IN RECOGNITION OF HEWLETT-PACKARD WOMEN
HP WOMEN'S INFORMATION NETWORK ----- SEPTEMBER 1997 EDITION
Sponsor: Dick Watts
OVATIONS gives recognition to HP women's achievements in business and life.Their stories are as varied as their businesses. In this issue, we learn from a woman who has achieved success through a very different approach. Her primary emphasis has been on integrating the efforts of others and striving to help them find their unique contribution. Read on, as you learn about the "key" to bringing your ideas to life.
As always, I invite any comments or feedback about this newsletter anytime. Past issues of OVATIONS can be found on the HP WIN Web Page at:
BARBARA WAUGH, Worldwide Personnel Manager
Barbara Waugh is a notable example to all HP employees of how each of us can strive to find the unique contribution inside us. Joel Birnbaum, Senior Vice President, R&D and Director of HP Labs, sums up her unique style and contribution: "Barbara Waugh is a paradox, an unlikely blend of the deeply spiritual with the perceptively rational. Her sensitivity to people's needs and her creative spirit produce unusual levels of trust and commitment from colleagues that often lead to startling results."
I first came across Barbara Waugh when I heard her speak at the Regional Women's Conference speakers series. The talk was given at HP Labs and it was so crowded that I had to stand with many others in the back. What I heard was wonderful and at the same time, hard to describe. Barbara spoke on the difference in her life between the way she had grown up to think people made things happen and the way she has found it happens in reality. Her talk centered on the importance of listening to your ideas and not simply discarding them because they may be hard to implement (especially if you try to implement them by yourself). She emphasized the importance of sharing your ideas with others. This, she explains, is the catalyst that eventually brings your ideas to life. She holds the role of the listener in great esteem, and urges us to truly listen to each other.
COMMISSIONED TO TRANSFORM HP LABS
Barb has been with HP for 14 years and reports directly to Joel Birnbaum as the manager of a project to transform HP Labs to be the best industrial research lab in and for the world. It's an innovative and daunting goal. Barb's approach is to engage the input of a vast number of employees, and to create goal-oriented tasks that are easily measurable. For example, at her suggestion, she took the suggestion of an HPL engineer to created a grants program inside HPL that would enables engineers to initiate their own research if they are selected by a panel of their peers for a grant.
WALK THROUGH TIME
By truly listening to the ideas of her HP Labs colleague, Sid Liebes, a senior scientist, Barb catalyzed his piloting at HP Labs his idea to build a one-mile "Walk Through Time, unfolding a scientific understanding of the evolution of life on Earth. She helped the idea take shape in a context that could make it become a reality in-- and relevant to-- Hewlett-Packard. Sid initially proposed the "Walk Through Time" for the first Earth Day in 1970. His motivation was to contribute to humanity's adoption of a future-oriented world view. The "Walk" didn't materialize at that time.
Barb believed the "Walk" would be a powerful context for identifying and addressing fundamental personal, organizational, and community issues. At HP, the "Walk Through Time" became a reality and involved several thousand participants. The State of the World Forum (a forum for global leaders) has asked to have the "Walk Through Time" be part of their fall summit meeting in San Francisco. Over 800 world leaders will participate and come away with an understanding that cooperation-- not competition-- has carried life forward for the last five billion years. Lew Platt, Barb and Sid will give presentations at that summit.
A RICH PERSPECTIVE
Barb is an avid reader, reading three books each week.. One of her favorite books, "Composing A Life" by Mary Catherine Bateson,is especially relevant to Barb's life and her approach to finding the unique contribution within each of us. It describes how many of us grow up expecting to take a well-planned linear path to our destiny or career. In fact, many of us lead lives that weave through a series of unexpected pieces or detours, like a patchwork quilt. The unexpected in our lives may include having to move, juggling several jobs or careers, taking time out due to illness or family obligations, or changing jobs as a result of downsizing. Those experiences lend depth and creativity to our perspective today. Many of us have funny or surprising stories about how we got to where we are today. Barb certainly does. She has been a machinist, actress, journalist, teacher, therapist, social activist, community organizer, partner, and parent. For seven years, she was the director of the women's center for a consortium of nine theological graduate schools. Barb has a Masters in Theology and Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago and a Doctorate in Psychology and Organizational Behavior from the Wright Institute in Berkeley. She draws on learnings from all of these experiences to craft change in HP Labs.
