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1999: Getting back to the HP Way.  (Updated Feb 25, 2023)

"In my personal experiences with Dave and Bill, you certainly had opportunities to give your inputs. But once that was done, a decision was made -- everybody accepted it and everybody acted on it. That isn't exactly consensus... Another thing that Dave and Bill always demanded was very strong accountability."
--HP board member and retired executive Dick Hackborn in May 1999.

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"Getting back to the HP Way"

"Dick Hackborn is destined to be a first-ballot member of the Hewlett-Packard Hall of Fame. He joined the company in 1960 as a design engineer and held several management positions before being named G.M. of the former Computer Peripherals Group in 1979. In this role, he established HP's legendary printer business -- contributing to his HP legacy and dramatically changing the company's focus. In 1992, he was named to the HP board of directors. Dick retired from HP a year later, remaining on the board as an influential member. Following are some of his thoughts on the realignment.

[Discussion of the Agilent spinoff and Lew Platt's coming retirement.]

Question: One of the concerns among employees is that there has been some erosion in the HP Way over the past few years and that the realignment will cause it to erode even further. How would you respond?

Dick: That's a very important concern, When we were looking at restructuring the company, we purposefully went out and gathered a lot of inputs about the state of the HP Way today and what it means to people. Most of the inputs we received sounded very familiar to the HP Way that I remember -- back almost 40 years now.

However, there were other aspects of it that were not at all the way I remember Dave and Bill operating the company. An example is consensus building. In my personal experiences with Dave and Bill, you certainly had opportunities to give your inputs. But once that was done, a decision was made -- everybody accepted it and everybody acted on it. That isn't exactly consensus.

Another thing that Dave and Bill always demanded was very strong accountability. I mean, you felt it every day, You were there to make a contribution, a contribution that resulted in tangible market performance -- actual end results in terms of market success and financial performance. That was how your contribution was determined. We seem to have gotten away from that.

HP has gotten so much larger, complex and bureaucratic -- despite the best intentions of everybody. And that's not the HP Way either,

So if people are thinking that we've been losing some key parts of the HP Way in recent years -- some of the important ones -- they might be right. I really believe that these two, more focused companies will give us a chance to get back to the real HP Way.

Question: We've also heard comments from employees who say that there is such pressure to perform in today's fast-moving markets that their managers don't seem to pay as much attention to HP's core values as they should. Do you think there might be something to this concern?

Dick: That's a tough question because you have to ask the person who's saying that what the core values are. If somebody thinks the core values are studying and analyzing without implementation, procrastination caused by trying to achieve consensus and allowing everybody involved in a decision to have veto power on every other person's business, then those are the kind of values that I'd like to see go away.

But if they think the core values are objectives like making a contribution to customers, expecting a reasonable return on your investments, trusting people and giving them maximum freedom to implement -- but also holding them accountable -- then those arc the kinds of values that continue to be important and should be emphasized. I don't see anything in today's world that changes that."

Measure Magazine 1999-05 (pages 28-29)

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