Hewlett-Packard: the Flight of the Kittyhawk

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In 1992, Hewlett Packard made the decision to produce 1.3 inch disk drives, leapfrogging over the 1.8 inch format to position themselves as market leaders for the smaller drive. Prior to this time, HP prided itself on its leadership position within this industry and its ability to innovate more quickly than its competitors. However, the Disk Memory Division (DMD) was lagging behind the company standard, comprising only 3.2% of total HP revenues in 1992. HP was trying to use the Kittyhawk project to propel the company into a higher profile position within the disk drive market. Potential uses for the drive included game equipment, PDA's, notebook and sub-notebook computers, handheld pen technologies and digital film cartridges. If Kittyhawk had been successful, the device could have become an industry standard, creating disruptive change for makers of these types of products, and could have achieved financial success of roughly $125 million in revenue for HP by selling 500,000 units. Though the product had potential to be a slightly disruptive technology (in essence a practical improvement) on smaller devices, the innovation would not have been competence destroying for current technologies. In order to position the Kittyhawk in the most advantageous way, HP took several actions to facilitate the product initiative, such as: • Physically separated the Kittyhawk team from the rest of the DMD area • Assigned a top notch team to the project, including representatives of several functional areas, high performers who were motivated and dedicated to the project's success • Generated several application possibilities for the drive • Allocated significant financial resources

• Stressed innovation as a proactive means rather than reactive • Empowered group to make decisions quickly as needed

Because HP is a culture firmly rooted in its ability to innovate, fueled by an incentive system that rewards bringing groundbreaking technologies quickly to...
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