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world's best industrial research lab (wbirl) program

HP Labs Celebration of Creativity
Reader's Theater Script
(Presented 10/25/95)

 

Setting: EMPLOYEE DAY COMMITTEE MEETING

Steve: (Frustrated) This thing isn't even happening for 8 months. Do you really think we need to meet every 2 weeks?

Laurie: (Emphatically) Definitely!! For the Technical Women's Conference, we start planning 2 years ahead of time, and its just about enough.

Marv: Yeah, it's my experience too, we'll need all the time. We'll need to form subcommittees, and for the last 2 months, meet every week.

Steve: Subcommittees? Weekly meetings? Whoa! Slow down, slow down. I did not sign up for all this. I already have a full time job. Let's start at the beginning. So, like, what is an employee day, anyway?

Sid: What is an "employee?"

Darlene: (Sarcastically) Sid, that's good.

Sid: (Indignant) No, I mean it. The term's ambiguous. Sometimes it includes managers, and sometimes it doesn't.

Laurie:I can buy that.

Sid: I think we need a new word. One that covers managers and non-managers.

Laurie: How about "person"

Sid: How about "HPLoyee." Spelled: HPLO-Y-E-E?

Darlene:I like it! I like it a lot!!

Dave: I'm very sorry. But that just won't fly with us here in Bristol. It's not the sort of thing we do.

Steve: I agree with Dave. We shouldn't do it here, either. It's too hard to say, or remember. Besides, can you imagine trying to explain this to some of the people you work with? Not me! I bet it wouldn't fly in Japan either. And where is HPL-J by the way? Why aren't they here?

Laurie: We talked to Tak Kamae, and decided that the live link with Bristol would be about as much as we could do this year. So representatives of HPL-J will be attending, and if we do this again, HPL-J will join next time.

Darlene: Well, what about getting back to the objective of the day. According to Joel, the whole point is celebration. Of our accomplishments.

Laurie: And the Creativity that gives rise to it! Call it Celebration of Creativity!

Dave: That's along the lines we've been thinking in Bristol. Only we've got a very specific image for it: Bill and Dave standing at the garage.

Darlene: So what are you going to do with this image of the garage?

Dave: Well, we're thinking of calling our day "Garage Day." The idea is that each cube is a garage, and we'll have an open day where every body drops in on each other and shares what they're up to.

Marv: I like that idea. I wish we could do that here, but we're too big. But what if we emptied the contents of our garages into a new space and made a big Creativity Faire?

Steve: A new space. Like what? You mean out of doors? Where we could actually breathe, and move around? A radical new tech faire. Awesome, dude. Go for it.

Darlene: What about WBIRL in all this... how do we create this day that it moves HPL further along toward becoming the World's Best Industrial Research Lab?

Laurie: What if we put the W at the end?

Steve: What are you talking about?

Laurie: Instead of "World's Best Industrial Research Lab" , or in addition, let's go for the "Best Industrial Research Lab for the World." I think we've done some good things working on the World's Best Industrial Research Lab. You know, we've looked at ourselves and fixed some things, and found a bunch more things we've gotta fix. But what I'd get up for in the morning is Best Industrial Research Lab for the World. You know. In the world's best interest.

Darlene: BIRL (pronounced BURL) for the World. Oh, Gary Baldwin will like that. He's never said Wibble. He's always said BIRL. But what do you mean?

Steve: Oh, hey, I can see lots of things... instead of looking inwards, at ourselves all the time, let's do a 180 and look outside. Look out!

Sid: Hey, I've got this image

Dave: of the garage

Sid: yes, of the garage

Laurie: and inside it...

Darlene:the world?

All: Yes!!! HP FOR THE WORLD!!!!

(Long Pause....)

Marv: (Quiet little drawn-out voice...) But what does it mean?

(Pause...)

Sid: I think of the Warning to Humanity - the one signed by 1600 world scientists in 1992.

Darlene: Right, including Walter Alvarez who spoke here 2 days ago...

Sid: and the majority of the Nobel Laureates in science.

