Insights into Innovation

By Wilson Farrar
ASK Silicon Valley

This is the second installment in a collection of Insights into Innovation featuring interviews with some of HP’s top creative thinkers. Among them are Senior Vice President of Research, and Director of HP Labs Prith Banerjee, HP Senior Fellow Chandrakant Patel, Director of the Social Computing labs Bernardo Huberman, Director of New Business Initiatives at Hewlett-Packard Andrew Bolwell, Vice President and CTO for Hewlett-Packard’s Personal Systems Group Phil McKinney and CTO of HP’s EDS Division Russ Daniels.

This conversation is with Phil McKinney, Vice President and CTO for Hewlett-Packard’s Personal Systems Group. The previous installment was with Senior Vice President of Research, and Director of HP Labs Prith Banerjee.

Getting from ideas to products

Phil McKinney, Vice President and CTO for Hewlett-Packard’s Personal Systems Group

Phil McKinney, Vice
President and CTO for
HP's Personal Systems

As Phil McKinney likes to say, “Innovation at HP is about translating ideas into meaningful impact for customers.” His focus is on, “delivering innovations that matter, that translate into improving (customer’s) lives.”

As Vice President and CTO for Hewlett-Packard’s Personal Systems Group, Phil is responsible for driving innovation and “going from ideas to products”. Phil is passionate about innovation.

If you haven’t read his blog or followed him on Twitter, you might want to consider doing so (see related links). In addition to pursuing Innovation as a passion, and giving back through speaking and mentoring on the topic, Phil runs HP’s Idea Central and the Innovation Program Office.

In order to go from ideas to products, HP is much more structured and Venture Capital-like in their approach than you might think.

Much like a Venture Capital firm, HP uses a gated funding model. Phil describes it as people self-building their own teams. “They get some money, prove their concept, and then they get more money. It begins with a pitch before a review board.”

The review board has specific criteria:

  1. How does the idea change the customer’s experience or expectations?
  2. How does it change HP’s competitive position in the market place?
  3. How does it disrupt the economics of the industry?

Finally, if it passes the test, they ask one final question: “What is HP’s contribution to make in that space?” As Phil explains, “HP has billions of dollars, tens of thousands of engineers, hundreds of researchers. They have a great ability to build stuff. But, for example, they are not going to go into oil exploration.” Then, of course, there is still the question of making enough profit on the product or service.

Ideas for this process can come from anywhere – both inside and outside of HP. In fact, they like to have a certain percentage of ideas come from outside of the company. In order to facilitate this process, HP created the software system Idea Central that acts as a feeder system to all of the divisions. Idea Central captures ideas from employees, external entrepreneurs, and even their own customers.

When their ideas are selected, the people that bore them become part of the initial Innovation Team that pursues taking the idea to market. Phil emphasizes how important that is. “The teams that are the most successful have a true champion on board, with hair-on-fire, obnoxious, management might brush them off because they can’t even describe their (own) idea type.” They will be the idea people and then you build the team around them so that you can bring it to market.

Bringing the idea to market has its own process based upon a set of gates.

The First Gate is Market Validation. Does the problem really exist? “If it is widely written about already, it’s too late”, Phil explains.

The Second Gate is Customer Validation. Go build a demo for the customer and get some feedback.

The Third Gate is a Limited Launch. One country, one place or region.

The Fourth Gate, Phil describes, “is where you stomp on the gas pedal, fire up the factories, 180 countries here we come, we’re rolling this puppy out.”

In order to facilitate the process of working externally with entrepreneurs and innovators, HP created TEP: Technology Evaluation Process. This software platform acts as an interface into HP (see link below) where ideas are evaluated for a fit within different business units. HP actively seeks external participation recognizing the value that can be brought into the company. It’s a great way to broaden their Idea base in getting to relevant, meaningful products.

For more innovation insights from Phil McKinney watch the following video clip,non-hp site and check out his blog.non-hp site