HP’s rules of the garage

Hewlett Packard was known as a very innovative company. Whether the company is still on the right track is hard to see with all the changes in leadership (Leo Apotheker became CEO as of November 1st 2010 and was replaced by Meg Whitman in september 2011), but their humble beginnings in a small garage in Palo Alto have inspired entrepreneurs around the world. I recently encountered this poster containing their ‘rules of the garage’ at the wall at the Rockstart accelerator in Amsterdam. HP is one of the ‘partners’ (sponsors) of Rockstart.Image

HP was started in 1939 by William Hewlett and David Packard. Their first product was an oscillator used in sound systems. Eight of their oscillators were used by the Walt Disney studios. They were used for the sound system of Fantasia (which had it’s own revolutionary and very expensive sound system called fantasound).

For those who want the rules in text, these are the 12 rules.

  • Believe you can change the world.
  • Work quickly, keep the tools unlocked, work whenever.
  • Know when to work alone and when to work together.
  • Share tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.
  • No Politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage).
  • The customer defines a job well done.
  • Radical ideas are not bad ideas.
  • Invent different ways of working.
  • Make a contribution every day.
  • If it doesn’t contribute, it doesn’t leave the garage.
  • Believe that together we can do anything.
  • Invent.

It is not clear whether these rules were articulated ever by William and David themselves. They appeared first in an HP ad campaign in 1999.

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