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HPMD Bullets

The HPMD Bullet
© Copyright 1996, HP Management Decisions Ltd., All Rights Reserved.

Summer 1995
Volume 1 Issue 1

Meet the Partners by Carolyn Lee
A year and a half has passed since the Happ brothers decided to combine their solo consulting efforts into HP Management Decisions. Looking at their level of success in such a brief time frame calls for an eager second look. After the following interview with Ed and Steve, the founding partners of HPMD, the reasons became obvious. The chemistry between the two forms a dynamic combination, bringing together years of top experience, refined intelligence, and a contagious humor.

I understand that the first time you both worked together, Ed, you actually hired Steve as a consultant to assist in the creation of a disaster recovery plan at the company you were currently working for. Why don't you tell us about that?

Ed: Now that was an interesting experience.
Steve: It was almost scary.
Ed: We should talk about that. We had never worked together. As a matter of fact, probably the only thing that we did during the past 15 years was talk a bit of shop and business on the frequent telephone calls that we had. Like every 6 months.
Steve: Twice a year.
Ed: So, what we did, working together... I'll sort of tell my perspective and then you can jump in here. We started talking about the problem at hand and I remember describing it in sort of quick, loose, panicking type of terms. Steve picked right up on it, launched right in, and we found that we were very much on the same wavelength, to the point where we started completing each others' sentences. I'd mention a thought or idea that I had come up
with and Steve would confess to having the same idea. Of course, I was the customer and he was the consultant, so naturally he would say that.
But I think the more important thing was approaching the problem solving from what was very much a common standpoint. You grew up in the mainframe data center environment and I grew up more with the desktop PC environment, with information services while you were more in manufacturing. Despite this, the actual process of approaching a problem, discussing it and sort of mapping it out for the solution, we were very much in tune. If Steve would mention an idea, I would say, "yeah, that makes sense." Or if I would mention an idea, usually you had already thought about it.
Steve: What was nice, is that whenever you would start talking about something, I knew where you were going with it. I knew why you thought that way.

“I think the more important thing was how we approached the problem from very much a common standpoint.”

Ed: There was it was a sense of accelerating -- accelerating ideas, building on each other. That's where we came upon the notion of "Ping-Pong" thinking. That bouncing off of each other, back and forth, like the Ping-Pong ball or the tennis ball in the tennis match, was a way to arrive at the solution. And to talk through the problems. It was almost like a chain reaction -- like the atoms Ping-Ponging off of each other and before you know it, you've got something nuclear, you've got a major light bulb that blossoms out of it.
I think that type of creative interaction, that type of bouncing off of each other in that way in the world of ideas, has served us well in the consulting arena.
Steve: Well, that's one of our

“It was a sense of accelerating - accelerating ideas; building on each other. That’s where we came upon the notion of ‘Ping-Pong’ thinking.”

main tools: the brainstorming session. And there's not really a methodology or anything that we can apply, because it's a matter of getting in there, throwing it open, and seeing what happens. I tell you, not just us, the teams that we work with, have come up with some pretty neat things just from brainstorming back and forth. And we have gotten a lot better at including the people in the room!
Ed: Yes, I think customers have embraced that type of discussion. I think the creative discussion of ideas is probably one of the real strengths of our consulting. But -- and here's probably where the real value added is -- there is not only the idea-a-minute type of marketing approach to things, that if left to itself, could run off in a million directions and never produce anything useful, and I think that that would only talk about one side of our business. The other side is terribly pragmatic in the sense of how do you turn it into deliverable? And I think there our project and product management backgrounds have really served us to think in terms of "deliverables"; something that you can put on the desktop and run, if it's technology, and if
Inside...Disaster Recovery Lessons
Recent Interesting Projects
To Contact Us
Page 2
Partners Interview...(continued from page 1)
it's a management idea, that you actually implement it and something happens. That way, things are never left in the realm of ideas.
Steve: But you see, it's a strange combination of balance. Because one of your biggest talents is that you can come up with a million ideas, just going to town, right and left. I have a tendency, to keep pulling it back to the focus; back down to earth. And then you come right back around and you have a big emphasis on this "deliverable;" get something that is delivered; that we can write up; that you can get your hands around and get something.
Ed: To "productize" it.
Steve: Productize it, exactly. And so you go from the open universe, I start pulling you down to earth, and then when you hit the ground, it's in the box.
Ed: That's probably a pretty good description.

You mentioned earlier that you have an emphasis on information services. How does that differ from being computer consultants?

Steve: I think it's very different. Typical computer consultants, most of the time, have fixed methodol- ogies, they are very geared toward technology, very geared toward project management, applying the specific technique to every project, really shoehorning it into the methodology. And there's a place for that in a lot of places.