Steve: 1600 scientists agreed on something???? What????

Sid: The state of the World. They said that "human beings and the [rest of the] World are on a collision course" .. that humans are precipitating the "irreversible loss of species, whichby 2100 may reach 1/3 of all species now living" ... there could ensue an extinction as huge as the one that occurred 65 million years ago, when the 5-mile diameter asteroid, described to us Tuesday by Walter Alvarez, crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula . They cite loss of global "soil productivity," "destructive pressure on the oceans," "lethal" radiation from ozone depletion, "unrestrained population growth," the "absolute poverty" that 1 person out of 5 lives in. They described what's happening as "massive tampering with the World's interdependent web of life." They...

Steve: (Steve, interrupting Sid, impatiently) OK OK, I get it. Any ideas what to do about it?

Darlene: Oh yes, the world scientists are calling for a new stewardship of the earth, and

Sid: they're calling on all quarters to help, including "the world's business and industrial leaders."

Steve: So you're thinking maybe HP could lead the business community in stewardship?

Sid: Yes. Our corporate objectives have evolved from care for the communities in which we operate, to care for the nations in which we operate. Why not ratchet up to the planet level? The natural evolution of the sprit of Bill and Dave, of our core values, of the HP WAY is to a vision of "HP for the World." We've already got a start. Check out Cliff Bast's workshop on HP's product and process stewardship program...

Laurie: I LOVE IT! HP for the World. Stewardship of the planet. As the next incarnation of our citizenship objective.

Darlene:The Warning to Humanity lists 5 things we're supposed to do as stewards, including ending poverty and establishing gender equality.

Steve: 1600 scientists agreed to that?

Darlene: Yeah, and believe it's required to save the planet. And HP's stepping out there, too. Go to the Beijing workshop and hear about how we helped the women's conference.

Sid: For the record, I'd just like to point out that workshop grew out of the suggestions of two MALE engineers at HPL.

Laurie: Glory Be! We're moving when its not always women bringing up the gender issues, or people of color bringing up the diversity issues...

Darlene:"HP for the World..." But you know, it's not just the citizenship objective. The profit objective, too. I was reading Built to Last and there's all this great stuff from Bill and Dave. In 1958, Dave said, "The HP Company should be managed first and foremost to make a contribution to society." In 1961, he said, "our main task is to design, develop, and manufacture the finest electronic equipment for the advancement of science and the welfare of humanity."

Steve:Wow, contribution to society, the welfare of humanity "HP for the World" has been there from the beginning.

Darlene: Yes, from the very beginning. And Bill and Dave were clear it would make money, too.

Sid: I just heard the CEO of Monsanto say, "the world will reward companies that help solve the world's problems. " He's appointed an environmentalist to head public policy, and he's committed the company to helping solve the environmental problems which they've helped cause.

Steve: Well, it seems like we have to keep reestablishing the company in that original vision if we're going to keep the vision alive, be contributing to the welfare of humanity, and making profits for the right reasons and purposes.

Darlene:Good, Steve. Reestablishing the vision. I think that's the whole point of our celebration.

Dave: You know, I also read Built to Last. I remember the part when Dave went to the meeting of other company executives. He talked about his vision of profit sharing, respecting the dignity of all employees, the open door, and the citizenship objective. Not one person in the room agreed with him. They were polite, but they pretty much shunned him for the rest of the meeting.

Steve: Sounds like HP was totally radical in those years?

Laurie: You got it, Steve.

Marv: Well, HP for the World raises the bar on our citizenship objective, and profit objective, but what about the people objective? I mean, did you catch that recent newsgram about diversity? Where the company just came out and said, "we're not backing off, even if other companies do?"

Darlene: Yes. I was really glad to see that. We took the lead on that one, like Bill and Dave, instead of waiting to see what the leaders were going to do and then positioning ourselves to be among them.

