By Jamie Beckett, April 2006
If you're among those who picture research labs as places
where wild-eyed scientists pursue distant dreams, you might
be disappointed by HP Labs.
Although science is plenty important, it's only part of the
Some people think that you have to make a choice between
doing great science and creating real impact. We don't believe
that," says Dick Lampman, director of HP Labs and senior
vice president for research at HP.
Lampman described this model – what he calls "the
new research" – in a recent talk with some 100
executives from MIT's Sloan Fellows Program in Innovation and Global Leadership.
"We're trying to create a new type of research and a new type
of research person – somebody who is an expert in their
field, but who also understands what matters, what technologies
are likely to have important impact," he says. Rather
than a purely "science-led" model, he says, "our
belief is that it has to be an intersection of science and
In the past, researchers worked primarily with HP business
units, but increasingly they're collaborating with key customers
to gain early insight into future industry needs. For customers,
the payoff is access to cutting-edge technologies and sometimes
a ‘first-of-its-kind’ solution, delivered with
help from HP Services. Successful solutions may eventually
become standard HP products.
"We believe that in fast-moving areas, this is a better way
to develop technology," Lampman says.
However they're developing technologies, HP Labs researchers
have a strong record of technology transfer. HP's first computer
architecture came from HP Labs. All three of HP's printing
technologies – inkjet, laser and digital commercial
printing – were led by Labs or jointly developed with HP
businesses. (For more on HP Labs contributions, see Innovations
" The thing that is not written about the innovation
process is the importance of the human fabric," Lampman
about how you create a risk-taking culture – not foolish
risk, but measured risks so that you pursue new opportunities
as they emerge and not be late."
full text of the talk or download in PDF fomat.
Jamie Beckett is managing editor of this Web site and a former reporter and editor at The San Francisco Chronicle.