This week I was at HP’s Accelerate Executive Forum in Las Vegas. This is basically an HP Channel event and HP LOVES its channel. This is refreshing because, over the years, I’ve been brought in on a number of channel problems and they generally come down to the firm either abusing or ignoring their channel even though that channel accounts for more income than they can afford to lose.
Well, at this event, the number of times HP reached out to their channel, highlighted that arrogance was a bigger concern than competitors, and drove home the point (right out of Dion Weisler, their CEO’s, mouth) that HP is driven by their channel was record breaking.
But one other thing struck me. In a world where we are questioning whether our technology companies and CEOs are acting against us, HP also stood out as a company with heart doing things aggressively to make the world a better place.
Let’s take a break from our concerns about Facebook and Google and talk about another company that is doing well by doing good.
This event was a sales event and that means, typically, it is all about pitching product. However, instead when Weisler got up on stage he spent a significant amount of his limited time talking about COO Jon Flaxman who had recently died. I don’t recall any other company that would put the death of an executive, even a CEO, in front of a product pitch. From the standpoint of sales and moving product this would appear to be incredibly stupid, but from the standpoint of just appearing human and caring it was also the right thing to do.
You see one of the things that makes HP different is the folks in the executive ranks seem to treat each other like family. I’ve been thinking it may have come out of the nearly two decades of bad CEOs who seemed to have “employee abuse” as their middle names. Abusive parents can drive siblings together more tightly and I’ve wondered if that is why the HP team seems so tight.
I’ve watched other firms where the top executes seem just short of coming to blows and some of our biggest companies have cultures that seem defined by backstabbing and coups. HP isn’t like that. Weisler and his folks really seem to care for each other and—here is the thing—if folks don’t care for each other there is a pretty good chance they won’t care for their channel or customers.
I can’t help but channel HP employees watching this and sharing, undeservedly in my case, with some of the pride they must have felt for a CEO choosing to honor a co-worker over selling a product.
Making The World A Better Place
Like a lot of companies HP is aggressive on recycling materials, particularly with disposables like print cartridges. But another initiative caught my eye at the event and that was using a variant of automotive wraps to fight hate speech graffiti. Wraps was one of the things that I thought the old HP had screwed up on during their print decline. They are in many ways better than paint (more easily applied, more ecologically safe, and less carcinogenic than paint) and they can be easily removed.
But HP’s unique application was in response to hateful things people write on building walls. Wraps don’t take paint well—making them far easier to clean—and they are designed to be ablative—protecting the surface underneath them. What HP was promoting was using them as a response to incursions by bad actors to quickly cover up and beautify an area blighted by increasingly horrid graffiti. I can see it evolve over time into a shield against hate, reducing dramatically the abuse that appears to be growing in many neighborhoods and cities.
I think companies can do well by doing good—and not just token things, but really focusing on making a difference. Whether we are talking about showing heart with a fellow executive or adapting a technology to deal with abuse, HP is a one of the showcases for a company that is standing up to make a difference. I believe if we all point more to firms like this doing well more firms will do good and we’ll live in a better world. When you have a company doing good things it isn’t about convincing you to do business with them, it simply becomes more difficult to find a reason why not to.
HP is another example that you can do well by doing good.