Oprah Time: Bill and Dave by Michael Malone

Hewlett-Packard is most familiar to consumers as a brand of ink jet printer and digital camera sold in supermarkets up and down the country. Some may remember that they had a Watergate-type moment recently and a woman CEO who made a dogs dinner of things.

I visited Boeblingen (near Stuttgart) – the European headquarters of Hewlett-Packard in the late 90s and left deeply unimpressed by a large but seemingly directionless technology behemoth. It wasn’t the kind of place where I wanted to develop my career in marketing communications.

Malone in his book Bill and Dave brings into perspective how important Bill Hewlett and David Packard were to the technology sector and modern business practices.

From a PR perspective, I found facinating the way Bill and David self-consciously built their own personal legends which helped support and extend the HP Way. The company’s culture was built, extended and modified in a deliberate, planned manner unparalleled in any other company.

Packard and Hewlett wrote the book on corporate reputation without the help of big name agencies and invented the elements as they went along, combined with a wisdom worthy of Solomon.