I've been reading Michael Malone's fascinating book "Bill and Dave: How Hewlett and Packard Built the World's Greatest Company." I think it is a great read. One of my favorite parts is a more complete description of the story about how -- after directly defying Dave Packard's orders to stop working on a product -- Chuck House continued working on an oscilloscope that became a commercial success. Rather than punishing or firing Chuck, Packard gave him a medal for "Extraordinary Contempt and Defiance Beyond the Usual Call of Engineering." The HP insiders I know who have read the book say they like it, but do complain that it glosses over Hewlett and Packard's flaws. Nonetheless, it is an instructive read, especially given how different the assumptions that Hewlett and Packard followed are from those seen in most companies.
I was especially intrigued by Packard 11's simple rules, which he first presented at an internal meeting in in Sonoma in 1958. If you follow these, you don't need the no asshole rule. These are fantastic guidelines for building a civilized workplace. Take the first one, for example: "Think of the Other Fellow First." Sure it is simple, sure you knew it, but seeing the world through others' eyes is probably most important single step for avoiding the self-obsession and selfishness that routinely happens when people are put in positions of power, as I discussed on this blog earlier this week.
Here is the list. I've found this on many places on the web. This version comes the HP website, here. It does caution that is is for internal use, but as these have been published so many places and they are such wonderful standards, and I found it on a public website, I can't imagine that putting here can do any harm -- only good.
Dave Packard's 11 Simple Rules
1. Think first of the other fellow. This is THE foundation — the first requisite — for getting along with others. And it is the one truly difficult accomplishment you must make. Gaining this, the rest will be "a breeze."
2. Build up the other person's sense of importance. When we make the other person seem less important, we frustrate one of his deepest urges. Allow him to feel equality or superiority, and we can easily get along with him.
3. Respect the other man's personality rights. Respect as something sacred the other fellow's right to be different from you. No two personalities are ever molded by precisely the same forces.
4. Give sincere appreciation. If we think someone has done a thing well, we should never hesitate to let him know it. WARNING: This does not mean promiscuous use of obvious flattery. Flattery with most intelligent people gets exactly the reaction it deserves — contempt for the egotistical "phony" who stoops to it.
5. Eliminate the negative. Criticism seldom does what its user intends, for it invariably causes resentment. The tiniest bit of disapproval can sometimes cause a resentment which will rankle — to your disadvantage — for years.
6. Avoid openly trying to reform people. Every man knows he is imperfect, but he doesn't want someone else trying to correct his faults. If you want to improve a person, help him to embrace a higher working goal — a standard, an ideal — and he will do his own "making over" far more effectively than you can do it for him.
7. Try to understand the other person. How would you react to similar circumstances? When you begin to see the "whys" of him you can't help but get along better with him.
8. Check first impressions. We are especially prone to dislike some people on first sight because of some vague resemblance (of which we are usually unaware) to someone else whom we have had reason to dislike. Follow Abraham Lincoln's famous self-instruction: "I do not like that man; therefore I shall get to know him better."
9. Take care with the little details. Watch your smile, your tone of voice, how you use your eyes, the way you greet people, the use of nicknames and remembering faces, names and dates. Little things add polish to your skill in dealing with people. Constantly, deliberately think of them until they become a natural part of your personality.
10. Develop genuine interest in people. You cannot successfully apply the foregoing suggestions unless you have a sincere desire to like, respect and be helpful to others. Conversely, you cannot build genuine interest in people until you have experienced the pleasure of working with them in an atmosphere characterized by mutual liking and respect.
11. Keep it up. That's all — just keep it up!
P.S. The connections between the Stanford Engineering School and HP have always been very close. In fact, Bill and Dave borrowed $500 from Engineering Professor Fred Terman to start their company!