Our experience, our background, has been both in technology and in management. You were Senior Vice President and I was Administrative Vice President. I had run data centers and computer centers.
Ed: So we both started as programmers, But we're not programmers. We can apply that knowledge in understanding the problems. But our emphasis in our business has not ever been to just deliver a piece of software.
There have been software applications as part of the solutions we've offered to customers, but it's always in conjunction with education; it's always in conjunction with the management context and the business context and because we've played very senior business roles as well, I think that's the difference. The fact is that you were a Vice President and I was a Senior VP and together we've got 35 years of hand's-on experience with a lion's share of that on the management level. That's a difference.
Steve: Well, I think that one of the reasons for our career successes was that management recognized that we were able to communicate with them.
Ed: That's a very good point, because I can remember VP's coming into me when I was an Applications Manager and asking me to explain something and being able to do it in non-technical terms and understand what their needs were and really to bridge that gap. And I think now, we think more as business people than we do as technologists, still having kept very current, I think, with the technology. I would say that if you had to draw the pie chart of our thinking now, I would say that it's more 70% management thinking and 30% technology.
Steve: I think that's probably right. But I remember, even as a programmer, I always approached programming assignments differently than anyone else. I didn't know I wasn't supposed to do that. When they told me to write an inventory control system
to be used in one of the food freezers, my approach to it was, I need to go spend a week in a freezer. And it's cold.
Ed: Wasn't it really hard to work a keyboard in the freezer? I mean, didn't frost form on the keys?
Steve: Well, you laugh, you jest, but..
Ed: (He really did this!)
Steve: When we talked about the system, we came up with these little hand held radio frequency devices for the fork lift drivers to operate when they were in the freezer. But we didn't know, we didn't think about it, when we were back in the programming shop, these guys have big, thick gloves on. They can't operate one of these little hand held devices, they'd be pushing four buttons at the same time. But when I spent the time in the freezer, I had to put the gloves on and I had to hold this little thing and say, "How am I going to do this? Am I going to do it with a pencil?" So that's how I approached things. You had to do it. You had to be a part of it. You had to understand it before you could write any programs for it.
Ed: Interestingly, I think we approach management consulting the same way, because it's the people component of this that is the critical aspect of it. Coming up with the ideas, just as coming up with the technology and the techniques or the methods, is really only half of the equation. It's having it be used in a day to day environment and having it function well, that completes the picture. Part of the secret to productivity is that it gets used; it gets adopted. You can really talk about the success factor being very much tied to the adoption factor. If it's adopted, that's a key aspect of it. So I think having

Five Disaster Recovery Lessons

Here is the compilation of observations we have made about disaster recovery operations. Most of these were learned at the school of hard knocks. They are worth pondering.

1. Do not get creative and improvise during recovery. Trying something new usually fails.
2. Run the recovery like a military operation with battle-station positions and defined actions. When under fire, the roles and actions must be automatic.
3. The key roles are the Field General, the Diagnostician, and the Communicator. Choose these people carefully.
4. Restoring the system is as
important as recovery. In other words, after switching to backups, restoring the primary system correctly must follow. Failing to do this right prolongs the perception of unreliability.
5. It is not recovered until the customer says it is recovered.

For a complete list of the 27 tips on Disaster Recovery or if you would like to receive articles on the following topics:
  • Product Management Proverbs
  • Measurement: Keeping Score
  • Meeting Proverbs
  • A Measurement Bibliography
  • Rewards
    Please call at (203)968-0202 or fax at (203)322-0281.
  • Page 3
    Partners Interview...(continued from page 2)
    been people managers for a large part of our career and being very sensitive and concerned about the people that have to implement things, or the people who have to change; changing the way a company does something involves people adopting and embracing that change. And so that, also, has been a very strong part of not only our careers, but also of the management consulting that we do.
    Can you make some kind of statement on your internal business philosophy and how that will continue to make you successful in the future?
    Ed: Let's talk about service for awhile. I think that's very much built into our corporate philosophy. We've defined service, in one of our seminars, as "helping the other person achieve what they need to be successful;" to help them reach their goals so that they are successful and that our success is very much dependent, solely dependent on their success.
    Steve: Vidal Sassoon.
    Ed: Yes. The Vidal Sassoon theory of service marketing that we banter about, that "we don't look good unless you look good." So I think the emphasis has been on helping people achieve their goals, not only in terms of their business, but in terms of their

    “Our customers are becoming better managers and being exposed to more ideas and thinking and trying new things as a result of working with us. That is our greatest testimony to success.”

    personal and career goals. I think that for some of our customers, we've given more advice on how to approach a management problem, or a personnel problem, or a career decision that they're facing. I think that that level of service interest, in taking an interest in how they are succeeding and doing their job, to the point of us fading into the background, and that our customers are becoming better managers and being exposed to more ideas and thinking and trying

    “Service is part of our make-up. It is not a philosophy that we’ve adopted because it’s a good thing to do; it’s just the way we are it’s what we are, it’s who we are.”

