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The Inside Story of the HP 1300A X-Y Display

Charles H. House, 2011


Table of Contents:


Me vs. Corporate PR

It was Monday November 12, 1984, raining heavily outside my office window when the angry caller from Hewlett-Packard Corporate public relations arrived. Red-faced, this agitated visitor shook a set of papers in my face, shouting: "You can't be saying these things." Somehow, every encounter with HP's PR department had always seemed to be about what I'd just done or said wrongly. Newspaper and magazine journalists were perennially misquoting me, and I'd learned to apologize long since. I took the sheaf, and quickly scanned the pages.


This seemed worse than usual. It was the first chapter of a forthcoming book - a ten page chapter about me. I was quoted - frequently, indelibly - about how David Packard, the Hewlett-Packard founder, was both belligerent and wrong with respect to one of my projects seventeen years earlier. It highlighted an award - a Medal of Defiance - given by Packard to honor an insubordination "when the guy is right" as he later described it in his autobiography.

Rifling through the pages, I recalled the interview two years ago, weeks after starting this new job in Palo Alto. I should have known better, but it had seemed innocent at the time. I'd come from a remote division to headquarters, enthused about a job with enormous leverage over HP's far-flung research and development (R&D) programs. The job: Corporate Engineering Director. Defined narrowly, it was Director of a few Corporate Engineering functions; defined more expansively, it was the Director of Engineering for a company with the fourth largest R&D investment rate in America. I chose to define it expansively. But now - was my job in jeopardy? Packard sat thirty feet away. Though retired, he was in his office when I knocked.

With the manuscript in hand, I stammered that he probably wouldn't remember the long-ago situation. He grabbed the stack of paper, scanned the opening paragraph, then threw his head back and started to laugh. He stopped laughing long enough to say, "Young man, I most certainly do remember this." Uh-oh; I had one of those moments where your life seems to pass before your eyes, just as you fall into the abyss.

Packard, physically an imposing man, often tried to minimize the impact by softly saying he was just five-foot seventeen inches tall. But as he straightened up, wagging his index finger, the part about 'minimizing' eluded me. In a fog, I heard Packard say, "You're in a job now that you can stop lots of good things from happening. I want you to remember that." He turned to the PR guy, handed back the manuscript, and said, "Print it."

My Fingerprints in Published Articles

The manuscript would result in a 1985 book, Intrapreneuring: Why you don't have to leave the corporation to become an entrepreneur, which defined an intrapreneur. In 1985, even the term entrepreneur was strange to most folk. Neither term was taught in any university at the time - Gifford Pinchot had to define the terms in his book, where he made a case for innovation at the bottom rather than the top - let the kids with passion, drive and energy define the next set of products rather than some strategists or top managers.

The first chapter was devoted to 'my story' - the gist was that I ignored a 'direct order' from Packard to cancel a project that seemed to have no significant market opportunity. Ultimately, the completed project became successful, and my career eventually did as well. The book did not report that the project aftermath set my career back five years; mythology works better sometimes if the details are glossed or omitted. Nor did it tackle the more important story - how can a corporation capture this unbridled enthusiasm, and scale it? Unwittingly, that was the thrust of my new job - I just didn't connect the two dots at the time.

That rainy afternoon in Palo Alto, the thought that HP would become the world leader in computing equipments for science, the office, and even the home within twenty years was unimaginable - although David Packard in 1980 had proclaimed that goal to his company, gratuitously giving us a twenty-five year horizon.

HP, only one-twelfth the size of IBM, was already witness to Japanese companies destroying semiconductor memory companies in the once aptly named Silicon Valley - could the locus of computing leadership move west, destroying the world hegemony of IBM and DEC? And would my job role help bring HP to the forefront?

Stepping back almost three years - to January 1982, I was still heading the Logic Division at HP Colorado Springs when HP headquarters put out a plea for help with 'systems engineering' - a little-known topic at the time. It resonated for me, and I penned a 'white paper' for Palo Alto executives. Next thing I knew, they gave me a new job - Corporate Engineering Director - in charge of co-ordinating strategies, processes, tools, and standards for HP's ninety-one R&D labs.

The send-off, on April Fool's Day 1982, featured a set of gag gifts - among them, a certificate titled "Medal of Defiance" with a medal on a ribbon pinned to it. When I set up my office next door to Dave Packard's office in the old headquarters on Page Mill Road in Palo Alto days later, the certificate was laying atop a book case - not inconspicuous, but not really on display either.

