David Packard’s 11 Simple Rules

Many of you know that Hewlett-Packard was my first alma mater. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard created the gold standard, from my perspective, of strong company values which lead to the powerful HP Way culture. The company has suffered from poor leadership over the past decade, and I, for one, hope this company will resurrect itself in the sea of start-up software and social commerce companies. Time will tell; however, for those of us fortunate enough to cut our teeth under the stewardship of Bill and Dave were blessed by the lessons learned from their leadership.

Recently, I was purging through 30 years of old files, and ran across my ‘special file’ where I kept those unique articles, emails, letters, and notes which were ‘too good’ to throw away. I found an email from 1998 which summarized Dave Packard’s 11 simple rules on how to deal with each other on a daily basis. He believed if we followed these simple rules, we would all emerge as winners – as we would create spirit de corps in our organizations and build unwavering alliances with our customers and partnerships. They are timeless suggestions; and I can honestly say that Bill and Dave walked their talk. This was their legacy as leaders. I am so very hopeful Meg Whitman will hold fast to these truisms and continue her valiant quest to restore HP to the powerhouse it once was. Below is a shortened version of the email I found with my ‘two cents’ added in italics:

1. Think first of the other fellow. This is THE foundation for all relationships. Do unto others……

2. Build up the other person’s sense of importance. Allow him to feel equality or superiority, and you will build rapport. It is simply not about you – it is about them.

3. Respect the other person’s personality rights. Respect the other person’s right to be different from you. Thankfully, we are each on our own journey – and we each have our own stories to write.

4. Give sincere appreciation. If we think someone has done a good job – tell him. This does NOT mean empty praise, or flattery. The two most important words: thank you.

5. Eliminate the negative. Criticism seldom does what the use intends – it invariably causes resentment which can pollute for years. Constructive feedback needs to be the focus – given in love.

6.  Avoid openly trying to ‘reform’ people. Every person knows he is imperfect. If you want to improve someone – help him embrace a higher working goal – a standard to embrace – they he will do his own ‘make-over’ far more effectively.

7. Try to understand the other person. How would you react in similar circumstances? We need to attempt to meet people where they are – not where we are.

8. Check first impressions. Follow Abraham Lincoln’s famous self instructions: “I do not like that man; therefore, I shall get to know him better.”.

9. Take care of little details.  Watch your smile, your tone of voice, how you use your eyes, the way you greet people, the use of nicknames, remembering special dates, names, faces. Little things polish your skill on getting along with people.

10. Develop a genuine interest in people.  You cannot successfully apply the first 9 rules, unless you have a sincere desire to like, respect, and be helpful to others.

11. Keep it up. That is all: just keep it up!

The source of this talk was a 1958 Sonoma Conference where Dave Packard was addressing a group on how to work with each other AND how to treat their customers. He believed the relationships forged between and among individuals was THE precious commodity and THE distinction for the company.

I believe he was and is right on this point. 100% of our success is build on our RELATIONSHIPS. In the ever growing world of social media and online communities – these principals remain the same, despite many interactions being conducted interactively. In everything we do – our personal relationships, professional relationships, volunteer efforts, etc. – our success is tied to the strength of our relationships. Yes, these points are basic; yet, from my experience, in the relationships that have lasted and grown in strength  these 11 practices were front and center.

What do you think? Please weigh in…..




11 responses to “David Packard’s 11 Simple Rules

  1. Kristen – Wow I had forgotten about this – love seeing Dave’s list and it certainly brings back a lot of memories. Thanks for publishing this it is a timeless lesson that we can all use. – Julie Williams

  2. Kristen, thanks for this piece. Great!
    It is very ‘other’ centred and the thing is, one can never have enough of that, to make real progress in this world.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks Kristen for digging this up!! David Packard and Bill Hewlett nailed it when the made the working environment that HP staff worked in the best possible and the rest took care of itself…rarely seen these days!!

  4. As an HP re-hire, it is great to see how the company is embracing the legacy of these truly fantastic leaders once again. This is especially true within HP’s celebration of our 75th year in business.

    For those interested, here is link to HP site related to 75th Anniversary: http://tinyurl.com/laqmfaa

  5. Kristin, Right on point for what I needed to share this morning with my staff. Having been gone for a week, they will need to hear from me. This will be my intro message at morning stand up staff meeting. We have them every morning and this will be a focus point for us. Was great catching up over the weekend. Warmest of Aloha, Michael

  6. Kristin,

    Thank you for posting David Packard’s 11 Simple Rules.

    I joined HP fresh out of college; at the time it was THE place to work. In retrospect HP was a shining example of “conscious capitalism” decades before that phrase would start becoming mainstream.

    Having experienced the HP Way and seen it become “just another company” I am saddened. I think some of the causes of this shift from consciousness to unconsciousness are executives losing their nerve to do what’s right, period.

    HP seems to have bowed to the pressures from Wall Street, focusing too much on near-term payback to shareholders, at the expense of higher and longer-term payback to all stakeholders.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this-it’s a great reminder of how we should ALL treat each other, but especially as a leader. It made me think about how even body language and tone of voice makes such an impact!

  8. Wow is right – I also have a similar file with many articles from my 28 years with HP/Agilent. At the time the HPway was the only way. I am always proud to say I worked at HP!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *