Suggesting How Hewlett-Packard Could Integrate Some of Doug Hall’s Ideas About Creativity

Write a memo to the head of an organization you know well (please identify the organization! ) suggesting how that organization could integrate some of Doug Hall’s ideas about creativity into his or her organization (assume that this person has read the Inc. article). Of course, you should consider and address the major barriers this person may have with these ideas. As always, but especially now, be creative! Dear Meg Whitman, are you ready to recycle the clunky, outdated HP laptop that awaited you on your first day as HP CEO through e-bay for those seeking a bargain and not cutting edge product?

You took e-bay from a 30-employee, $4M annual revenue business to a not-to-be-ignored 15,000 employee, $8B revenue household name. What can you do with a household name company whose best moments are less than recent history? Things I know about HP’s history, in order of positive impression on me: – Researchers create the technology for the first rewritable DVD system (DVD+RW) compatible with standard DVD players.

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HP introduces its first Digital Data Storage (DDS) drives, based on pioneering technology from Labs for using helical scan tape recording for data storage. Introduced inkjet and laser printers for the desktop in 1984 – Scientists created fundamental color (sRGB), compression and half-toning algorithms for the DeskJet 500C, dramatically reducing the cost of color printing. – The HP-35 was the first pocket calculator with transcendental functions and the first with RPN Hewlett-Packard once defined “Technology”. When has HP last accomplished what its advertising campaign promises — Invent®? It is time for a company reinvention. I see this reinvention in your play book.

Recently, I was struck by the extreme irony of seeing an iPod in the catalog listed as “iPod + HP” with a big “HP Invent” logo adjacent. And so in that sense, the real invention of HP’s “invent” with the Apple iPod is that HP didn’t create their own, but they licensed and repacked the existing market leader to gain a foothold in the exploding market for mp3 and audio players. It’s a dramatic strategic shift and it’s really a winner and a harbinger of good management direction at HP.

One inevitable downside of capitalism is the profligate waste produced by too much competition. It is great to see HP acknowledging that the best way to handle this overflow is to partner with leaders rather than add to the flood. It seems like the best way for HP to keep inventing, is to follow this path to corporate reinvention to service and product collaboration that you are starting on. I assume you read the Inc. Magazine article by John Grossmann (1997) titled “Jump Start your Business”. My favorite takeaways were; 1. One has to break rules in order to get better ideas.

You have to create a climate that is conducive to creative thinking (something like Xerox did with Palo Alto Research Center). Involve people from different parts of the company. 2. Team work in coming with ideas and picking the outrageous ideas and push them even further using smash-association. 3. Invest in R&D. I believe these three concepts have a place in the HP that is yet to come. Perhaps you are less enthused because you are wondering where to get the funding for R&D. Instead of spending money buying companies (such as Autonomy) with huge premium, use the money to invest in R&D.

Sometimes, innovation is just about rethinking what’s already around and sometimes it’s as simple as putting a number of existing technologies together in unique and interesting ways. As HP transitions to a “services” company, it will continue to learn that being aware of its market reputation is vitally important. Companies that don’t feel HP is thinking clearly and strategically about its product line are companies that aren’t likely to hire them as service providers either. I would like to offer to collaborate with you at any time, since you are envisioning an age of HP embracing solid winners.

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