldn't agree more, but I do agree that under Lew's "hands-off" leadership, the strong emphasis on performance that characterized the company under all three previous CEOs seemed to ebb. Joel comments to that in our book; I buy the thesis, and given the infighting that had developed at the Exec Staff level, it was hard not to go outside. In retrospect, much was lost...

Fred said...

Thanks for the reply. I am not suggesting that the next CEO must be organically grown. It would be foolish and arrogant for HP folks to think so; the values of the HP Way are not exclusive. From inside or outside, the new CEO must share these values and apply them in balance with the sagacity and agility needed to swim with the sharks in today's business waters.

Those were unfortunate times. It is sad that the last leader felt that turning the company into a Walmart was the solution.

I agree with the comment about Lew's CEO days. I witnessed too much internal elbowing and navel gazing and not enough forward movement. We lost the spirit to innovate and win. It seemed like HP folks were living in a house without windows, totally oblivious of the world at large.