Saturday, May 5, 2012

HP memories vs reality today

Marc Mislanghe has been busy compiling memoirs of oldtimer HP types at   New entries include Hank Taylor, Jim Hall, Art Fong, John Minck, and myself -- a small panoply of perspectives from yesteryear.  You might say, "WHO CARES?"

The answer could very well be -- "well, it seems like a thousand people a day care" to judge from the Google Analytics.  Not bad for an obscure website from a southern Frenchman near Birrritz, France who has been collecting HP instruments and computers for a decade "just 'cuz he loves 'em"

Each of these memoirs offers a glimpse inside a company that valued initiative and innovation at every job, every level of the company.  They speak volumes to the idea that "bottoms-up" innovation works, and mostly works better than leadership at the top because, as Packard insisted, "those closest to the problem are the best ones to see a solution to it."

I don't have a favorite in the set, but I will especially mention Taylor's memoir, just because it focuses on innovation in Corporate Infrastructure, rather than products or field sales or marketing -- and such contributions are both harder to see and more systemic -- hence very seldom do they get mentioned.  Ray Price and I found so much of this that we devoted a chapter -- "Secret Sauce" -- to it in our book HP Phenomenon.  Hank does a first-rate job of describing this in multiple efforts at HP.

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