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Business Lessons from HP History - 01

HP people talk frankly about what went right – and what went wrong – as this continuous startup grew rapidly for decades. 

(Also see our directory of Books about HP -- many by former employees.)

Culture: Dave Evans:

Doing the right thing for the customer: On a customer visit "It became obvious to me that we had nothing that would solve his problem and RCA did. I gave the customer the RCA part number... I told the Field Sales Engineer that his job was twofold; first to solve customer's problems and second to sell OED's products, in that order... The FSE was so angry with me he didn’t even say goodbye... Two months went by and I received a phone call from the same FSE. He was as happy as a kid with a new bicycle; for the customer had called him to help solve another problem. The customer told the FSE he called back because he knew HP would help solve his problem even though it might not lead to a sale. This time, however, OED did have a product that solved the customer’s problem." (page 17)

"Process Paralysis." With growth in the division came new managers who instituted "a strict product development process to ensure the development of new products in a timely fashion. I thought this was absolute nonsense. I agreed that OED needed processes to operate as an effective business entity. But having to follow a strict product development process did not make any sense to me; because many of OED's most successful products had not been developed using any particular process and some had even been developed clandestinely to keep from being killed by management before they were brought to fruition." (page 49)

Be part of your customers' world.  If your customers have a trade association, convention, or standard-setting body -- become a key participant. That's how Dave helped get LEDs adopted in traffic lights, airplane cockpits, auto tail lights and instrument panels, road signs, highway barricades, "exit" signs, and in-road crosswalk lights.

Developed, edited, and introduced by John Minck.

On the late Marc Mislanghe's personal HP Memory Project site, which is now operated by Ken Kuhn.

If formerly a regular, direct U.S. employee of HP or HPE -- or are in the process of leaving -- join the HP Alumni Association. No charge, thanks to HPAA's Supporting Members.

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