Days later, my secretary got a telephone call, from a fellow named Gifford Pinchot. She asked me if I wanted to take the call - and since I'd once worked in the U.S. Forest Service, I knew the Pinchot name. I facetiously said, "If he set up the U.S. Forest Service, sure." She repeated my words to the caller, and he said, "Well, I'm his grandson." I accepted his request.

Gifford Pinchot III was seeking entrepreneurs within corporations. When Pinchot met with Tektronix R&D Vice President Bill Walker in Beaverton, Oregon, Walker pointed to a magazine article that mentioned my new job. He told Pinchot: "Go see that guy. He's your perfect example. He's whipped us three times now."

Lanky and raw-boned, red-headed and Yale educated, Pinchot epitomized the Atlantic seaboard propriety in style and manner. Despite this, we hit it off, sharing stories about friend and foe alike. We were on the same wavelength with respect to how corporations suck innovative juices dry, and just what could be done to ameliorate that. Enthusiastically, I explained that my job was expressly created to help re-stimulate innovation at Hewlett-Packard - oh, yes, and also to enhance productivity, efficiency, and especially effectiveness.

We walked back to my office after lunch in the HP cafeteria; Pinchot had left his attaché case by the bookcase. As he bent down to retrieve it, he espied the certificate. He quickly read it, and asked, "What is this about?" I told him the circumstance, and he pulled out a Polaroid camera, and asked permission to take a picture. I said, "Sure." His photograph is the only reason that there is a record of it today. I disposed of the certificate months later, believing it only a gag gift. Twenty years passed before I learned that Packard had really okay'd it.

My Move to Corporate Engineering, Palo Alto

The Corporate Engineering role evolved during a tough time for American companies. 1983 was the trough of the Reagan recession. Japan Inc. was everywhere, seriously wounding such premier American companies as RCA, U.S. Steel and General Motors. America's manufacturing heartland took the brunt of the Japanese onslaught. Half of the country's steel workers lost their jobs in twenty-four months; as did forty percent of auto workers. Worse, proud Silicon Valley, leader of semiconductor chips for a decade, was being decimated by Japan, amid charges of piracy and 'dumping,' Nothing seemed safe, especially when Japan's MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry) announced the Fifth Generation computing program, aimed at overtaking American computing hegemony.

Pinchot's book, appearing in February 1985, was timely for America's innovation problems - by then, the common perception was that Japan Inc. was whipping America in automobiles, steel, semiconductors, entertainment electronics, and computers - this book offered hope. Moreover, Gifford Pinchot's name had cachet - his grandfather started the U.S. Forest Service, then wrote the 1912 Progressive platform for the Bull Moose candidate, Teddy Roosevelt; and later was a two-term Pennsylvania governor.

Such legacy put Gifford Pinchot III easily into the national spotlight - his book would garner a New York Times feature article, a Time magazine story, and a spot on Jane Pauley's The Today Show which heralded the young author's insights. Pinchot III needed a compelling example. Hewlett-Packard at the time, with my project as frontispiece, fit the bill so Pinchot called HP again - he wanted to have the New York Times and other publications arrange stories with me, featuring HP's innovative approach as the best way for America to win in this international battle. HP, already profiled by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman via In Search of Excellence (1982), could only benefit further from this story describing how they innovate. With these stars aligning. . . of a sudden, I had a chance to be thrust into a little bit of prominence. It augured to be my Andy Warhol fifteen minutes of fame.

But HP had a long history of ducking the limelight. Both founders eschewed press coverage; their approach was decidedly stealth mode. If they were ever 'found out,' they'd adopt an "aw, shucks" attitude and try to deflect any notoriety. We all knew the drill - no surprise here. HP public relations did call me, to tell me that they had turned this request down - and to alert me that I was to do the same in the event that Pinchot went around them. I understood, perfectly.

Confusion on Computer Strategy

The HP General Manager's meeting assembled at the tony Silverado Lodge in Napa on Sunday January 22, 1984 just as the Super Bowl featured the memorable Apple MacIntosh ad, which showed a hammer-swinging Olympian tossing it into a screen of automatons held captive by a thinly veiled big brother IBM. HP VPs were incensed by the ad, and Ed McCracken tried to deflect the angst for the group the next day by showing HP's first planned public television ad, a 'butterfly ad' for the touch-screen HP 150 personal computer. Although Time Magaz ine had named the IBM PC "Man of the year" the previous January, and IBM had a two-year headstart, HP Vice President Cyril Yansouni announced that HP's new McKinsey partner for the HP 150 confidently predicted that HP would have twenty-one percent market share within a year; Apple share would shrink from the Apple II twenty-five percent to a mere eight percent, they averred.