Barb's experience outside her current line of work has positively impacted her perspective and performance. One example is the link between her previous acting experience and her introduction to HP of a technique called "Reader's Theater". Used to help an audience understand emotion-packed issues, readers' theater has been an effective tool at HP that has resulted in policy changes benefiting thousands of HP employees.
A PHILOSOPHY EMERGES
Barb's emphasis on projects whose success can be clearly measured is deliberate. Years ago, Barb was motivated to get her Ph.D. in order to understand what causes people in organizations to "betray and sabotage each other in ways much worse than whatever enemy we were fighting." She was "horrified and fascinated" with the phenomenon, and wanted to know why it happened in some organizations, more than others. Was it a gender issue? A change-management issue? She waded through a number of theories and concluded, "When you have an organization whose task has been defined in such a way that you can't measure progress on it, then there is no rational basis on which to organize, or on which to make resource allocation decisions. With no way to measure progress, you default to something else to measure. The default in political organizations is political correctness, and often in HP, it is 'style'. People say, 'Well, they're just not a team player' or something else that is very vague and subjective." Barb recalls retired Executive Vice President Dick Hackborn's remarks at a Technical Women's Conference that as our margins shrink and competition gets stiffer, we'll increasingly have hard measures for performance. Hackborn believed hard measures would be great for HP and for women and minorities, in contrast to the subjective measure of style that works against us. If the task is "150% increase in two weeks," and you produce 200%, you're going to get recognized for that."
ALIGNING TASKS AND RESOURCES
Barb stresses the importance of getting tasks and resources in alignment to establish achievable goals. "It may mean letting go of your original charter -- sometimes very lofty and emotionally satisfying -- and redefining it in ways that have clear measures and adequate resources. The dynamics will completely change. First of all, you'll lose some people on it who won't want to take a task focus. I was that way, and if I hadn't been working on my dissertation and seeing the value of this approach, I would have had trouble with it myself. But I learned the simple thing that as human beings, when we're gathered together to do something and we don't know what it is, we don't know how to tell if we're doing it or not, and we are going to go crazy. And we do. So we need to operationalize the charter. You can say 'we don't know what this means, so we're going to define it to mean this.' And then check out whether it's OK to operate on that definition. But operationalize it to something that can actually be accomplished with the people you have. Now this doesn't mean that you have to dream small. You can start with a large commitment to create a great world, and then operationalize it into a set of tasks that are doable with resources at hand. It doesn't mean you can't have big dreams; it just means they aren't the task. They're the context for your tasks."
As Barb continues to apply this powerfully effective philosophy, she shares a couple of current personal challenges. Passionately devoted to her family, yet terribly allergic to both cats and dogs, Barb is searching for a non-allergenic breed of cat to appease her daughter's pleas for a pet. If there's a way to make it work, Barb will find it. On a broader scale, she has also been considering how to engage with an issue that has been of interest to her for years -- world hunger. It's the large issues like the sustainability of the planet and world hunger that she firmly believes global corporations and technology can effect.
FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY
It's ironic that on the surface Barb appears to be fearless, yet she'll be the first to admit her misgivings about the success of a project as it is about to unfold. She is the perfect example of the saying "feel the fear and do it anyway". And her courage has paid off in the success of her career and her richly quilted life.
Diane Bassett is Manager of Communication and Training for the Software Services Division and is on the board of the HP Regional Women's Conference.
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