Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bill Hewlett and David Packard - The HP That Was...

"...The Sky Shall Blow the Heavens into Stars..."

September, 2011.

I was reminded today by Jennifer Shutwell, (Leopard and Senior Consultant at Photizo) about "the HP Way".  A set of norms and values HP, the company, lived by and extolled.

I decided to learn more.

Wandering around the 'net, hunting down the HP that was, I found myself a bit morose and feeling bad for today's HP employees, the HP'rs who have been there for more then 5 years.

The ones who bought into the HP ideals -  respect, achievement, contribution, integrity, teamwork, flexibility and innovation.

Those who didn't believe in product launches, silo'd divisions, marketing-by-chaos, press leaks, bribes, spying on employees, questionable expense accounts, revolving door leadership, pompous, aloof executives shouting "ka-ching" on stage or the decimation of every channel birthed.

No.  Right now, I see ten's of thousands of HP employees feeling betrayed, alone and broken.

I mean, where do you go after HP?

If a company, an American Company, one that was built out of a garage on a foundation of hard work, failure and recovery, American ingenuity and honesty can let you down, who can you trust?

Who can you believe in?  General Motors?  General Electric? Boeing?

I wonder how many really, great employees scrambled away or where turned out by HP over the past decade?  How many opportunities were missed, squandered, thrown away, because the HP board appointed oh so many wrong CEO's.

How often do you think innovation was squashed, hidden and digested within the bowls of that once great ship?

Below are three quotes from Bill and Dave. Great stuff, from great minds, supporting a once great company.

1. The greatest success goes to the person who is not afraid to fail in front of even the largest audience.

2. Set out to build a company and make a contribution, not an empire and a fortune.

3. The best possible company management is one that combines a sense of corporate greatness and destiny, with empathy for, and fidelity to, the average employee.

There are 7 more...

Really. If RiKON or Xerox has anything close, I would like to see it. I bet IBM has. Maybe even FoMoCo.  HP was made of the stuff that got Man on the Moon, The Right Stuff.

And contrast the above with Google's Core Values. Oh, how the World has turned.

One mans view of HP Way,

" egalitarian, decentralized system that came to be known as 'the HP Way.' The essence of the idea, radical at the time, was that employees' brainpower was the company's most important of the first all-company profit-sharing plans... gave shares to all employees... among the first to offer tuition assistance, flex time, and job sharing... Today, the behavior of the two founders remains a benchmark for business..."

- Peter Burrows, Business Week, 2004

I found the following, The HP Way -

"We have trust and respect for individuals.

We approach each situation with the belief that people want to do a good job and will do so, given the proper tools and support. We attract highly capable, diverse, innovative people and recognize their efforts and contributions to the company. HP people contribute enthusiastically and share in the success that they make possible.

We focus on a high level of achievement and contribution.

Our customers expect HP products and services to be of the highest quality and to provide lasting value. To achieve this, all HP people, especially managers, must be leaders who generate enthusiasm and respond with extra effort to meet customer needs. Techniques and management practices which are effective today may be outdated in the future. For us to remain at the forefront in all our activities, people should always be looking for new and better ways to do their work.

We conduct our business with uncompromising integrity.

We expect HP people to be open and honest in their dealings to earn the trust and loyalty of others. People at every level are expected to adhere to the highest standards of business ethics and must understand that anything less is unacceptable. As a practical matter, ethical conduct cannot be assured by written HP policies and codes; it must be an integral part of the organization, a deeply ingrained tradition that is passed from one generation of employees to another.

We achieve our common objectives through teamwork.

We recognize that it is only through effective cooperation within and among organizations that we can achieve our goals. Our commitment is to work as a worldwide team to fulfill the expectations of our customers, shareholders and others who depend upon us. The benefits and obligations of doing business are shared among all HP people.

We encourage flexibility and innovation.

We create an inclusive work environment which supports the diversity of our people and stimulates innovation. We strive for overall objectives which are clearly stated and agreed upon, and allow people flexibility in working toward goals in ways that they help determine are best for the organization. HP people should personally accept responsibility and be encouraged to upgrade their skills and capabilities through ongoing training and development. This is especially important in a technical business where the rate of progress is rapid and where people are expected to adapt to change."

I swear, I should take the spirit of the above words, and build similar tenants for  The Way of the Leopard.

Go ahead, read those again.

The HP story of late is great opera, soap opera.  Intriguing to watch unfold, like a slow motion car-crash. I see how entertaining this melodrama can appear from the balcony seats.

But here's the real tragedy - HP's current struggles are simply reflecting our's, as individuals.  In the end, this isn't some far off meteor crashing to Earth.

Ultimately, HP's story, as tragic as it is, is our Story.  In all ways, We Are HP, HP is US. Always.

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1 comment:

  1. Greg,

    I worked for Kyocera Mita America and they had some similar ideologies. They had a corporate philosophy for the company as well as for each group company. They even had handbooks published for each employee which we had to read from.

    I wouldn't be surprised if more companies have these types of philosophies.

    The better question is how many companies follow their own philosophy?

    Henry Gertcher