HP Alumni Association logo

HP Menu:    HP Way    HP Breakup    Business Lessons    Stock    Contacts    Site Map

Operated by former HP, HPInc, and HPE employees who volunteer their time. Not officially endorsed or supported. Join us!

Rules of the Garage  (Updated Dec 29, 2017.)

Summary: The "Rules of the Garage" were originated by an ad agency in 1999 and used in a $200 million worldwide advertising campaign. The ads -- which starred new CEO Carly Fiorina, didn't mention any HP products, and must have mystified the vast majority of the audience -- were shown on network TV, including pre-game on the Super Bowl in January, 2000. Travelling Garage  Original Radicals

See also original statements of the HP Way (1980, 1992) and Corporate Objectives (1966) -- and "Don't lock the lab-stock room." 

"...a $200 million global brand initiative... The new image turns on the company's legacy of invention, and the vision of founders David Packard and William Hewlett, who conceived HP in a garage... Ms. Fiorina describes the company's birthplace as a 'one-car garage'... The spots will air heavily in network TV programming... They also will air on the pregame portion of Super Bowl XXXIV in January on ABC"

--Tobi Elkin Advertising Age, November 1999

"Fiorina quickly identified her rallying point: the original Palo Alto garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded the company in 1939. To change HP’s culture, 'we had to go back to the roots of the place,' she later said. She engaged a local ad agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, to reposition HP to the world. Goodby creative manager Steven Simpson sat down with Packard’s autobiography, The HP Way, and, working from the text, produced a manifesto that he called 'Rules of the Garage.' It contained 10 maxims that had guided the men who had built the early oscillators, voltmeters, and atomic clocks of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. 'Perform more than you promised,' Simpson wrote. 'If the person at the next bench sees what you're working on and doesn’t say, ‘Wow!’ start over.' He arranged the rules in front of a photo of the original garage and sent his draft to the company for review.

"Fiorina loved the concept. But she and Susan Bowick, HP’s head of human resources, decided the draft rules didn’t capture the company’s current direction. Soon the allusions to next-bench engineers and topflight performance had disappeared. Newly coined rules had taken their place, notably 'The customer defines a job well done' and 'Invent different ways of working.'

"More rejiggering lay ahead. Goodby and HP executives wanted to showcase the garage in HP’s new television commercials, but Packard’s old house had changed hands multiple times, and the shed in back was being leased for $100 a month by a florist. So the ad team picked out a back corner of HP’s corporate campus and built an ersatz garage. The lawn in front of the building was made to look like a rutted driveway. Sport-utility vehicles rumbled back and forth until they wore down a 100-foot stretch of grass.

"Ad-agency camera crews arrived and ultimately produced a dazzling commercial with Fiorina herself telling people, 'The company of Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard is being reinvented. The original startup will act like one again. Watch!' "

--George Anders "The Carly Chronicles. An Inside Look at Her Campaign to Reinvent HP." Fast Company, January 2003 

1. Believe you can change the world.
2. Work quickly, keep the tools unlocked, work whenever.
3. Know when to work alone and when to work together.
4. Share -- tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.
5. No Politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage.)
6. The customer defines a job well done.
7. Radical ideas are not bad ideas.
8. Invent different ways of working.
9. Make a contribution every day. If it doesn’t contribute, it doesn’t leave the garage.
10. Believe that together we can do anything.
11. Invent.

--1999 HP ad displayed in Wired

Travelling Garage TV ad with creative and production credits.

Original Radicals TV ad with creative and production credits.

Fiorina ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

HPAlumni. Operated by volunteers. Not officially endorsed or supported by any company. Questions or comments to: info@hpalumni.org  (Updated Sept 11, 2017.)

For more mutual help on this topic and many others, join the independent HP Alumni Association. If you were formerly a regular, direct employee of HP, HPInc, or HPE -- or are in the process of leaving -- join the HP Alumni Association. Helping each other with life after HP. No charge, thanks to HPAA members.

© 2021 Hewlett-Packard Alumni Association, Inc. • By using this site you accept these terms • Operated by former employees who volunteer their time. Not officially endorsed or supported by any company.