Pretexting and Pretense at HP

6 September 2006

My admiration of and disappointment with Hewlett-Packard has been no secret here. While in engineering school, I calibrated HP oscilloscopes. My first scientific calculator was an HP, and I later taught the RPN notation that made HP’s calculators unique. One of the first HP-150 touchscreen PC’s was shipped to a company I co-owned during the 1980’s. I loved HP products.

The story of HP’s founding, the garage and a long list of amazing products stands as one of the great business stories of all time.

Now HP seems to make headlines for its stories of corporate intrigue. From high profile ousters to boardroom spying, the company is improving operationally under an outstanding leader. Yet, the board seems to thrive on taking its own debates public.

There was a time when the worst thing that could be said about HP was, “oh, that’s just a bunch of engineers over there who don’t know anything about marketing.” Great products and amazing innovations have given way to all the trappings of the rat race. Why can’t sensational engineering be the goal? Why must politics undermine each and every professional effort in the world today?

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