    new things as a result of interacting with us, is our greatest testimony to success; the greatest testimony to us is how they've changed.
    Steve: We're not focused on service because we decided that that was something that would make a company successful. I mean, you and I, independently have both been very, very interested in service. We do the same things. You go to a store and you notice some of the people doing things that are just driving their customers crazy. I can't leave that situation alone, it drives me up a wall. I'll find the manager and say, "Look, you know, here's the situation. You're going to drive your customers away." And I start giving them free consulting advice. I can't leave a situation where there's poor service going on. On the other side of the coin, I love to find an example of good service. And you're the same way,
    because you're a carnivorous reader and you eat all of that stuff up. And you have a tendency to write them all down so you can pass it on in presentations later as good examples of service.
    Ed: That notion of the service examples, that we're both intensely interested in good service and in bad service, and in pointing it out when it occurs. I think that has been built it into our corporate philosophy.
    Steve: It's part of our make-up. I mean it is not a philosophy that we've adopted because it's a good thing to do; it's just the way we are, it's what we are, it's who we are. We desire to make peo- ple happy with what we do. It's probably some neurosis -- some personality defect -- but we both have it.
    Ed: The service gene?
    Steve: Yes.
    Ed: The service gene it is. And wanting to please the customer; wanting to please who we're working with; wanting them to be happy not only with the work, but to be happy with us. And want to come back and deal with us again. I think a lot of that is glib sayings in the service literature, but Steve's right, it's not something we've adopted because we thought it was a good business idea; it's really built into who we are and what our personal beliefs are. You know, it's something that's pretty natural for us.

    If you're going to view service from the standpoint that part of your role in life is to help other people in their lives, then that becomes the foundation, the focus, the vortex from which you operate. It's not just something that's an added-on feature.
    Steve: That's it in a nutshell; it's who we are.

    Scoreboarding by Ed Happ
    [insert artwork]

    “Management feedback and business measurement have lost sight of the university model..."

    We believe strongly that the world of sports and the world of scholastic achievement needs to be applied more to business. In a university setting, very cerebral types of activities are taking place, as in the business arena. But at the university, you are more aware of the prerequisites to get to the next level. You need to get good grades, you have tests, and you know how you are doing as you go. You get report cards; you get the feedback. And then certain grades earn rewards, such as the Dean's list and scholarships. Eventually you get the degree, and go on from there. Also in sports, it is very clear what has to be done to get a first down or to score points. There are boundaries and there are penalties in addition to a scoreboard for feedback.

    Yet that whole scoreboarding, or that report-carding type of mentality goes away in business.
    You walk in the company, throught the front door, and it disappears. Management feedback and business measurement have lost sight of the university model: where it was very clear, right down to the individual desk. Every student had a specifi understanding. First you accumulate a set of very tangible, objective accomplishments. Once they are achieved, you then graduate to the next level, either to a job or to further education.

    We think that that has to be applied more in business. And it can be applied in positive and fun ways. There is an interesting book called The Game of Work, by Charles Coonradt, which talks about this concept; about applying gamesmanship to the company setting. We would like to see more of that done; we would like to be a force in our consulting work to help make more of that happen.

    Why? People want to do a good job; they want to know that they are achieving, they are excelling. They want to, if you will, 'bring home the good report card to mom and dad'; to take that pride in accomplishment; to be able to demonstrate success. And they
    also thrive on having people around them wanting them to succeed. Contrast that with many measurements and performance reviews in companies that are only an opportunity to point out failure, or an opportunity to write boilerplate type reviews. Our goal is that employees be able to keep score on themselves and know when they are winning. In auniversity setting, you know what you have to do the next semester in order to make the Dean's list. You become conscious of it and you orient yourself toward it. Then when you achieve it, there is a great sense of satisfaction; there is a great sense of personal direction: that you made it happen. It should be that way in a company. We think it could be tremendously motivating; it can be a positive force for productivity and success in a company. It is very people oriented; very people focused; very results driven.

    Scoreboarding: It's a good thing, put up the Diamond Vision screen in your office, and tell people how they are doing. Tell them how to win.

    Recent Interesting Projects
    Here is a sampling from our current project list. A strong area of interest for our clients continues to be to the area of measurement, or what we call "Scoreboarding." However, another thread in our work is a strong emphasis on process, illustrated by the current work we are doing in Product Life Cycles. But more on that in our next issue.
  • A Measurement Review and Strategy for a leading provider of financial and news information services.
  • An Executive Information System (EIS) Planning and Implementation project for the world’s leading shirt manufacturer.
  • An Operations Measurement Scorecard planning, education and implementation for two leading providers of investment market data.
  • A Balanced Measurement Scorecard planning, education and implementation for two leading providers of investment market data.
  • A Balanced Measurement Scorecard application in Lotus Notes for the Latin American division of a leading provider of financial and news information services.
  • Customer Support Seminar for the information services help desk for the leading provider of individual investor market data.
  • A Business Continuation and Disaster Recovery Plan and related Notes-based application for a leading electronic equity exchange.
  • A Product Delivery Life Cycle reengineering project for a leading provider of international market data and pricing services.

  • To Contact Us:
    Voice:203-968-0202 (Stamford)
    901-758-0102 (Memphis)
    Fax:203-322-0281 (Stamford)
    WorldCom:Ed Happ @ HPMD-Ltd @ WorldCom
    Steve Happ @ HPMD-Ltd @ WorldCom
    CompuServe:Edward G. Happ, 74211,3017

    © Copyright 1996, 2024, HP Management Decisions Ltd., All Rights Reserved.