I was the only person in the room who had already seen and operated the new MacIntosh. I was dazzled, but I found no one at HP who shared my enthusiasm for months thereafter.

Nearly a year after Apple's bold TV ad, on Sunday January 13, 1985, HP's twenty-four person management council gathered at the exclusive Meadowwood resort in St. Helena, California. The group had never before studied any competitor, but a facilitator launched a two-day meeting by handing out Digital Equipment's annual report - I thought, "Whoa, this is new." The facilitator asked us to skim the report, and then he said, "Turn to the back page, and read the list of board members and officers. I will go around the room, and I want each of you to describe who on that list you have met and had a conversation with, and give us the context."

Twenty-first to answer, I was the first who had met any. I knew two, both engineering vice-presidents. Asked to describe how well I knew them, I answered, "Well, one of them slept in my master bedroom last Saturday night." Boy, did that bring down the place! Fortunately, the next speaker, HP's Research Vice President, Joel Birnbaum, also knew two.

The issue was that Digital (known as DEC) was growing faster than HP; they were poised to pass us in total revenue momentarily, and our 32-bit computer program was in disarray. HP's computer business architect, Paul Ely, had resigned in disgust two weeks earlier after twenty-one years at HP. Joel had been hired to help us catch IBM - which seemed illusory at this point.

The discussions with the facilitator were desultory - the group as a whole did not think of DEC as a worthy foe. By mid-afternoon, we'd moved to other topics - what to do with the medical business, and where was our semiconductor program headed? While this leadership group held annual 'strategic meetings,' it always seemed that we preferred tactics to strategy.

The next morning about 9:15 am, John Young's right hand man, COO Dean Morton, was given a phone message. Do you remember those pink message slips that receptionists scribbled before cell phones? He read it, blinked and then gulped. He interrupted the speaker, demanding, "What the hell is going on? Forbes, Fortune , and the Wall Street Journal have canceled attendance at our annual press conference on Wednesday; they're each going to Apple instead."

HP had just posted a best year ever, with its CEO chairing a new Council on Competitiveness for President Ronald Reagan. With $6 billion revenue, four times that of Apple or Intel, HP was far and away the biggest high-tech company in Silicon Valley. Sun Microsystems was a puny $38 Million; Cisco and Oracle didn't exist. These analysts were going to skip our annual press conference, to hear something put together at Apple in three days? Totally exasperated, Dean said: "What is this crap with Apple? Don't we have anyone exciting like that noisy guy?"

I don't know what compelled me, but I heard myself exclaim: "I just got called by Time , the New York Times , and The Today Show . Corporate public relations turned them all down."

Morton practically turned purple before bellowing, "Call them back. Get on those programs."

Serendipity often plays a huge role. I booked the gigs, before Morton asked why they wanted me. When Time magazine and the New York Times carried the story, it was merely improbable. When Jane Pauley featured Gifford Pinchot and me on The Today Show , all bets were off. The program aired around the world, and has re-run for years. I didn't yet know the downside. Over the next few months, I couldn't help reflecting on how all of this had happened, years earlier.

New Assignment - Large Screen Display

With two successful designs already under my belt, I felt that I'd earned a chance to lead a project at the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Colorado Springs oscilloscope division in early 1966. My perfectionist boss, a taciturn engineer named John Strathman, showed me a list of eighteen possible projects. A tight-lipped smile crossed his face as he said, "You're my top designer. Pick three projects you'd like to work on."

I practically jumped for joy. Wow! Really? I picked two - each a novel extension of our oscilloscope technologies to be linked with a computer for automated measurement. Strathman scowled, bit down hard on his omnipresent pipe, and in a gravelly voice said, "You don't want those two - I've already promised them to Gus." My grandmother might have sighed, "Well, that turned out to be a fine kettle of fish." Infuriated, I exploded: "Why'd you tell me I'm your guy, and then give me a list on which you've already cut deals?"

No matter. The question remained: "What other projects would you like?"

I hadn't previously seen one project that was on the list - an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) control tower monitor. I asked John, "What is this one?" His cryptic answer: "We don't really know. It's a new request, not really an oscilloscope. Milt Russell in our cathode ray tube (CRT) department might know something about it."

