Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a cornucopia about to flow

we're starting to have HP writers... hooray.

For some reason, for the first seventy years of HP's history, no HP executive ever published a book about the company, or even their own experiences. Sure, there was Barbara Waugh's personal saga which is a wonderful tale from an HR and humanistic perspective. And Dave Kirby and Karen Lewis helped ghost Packard's autobiography.

John Minck continues to update his essay about HP roots and personalities, first published almost twenty years ago now. Gosh, does that seem possible?

Now, there are new encouraging signs. John Stedman, who provided significant help for Ray Price and me on our book re the peripherals history, has published his memoirs, a 400 page extended essay that HP buffs will find interesting. He includes much about HP's move into Bristol England as well as the Boise, Idaho experiences.

More significantly, Webb McKinney is engaged in writing 'the story' of the last twenty years, from his vantage point on Lew Platt's and Carly Fiorina's staffs. Webb managed the integration of Compaq and HP, one of the alltime best large-company "mergers" He has been working with Robert Burgelman at Stanford's Business School on this project. They have a singularly effective article about HP's failure to seize the network hub business that I heartily endorse. This could be one of the best business books about a large company in search of keeping its excellence. I can hardly wait. Burgelman is well known for his close association with Andy Grove and the Intel story; his involvement will doubtless help the sales by giving the book credibility at the major business schools, something that we managed to avoid by taking our own approach rather than the Harvard Biz Press model.


Anonymous said...

... HP's failure to seize the network hub business ...

They could always 'acquire' Cisco. (grin)

chuck said...

I erred when I said that John Stedman had published his memoirs. He has indeed written them, but only for his own family. Lots of personal stuff involved... as many of you can well appreciate.

The good news is that Jim Hall, of LaserJet leadership fame, has a fifteen page document ready for release. Following the Computer History Museum Timeline release in January, this is an important addition.

McKinney's book is "in process" -- a number of interviews are completed, and the team feels that it has some great new material.

We'll have the semblence of history collected about this legendary company sometime