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2011-08-20

HP lost its way

Quoting Losing the HP Way (Robert X. Cringely).
Hewlett was the good cop and Packard was the bad cop, but both men had figured out through a steady process of evolution over four decades how to build and run a fantastic company. Those days are over. Though confirmed by this week’s HP decisions to change direction and ditch the PC business, let’s understand something: the HP I knew died many years ago.
...
Let me explain. We’ve all heard how great it is that Google allows its employees to spend 10 percent of their time working on their own projects. Google didn’t invent that: HP did. And the way the process was instituted at HP was quite formal in that the 10 percent time was after lunch on Fridays. ... This enabled a flurry of innovation that produced some of HP’s greatest products including those printers.

But the Agilent spinoff unzipped HP, tearing one half of its creative culture from the other. Friday afternoon teams crossed product lines and many of those teams were decimated when the company was split along product lines.

HP was an engineering-driven company and became an MBA-driven company. I’m not saying that you don’t need the latter, but you shouldn’t lose sight of the former.

Related reading:

  1. HP will spin off PC division, stop making webOS hardware

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