I had been with HP four years, in the 'scope division, and while we were good at it, Oregon-based Tektronix was better. They had nearly all of the market, and we were perennially seeking end-runs with niche products to stay alive. We were the only HP division building products that showed images on a CRT. The FAA wanted to see images of airplanes near an airport - recall movie scenes where a control tower is tracking radar blips on CRTs that indicate planes. They asked our division management to bid a project using a large-screen oscilloscope CRT to replace some kludges that they'd had for years. Tektronix had already said 'no.

On the left, a very large CRT display in a relatevely short
envelope for the HP 1300A, From the HP Journal, Dec. 1967.
Courtesy of the Hewlett-Packard Company

Milt Russell, a short soft-spoken scientist with a slight middle-European accent, had come from General Electric, the company which built the display equipment extant at airports. Russell was touting a new technology - an expansion mesh lens - that he believed could shorten the length of the picture tube dramatically (from 54 inches to 18 inches), making the overall display unit much more adaptable to some of the smaller control towers.

Milt and I eyed each other. It was reminiscent of two dogs warily circling a fire hydrant. I thought, "Well, here's a project that no one in the division will know whether we're doing well or not. It might be a chance to do something interesting." We each said "Yes, sure."

I had been excited about dynamic 'large screen' pictures ever since building a color television science fair project in junior high school. For this project, there was a new requirement, however, that Milt hadn't considered. The FAA wanted the CRT to show more than a radar blip - they wanted letters alongside the blip to identify the flight number, a goal that seemed hard to do with this expansion mesh lens approach.

Sure enough, the prototype that we built didn't meet the FAA needs since it defocused the letters that identified the planes. Russell was fiddling with the focusing problem with little progress, while I sought applications where focusing wasn't so important. We could have, and maybe should have, gone back to our bosses and said, "Hey, this won't work for the FAA requirement. We should call FAA and say 'we're sorry' and then cancel the project."

From the December 1967, HP Journal. Courtesy of the Hewlett-Packard Company

The prototype that we had built was pretty intriguing, though. Essentially it was a very high speed television set. The size of the diagonal screen was impressive, fourteen inches instead of five - giving eight hundred per cent larger display screen. Engineers would come over, look at this prototype unit, and laugh - the common joke was that we were building a TV set so that you could watch the movie Gandhi in four minutes, since it was so much faster than normal TV. Other wags opined that it was an oscilloscope for near-sighted long-armed engineers.

A key distinction from ordinary television displays, though, was the vector graphics capability. This was not a raster-scan TV approach, but a directed-beam technology, radically increasing the speed of display for such things as scientific data or two-dimensional wireframe computer-aided design. Since no analogous system had ever been available, it was hard to find comparison products. Nonetheless, the prototype pictures created lots of interest in some circles.

By the time that Strathman and his boss, Dar Howard, figured out that we couldn't solve the FAA problem, I was in love with the types of pictures we could display. Wanting to take the unit to some potential customers, I was pretty strongly told 'no' - first, HP did not allow engineers to go alone to customers (you had to have a sales representative go with you); second, we couldn't afford the extra travel expense; and third, HP didn't allow prototypes to be shown to customers because that might tip our hand to our competitors. Permission denied.

On the Road Again - with a Huge Transit Case

Then our division manager, Stan Selby, had a heart attack, his second one in five years. His wife called me to ask if we could bring the unit to his hospital room. He wanted a 'heart monitor' so that he could watch his own EKG measurement as he laid in bed. Voilà! We had found our first application - a visual medical heart trace from a distance. One of our two circuit designers, Tom Bohley, loved this since his wife was a practicing nurse.

I proposed to Strathman's boss, Dar Howard, to take the box with me on a personal trip to California for the upcoming Christmas holidays, calling on customers where HP sales people had set up the meeting. This met two of the three objections - the contacts and the travel cost. For the third point, I argued that if we were going to cancel the project for lack of market, there was no real danger in 'tipping our hand to competitors' since we wouldn't build it anyway. Howard said, "okay" - Strathman, miffed that I'd gone around him, grudgingly acquiesced.

Now what? Or rather, who? I scoured magazines, and found several possibilities. Burr-Brown built data recorders, not unlike our San Diego division, except that theirs were big military units. They had a division in Albuquerque, and another in Phoenix. Al DeVilbiss, the key circuit designer on my team, suggested some folk at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Lab, and I'd already thought that Gilbert McCann, Caltech's lone software professor, might be worth seeing.

