18 years in HP – and it was an amazing adventure every day. As an old-timer at HP, I guess I tasted the original HP culture in its most refined form. We were extensively encouraged to go for continuous learning and skill upgradation. Tom Peters talked about the culture of innovation at HP – and one had to be a part of it to understand how they built an innovating organization.
To start with, all of us went thru a Process Improvement training program where we collated actual data on live organization problem (like responsiveness to queries from customers) and went thru a process of slashing the turnaround time to deliver the best customer experience.
The corporation placed innovation as one of the business fundamentals for all its people – managers included. We would meet periodically to review if we had ‘innovated’. Innovation was defined an idea put into implementation – and everyone was briefed to get an innovation every quarter.
Perhaps, we missed that one innovation a quarter target…but that changed over a period of time. It was exciting and as each of us shared how we did something differently to get an improved result or enhanced customer experience the excitement built up. I remember the delight at one of my first suggestions – to replace the imported laser printer fusion roller with a recoated Teflon fusion roller – bringing costs per replacement down from 4000/- to 400/-! Or the pride with which the advertising executive shared how she had got an advertising innovation that doubled the ROI on the marketing dollars…
Therefore, the innovations were not restricted to technical or product innovations. They were ideas in action – to improve our execution and our efficiencies for our customers – both internal or external customers. And they were not innovations by individuals – or by managers but cross-functional teams without hierarchy , getting created by the project needs – and evolving with time. The original customer enquiry tat was measured at each stage by the receipt of the enquiry by stamping it at the dispatch to the sales management to the channel partner. Later on, as we evolved the program we had the IT department, the vendor technical experts chipping in to improve the TAT to a razor-sharp, industry leading customer response.
Imagine the power of a few thousand employees bringing an improvement to the real world, every quarter – quarter on quarter!
Innovation in HP was not a strategy – it was a culture, powered by people passion and leaders’ vision….
( Sharing in the downloads : Kickstarting non-innovation.pdf – a presentation I made to emphasize the significance of preserving and focusing on organization culture).