Friday, January 29, 2010

upcoming events in February

Hard to imagine that FEBRUARY 2010 is already upon us

The book continues to do well. In fact, we are thrilled with the reception to date.

February speaking events are sort of fast and furious. Each is "tailored" to the audience, there is no way that I could ever give the same talk twice anyway...

Feb 2 -- Carnegie Mellon West, streamed to CMU Pittsburgh

Feb 4 -- Google's Engineering Development Week

Feb 8 -- SLAC, Panofsky Hall

Feb 11 -- University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana (Ray's university)

Feb 16 -- Fellowship Forum of Palo Alto

Feb 17 -- Cisco Engineering Symposium

Whew! Much fun

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?).

Thursday, January 7, 2010

a long-term executive

"this book is in a word OUTSTANDING! It struck me that you had taken on 'Mission Impossible' and what a roaring success of conveying very complex organizational and strategic issues. I simply cannot imagine all the work that went into this gathering and recording of information and the horrendous book organizational issues involved in bringing the huge data base of facts/opinions into an interesting/readable book... The overall picture conveyed of what 'really' took place at HP over the years is a "REALITY SHOW" deserving of an Oscar....

"I think that this book is fair and equals reality as close as it can be approximated vs. the eulogy it could have been if done by the Packard/Hewlett families. Yes, and it's certainly obvious why HP or the families do not endorse it.

four VPs weigh in

#1 -- "I was there last night (CHM). Good job, very nice opening. You handled yourself skillfully during Q & A -- and with good humor. Sometime maybe we can have another breakfast and a friendly personal discussion over a couple of points..."

#2 -- "Many thanks for such an exhaustive history of HP and thanks also for the balanced view of my small role in the evolution of the company. You have made a valuable contribution.... I became fully aware (circa 1991) that Packard was suffering from four years without Lucile and what a marvelous and moderating influence she had been..."

#3 -- "My memory of some events involving me is slightly different than what you heard from others involved..., but I can give you an overall grade of A+. The writing and the prose was excellent, surprisingly so for this type of book. Easy reading and fascinating. The story was comprehensive and devolved into several stories. There was something for everyone."

#4 -- "Chuck doesn't just tell what worked, but also describes in details what didn't work and how challenges were solved. As with any highly successful organization there wre struggles, conflicts, and disagreements coming from a team of passionate visionaries.... Chuck, in his own unvarnished way, shares it all.... Not just a history lesson, but (it) is about what it takes to create/enable an organization to innovate and transform.... a fundamental belief in 'bottoms-up innovation' -- a trait sorely missing from many organizations today where corporate anti-bodies seem to be the norm."

a reader

From a reader: "I just finished reading The HP Phenomenon book. I am speechless. Anything I write here will fall short of the merited justice and compliments it deserves, but I'll try. I've been looking forward to the publication of the book for several years. 'What's taking them so long?' I wondered... This book about HP is not like any that I had imagined. It is awesome.
"In it there are far more details, references, interviews, individual history, product history, project history, division history, corporate history and HP history than seems possible.... I noticed, while reading each page, every line and sentence has detailed meaningful information. It surprised me how much detail is included about our competition, their history, products, and successes (or failures).
"A fine reference book. I was thankful that you covered many events, meetings, and quotes of many of our managers at HP. When I read the last page I found I had tears in my eyes because your book was a good read, sincerely appreciated, and precious. Thanks for writing it."

new month new year

And book sales are 'holding up' which is well nigh amazing. The Amazon count yesterday morning, pretty much equaled this morning, was #22,214. In "Hot New Releases" it ranks 3rd in High-Tech, 8th in Company Profiles, and 7th in Manager's Guides to Computing. 94 libraries are listed as having one, per the Google tracking site, and it managed to be on the Stanford Bookstore Best Seller list for both December and January.

More pleasing is the fact that we are getting some great testimonial letters, things that warm the cockles of your heart (or cause a tear to well in the eye). Readers, especially 'old HP' readers, seem to like it a lot. Thank goodness. If they didn't, it'd be worrisome.

And even seasoned exec's, the likes of Ely, Morton and Doyle, have read it and pronounced it sound, even as each has said something to the effect of 'here's a significant correction'