The box was too big to put in my car. I had to package the unit - in an eight cubic foot box, two feet on every side - take it to the airport, and fly it from place to place. At each stop, I'd put my family in a motel, take the right front seat out of my vintage Volkswagen, go to the airport, get the box, bring it to the motel, unpack it, and then go to the customer. No HP representative ever accompanied me; they were only too happy to skip the visit during the holidays.

The first visit - Burr-Brown - proved quite interesting. Their first response was 'why are you calling on us? HP recorders are a competitor of ours." I parried this by saying that we thought they had different requirements, and indeed that proved true. They were enmeshed in the space race to the moon, trying to build tracking equipment for NASA Houston. They recommended three new companies that I had not known, all in Los Angeles where we were headed. One of those was Tasker Industries; another was Information Interactive Incorporated, called "Triple I".

I met with twenty potential customers in two weeks. In terms of generating excitement, it was phenomenal. I talked with people who wanted to display computer signals, folk hoping to create space video images, medical doctors seeking surgery room displays - even astronomers. They all reacted with enthusiasm. I described the box, and gave them anticipated price and delivery - figures that I made up since we didn't yet have details like that.

Unfortunately, the findings weren't persuasive enough back home. At the February division review, Packard asked my team about the technology. After we were excused, he asked about the market. The executives punted, saying they'd only found a few potential customers. They didn't ask me - I was a designer, sans experience estimating market sizes for new appliqués. Packard told them: "When I come back next year, I don't want to see this project in the lab."

Told this verdict the next day, I was quite upset. Bill Terry, the marketing manager for the division, was a talented, energetic voluble man, destined a decade later become one of HP's three executive vice-presidents. His preliminary market prognosis was thirty-one units, a number that enraged me since it seemed based more on a SWAG (scientific wild ass guess) than any hard data. I countered by saying that he'd missed by at least six percent, since he had not called my father, who wanted two units. My boss, John Strathman, sat glumly at the end of the table; his boss Dar Howard was on the side. I argued for the applications; Howard was courageous enough to let us continue. It wasn't a huge decision - probably an extra $60,000 to continue for nine months into production. But when Packard returned a year later, he nearly had a stroke when he saw it - pounding the table for emphasis, he shouted: "I thought I said to kill this damn thing."

I witlessly said, "No, sir. You said when you came back, you didn't want to see this in the lab. It isn't. It's in production." Judging from his facial expression, the answer didn't satisfy.

At the time, virtually all computers used punch cards or teletype interfaces to input programs. The idea of interactive screens - the kind of thing we take for granted on our computers, laptops, and smart phones today - was completely unknown. And truth be known, we didn't imagine this when I started the market research trip either. I knew that Ivan Sutherland was experimenting with CRT displays in his MIT laboratory. Several of us at HP had attended the innovative IBM Share Design conference in New Orleans in May 1966 where Sutherland showed his CRT display for a demonstration of work he was doing on IBM equipment for Ford Motor Company. Our prototype display was already running, and Sutherland's presentation gave me inspiration for possible applications that led to the eventual 'market research trip' at Christmas time. But even when I visited Sutherland's lab in mid-summer 1966, no keyboard was tied to the display. Instead it was linked to a remote camera in Atlanta to show remote video, prescient of the Aspen 'virtual tour' that he would pioneer at the University of Utah later.

Both Triple I and McCann's lab, though, talked to a different vision. Glen Culler had produced a few units of a graphical scientific terminal in his University of California at Santa Barbara lab, which had a dedicated keyboard for user interaction; McCann had a Culler unit.

Triple I, with an incredibly big roomful of computing equipment, was trying to construct dynamic graphical images for Hollywood movie-making, the first precursor of computer animation capability that they pioneered most famously on Tron , setting a stage for Pixar later.

Specific non sequiters stood out - such as the day our product marketing person, Scott Elkins, came in to say that he could neither find a single application nor a prospective customer, but he wanted to borrow our prototype display box for a meeting where he needed to show a class some dynamic displays. I thought - "you need this box, but you cannot find any prospective users?"

