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Craig Blackwood

Great post on Dave Packard! I came to HP over 22 years ago and I have been a fan of Bill and Dave’s philosophy since walking in the door and seeing the incredible company and culture they had created. For anyone not familiar with Bill and Dave’s legacy, I recommend a short video that HP produced called HP Origins. This is an excellent documentary on Bill and Dave’s philosophy and has clips of Bill, Dave, and other early HP leaders as well as commentary from people with a connection to HP like Steve Wozniak. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard left an incredible legacy for anyone, at any company, who wants to make a contribution to the world. You can find a link to watch the video online at

Peter Bouvier

It amazes me that I worked for a company whose management style is 180 degrees from 10 of Dave's rules. The company is losing its best people as can be predicted. Unfortunately the Senior management can't (or chooses not to) see the damage being done. I completely believe in and have included Dave's rules in my management style; They are echoed in nearly every good management resource I've read.
We managers need all the tools we can get and Dave's rules are extremely effective tools that help teams succeed. Thanks for reminding us of them.

Jared Cosulich

Also, love this quote:

Follow Abraham Lincoln's famous self-instruction: "I do not like that man; therefore I shall get to know him better."

I don't do it enough (or at all), but I would guess that most of the assholes out there are simply operating under some world-view that leads them to believe that they have to act like an asshole. Get to know them and you'll probably discover someone who is much more complex and human. Who knows, maybe you can influence their world-view enough that they'll stop acting like an asshole.

(just reread this and it sounds pretty naive and idealistic - so who knows - still seems like a potentially valuable way to look at the world)

Jared Cosulich

Love the fact that he's presenting these rules in 1958. It's good to know that, unlike so many products and technology, the art of management and the basics of how we treat each other will likely remain relatively constant for many many years to come. It's really too bad that you don't see more organizations practicing rules like these even with HP setting such a great and successful example.

I've wrestled with the whole "constructive criticism" thing myself. I just keep coming back to how effective it can be when someone achieves a level of confidence that allows them to comfortably self-diagnose their weaknesses. It seems like people are very quick to jump to "constructive criticism". Not sure it's a bad thing necessarily, it just seems like most people treat it as "I'm going to tell you your wrong, but in a nice way that makes me feel good, when it really just comes across as condescending".

Mark Buchan

I really enjoyed reading your post. Very valuable, interesting content.
I designed a free questionnaire to help people find out what drives your behaviours!

I would love to know what you think of it.

David M. Kasprzak

Thanks for a great post. I continue to wonder, with a great deal of dismay, why it is that despite decades or even centuries of leaders telling us what works, and what doesn't, we're still living in a world where work is a 4-letter word?

What is it that causes leaders to be so poor, and workplaces to be so miserable? Until we begin addressing root causes, we'll continue to have leaders that cause more harm than good, and people who hate going to work each day.

Work doesn't have to be a four letter word. People like David Packard have shown us the way. Why are so many resistant to practicing what's been known to work so well, for so long?

michael cardus

BIG fan of #5...the idea of learn from your mistakes causes repeated failures. Instead focus and learn from what is working and do more of it. The criticism often falls into the form of an either/or continuum. all x behavior is right ---> therefore all non-x (~x) behavior is wrong.
Creating a strong resentment and lack of new perspectives and solutions.


I think there is a big difference between constructive criticism within a culture based upon it and niggling at someone's personality defects.

I think constructive criticism, where everyone involved is braced for it, understands its importance and gives it out when necessary, is crucial. When Dave Packard says "eliminate the negative", my interpretation is that he means things more along the lines of complaining that so and so always borrows your hole punch without asking or is occasionally a bit snappish in the morning. That sort of criticism isn't going to get the person to change and is just going to make them dislike you.


Interesting that for guidance that seems so common sense, and paints the culture in such a positive way, the exhortation on the link you provided is:

"Dave's document, reproduced here, is intended for HP internal use only. It may be shared informally with friends and family, but should not be sent to outside media or public bulletin-board systems."

I suspect that says all we need to know about the company in 1958 and what it is today.

I completely agree with your point on there being nothing new under the sun of management. I'm constantly struck by how much more management help I get from historical and even classical sources than from modern business writing. Present company excepted, obviously. A bit more interest in and respect of what's already out there would save a lot of time, but of course earn modern authors of such literature a great deal less.


I like this post a lot! For the #5 item: eliminate the negative, I'd like to discuss further. Currently, companies are encouraging 'providing constructive feedback' to others. To me if it's constructive, it comes with a certain negative sense in it no matter how you sugar it on top. So should we just ignore the negative part but then the whole feedback culture will collapse within the company. What do you or others think?

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