Hewlett-Packard is measuring out business suits for its research and development arm, HP Labs. The vendor is reshaping its prestigious - yet never terribly profitable - research arm to "balance exploratory research with an entrepreneurial approach", the company announced today during a press event at its Palo Alto, California, …
You never know when a line of research will lead to something breath-takingly original that can create whole new markets out of nothing. So if you clamp down too hard on innovation and blue-sky thinking, and limit yourself to "buzz-word du jour" conventional wisdom, you may end up missing something hugely profitable.
On the other hand, you don't want to throw money into a pit forever. That's no way to run a business, as the original .bombs discovered too late.
It may be tough to make those calls. In fact, my gut feel is that the ability to make the right decision on research, most of the time, is what separates crap companies from outstanding ones.
Or, you could just copy everyone else's ideas, produce crap, and make people buy it anyway 'cos you're a monopoly. That sure saves on the R&D costs!
HP R & D - Good, bad and the ugly
I have worked through a number of HP R&D teams and personally I think I have experienced through a spectrum of good, bad and the ugly.
[Good team] First, I worked for a very well structured & managed team ie very little meetings, simple & light documentation process, and very solid technically. I have learnt a lot of build, test, review process. Very professional and good team spirit. I am in debt to the expertise and knowledge that I have gained from the team and it has been very helpful for me to move on to another job.
[Bad team] Then, I moved on to another team on some crappy product called E3. Basically it's a joke, especially in management. Meeting almost everyday, like having a meeting for another meeting. I remember one of the meetings was for everyone to moan about the Java IDL kept crashing and lost their works. The meeting went on for 1.5 hours and at the end there was no solution or decision made.
[Ugly management crowns] We once got gathered for a meeting by a senior management crown for informing us some so called 'confidential information'. After the meeting, I found out the news was already on the web!! So I thought I am an HP employee and I am not even worth to outsiders.
Another time, the morale in the dept. was pretty low. So the management crowns decided to create a survey for each staff to find out why morale is low and how to improve it. They told us they will release the survey results and work on the morale. However, nothing has happened. I guessed the management team realised how awful the survey was and decided not to disclose it.
Most start-ups die
' "In a way, we plan to inject startup DNA into HP Labs," said Banerjee. '
Yeah. Google was a start-up once. So was TransMeta. So were thousands of dot bombs in the 90's, soaking up cash and never heard from again. Which start-up does Banerjee have in mind, hmm?
Well, hope springs eternal. The joke when I worked at HP was,
"HP Labs. Where the rubber meets the sky:"
'M outta here.
Is anyone doing basic research anymore?
The colleges work for corporate funding or publication
The corporations are r&D ...(except maybe Watson labs)
The national labs have been politicized long ago
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