Another problem loomed. We had no priority versus other projects that vied for overloaded support services. I found that a case of beer for the model shop brought folk in for weekend overtime; a keg for a party got the tool and die makers to grant us extra evenings. As we neared the end, the manufacturing department, which had veto power over any new release from the labs, voted "no" on building the product. Armed with certain knowledge that our very survival for the project depended on the speed of introduction, I spared few words in describing my displeasure with a bellicose fellow named Don Palmer, who ran the manufacturing lines with a marine sergeant's authoritarian air. Palmer showed little interest in producing our machine, citing lack of market forecast. The strident meeting ended at 11:45am; he went home for lunch, placed a shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. I was stunned. Twenty-six years old, I had never known anyone to commit suicide. I took it personally, awakening many nights in a sweat.

I would learn later that he left a note for his wife, citing a medical diagnosis of an incurable disease that he'd received earlier in the week. It helped in terms of assuaging guilt, but the finality of the act, and the proximity of the argument, would haunt for a long time. I don't think anyone else in the meeting that day made the connection, but I couldn't shake it for a long time.

Success is Sweet

HP 1300A as Graphics Monitor

The HP 1300A X-Y Display did get produced, unexpectedly ushering in a radical change for the electronics landscape. But this revolution started pretty slowly. Three months after sales release, we had already sold forty units, more than the worldwide 'need' - a pleasing if not rousing launch. Among the first users was Alan Kay at Ivan Sutherland's new computer graphics lab at the University of Utah - Kay's prototype 'personal computer' used the HP 1300A as the display, tied to a keyboard. His first intern job a year later was at Beehive Terminals, where the keyboard and CRT were wed to produce an alphanumeric computer input device.

Three of Alan Kay's classmates - John Warnick, who founded Adobe; Jim Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics; and Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar - would forever change the face of both interactive graphics, computing, and movie animation, all based on derivative perspective from this novel X-Y vector graphics display.

For the division, it was a classic case of renewal for an 'old technology' rejuvenated by an internal improvement. From external perspectives though, it was much more revolutionary, shifting instrumentation readouts from numeric answers to graphical answers, with user data conveyed dynamically rather than by knob. Before these displays arrived in the late 1960s and early 1970s, virtually all test equipments - whether for engineers, chemists, doctors or nurses - had a moving needle against a dial, or showed simple numbers. Afterward, almost all outputs were two-dimensional graphs, greatly adding to the information content as well as user understanding. These new displays inspired reconsideration of how best to 'work with' computers, spawning a new design discipline - Human Computer Interaction (HCI). This work, foreshadowed by Doug Engelbart's work at SRI, would ignite when the XeroxPARC iconic interfaces appeared a decade later, followed by the Apple MacIntosh computer for the masses.

HP 1300A with HP 2116A Computer

The new applications for this display box were compelling. It became the first commercially available computer graphics CRT. Beyond wunderkind Alan Kay's ‘personal computer,' Doug Engelbart bought one to experiment in the first demonstrated Computer Network in the famous "Mother of All Demos." It won a Hollywood Oscar for technical screen graphics, it was the surgery room display for Dr. Norman DeBakey's first artificial heart transplant, and it was the basis for the TV space video of Neil Armstrong's foot landing on the moon July 20, 1969.

These high-visibility successes though were in the future - for the moment all we had were a few sales and a peeved CEO.

My team completed three large-screen models, portraying dynamic pictures, graphs, and text for a variety of applications, inspiring designers in many realms. Seventeen thousand large-screen display units were ultimately sold - thirty-five million dollars worth. Given a chance to talk about the program to a division-wide group, I naively gave a speech that identified four stages that an intrapreneur endures. First, your original idea gets ignored - too radical. Second, when the idea grows, it is seen as a threat - others try to stop the project. Third, as momentum builds, they try to corrupt, debase, or emasculate the idea - to rid it of its truly radical capability. Fourth, when it succeeds, they take credit for creating, modifying, or completing the idea.

The speech provoked Dar Howard to remove me from program management. John Riggen, a senior designer who had helped me finish my first HP project three years earlier, took over the group, developing small-screen displays that sold an additional two hundred million dollars and an estimated five hundred thousand units for HP before replacement technology arrived. It took several years to realize that Dar 'kicking me out' was a helpful maturing event - the political problems of this larger market were beyond my skill set or interest. The removal proved quite freeing, enabling me to work on more interesting problems. I had confused position power with opportunity - all too easy to do. Managing differs from intrapreneuring or entrepreneuring.

HP 1308A Medical Monitor

All Rights Reserved,
Charles H. House,
Copyright 2011

Charles H. House



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