Laurie: I agree, Darlene. How can HP ever be the "employer of choice," "the best place to work," if we keep positioning ourselves among the leaders. It's just a total contradiction. To be the "employer of choice," we've got to be the "leader of leaders" when it comes to ending racism, sexism and homophobia in our own company. We can't be HP for the World, unless we also get it right at home.

Dave: Yes, the company has got to be the role model for the world as we would like it to be.

Steve: So where does HP Labs fit in?

Sid: Right at the cutting edge. The best place to be! We're chartered to look into the future...to identify and invent new technologies, systems and solutions leading HP into profitable new businesses that in the largest sense.. serve the needs of the world. By the way, getting back to what Darlene said, several of our top employees have told me that they chose HP over other companies because of our citizenship objective. Think what "HP for the World" would do for recruiting, and for the spirit and image of the company!

Marv: Did you ever think about this? We're the only entity in the company that's a hologram of the whole company. We hold keys to the future of every division. We're connected to them all. We're in the best spot not just to change the direction of the company, but even to change how we decide direction.

Laurie: So we at HP Labs need to do 3 things. First, we've got to own the vision of " HP for the World." Second, we've got to choose the technologies to enable the vision, and third, we've got to choose ways of working with divisions that help them work together on the right technologies and markets....(pause, thinking...) If we do these 3 things, we can make "HP for the World" happen.

Steve: Excellent!

Dave: Let's get back to HP for the World, and this image of the world in the garage. What does it mean to you?

Laurie: It means HPL and HP figuring out the how to grab hold of education and help parent, kids and teachers, and make a lot of money on it. I mean, I volunteer in my kids' classrooms, and hey, all those Apple computers have done is automate the old, dysfunctional classroom. Technology is creating a whole new paradigm for education, and nobody's exploiting it for kids. Why don't we?

Dave: Yes, the key to learning is instant, personal feedback just what an educational appliance for kids could do. Think of what we could do with our laptops, or Paperclip for kids! Build in science and maths. Automatically grade homework, real time. Link them for group homework sessions - with a parent or teacher in the loop.

Steve: You know we're already working on the shift from sick-care to well-care. Instead of calling the doctor when you think something's wrong, she'll call you because she's constantly monitoring your functions. You know, a kind of home health center.

Marv: Sure! And did you know we may be pioneering in "precision agriculture?" Helping farmers measure soil conditions so accurately that they fertilize and water only as much as needed to maximize production of food, and minimize damage to the environment.

Darlene: When I think about "HP and HPL for the World" it means a major shift in our customer base. We started with the "next bench engineer," then in this decade, became significant in some consumer markets. But the "world" means much higher volume, mostly lower-cost products that address the real needs and problems of the emerging markets: Southeast Asia, as well as underdeveloped nations that are striving for quality of life, like health, their environments, and food. Face it, when we think of potential new customers we don't think of rural people in Guatemala or Nigeria..

Laurie: Well, listening to all this reminds me of what I see looking at Dave and Bill standing at the garage door and gazing at the planet. I think of the phrase "to see the world in a grain of sand." What we do here in Palo Alto has global impact. I also think about our impact in the Third World and wonder how we might expand our vision of potential customers to include rural women in, say, Guatemala, or Nigeria. And global impact also includes how we respect and value employees and neighbors in the third world countries where we manufacture products.

Sid: I see ...
... in the "World-in-the-Garage"
... a deep, multi-dimensional meta-vision
I see ...
... friendship, teamwork, and decency
... vision, leadership, and contribution
... origins, evolution and creativity,
... past, present and future
... awe and wonder
... the miracle of it all.
I see ... possibilities.

Marv: Hey, listen, this could go on all day.

Steve: (A little sharply) Yes, well, that's the point, isn't it?.

Marv: Yes, but we're not the only ones...

Steve: (Dramatically looks around the tent) Oh! Right!!! So, like, where do we start?

Darlene: Start with celebration of our creativity, and think of all the ways our creativity can enable "HP for the World, " right?

Steve: All right! Go for it!

END OF EMPLOYEE DAY COMMITTEE MEETING
folks file off stage, lights dim

 

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