David Packard, the co-founder of
Hewlett-Packard, defined himself as a HP man first and a CEO second. He was
a man of the people, practicing management by walking around. Packard is
quoted as saying: You shouldn't gloat about anything you've done; you ought
to keep going and find something better to do.
At Hewlett-Packard, where the MBWA theory was practiced, executives were
encouraged to be out of their offices working on
and keeping direct touch with the activities of the company. The practice of
MBWA at all levels of the company reflects a commitment to keep up to date
with individuals and activities through impromptu discussions, "coffee
talks", communication lunches, and the like.
"You can't possibly make the best or
quickest decisions without data," says
Michael Dell, the Founder of
"Information is the key to any
But data doesn't just drop by your office to pay you a visit. You've got to
go out and gather it.
"I do it by roaming around.
I don't want my interactions planned; I want
I want to hear spontaneous remarks. I want to come upon someone who's
teaching an elderly woman how to turn her system on for the first time. I
want to happen upon someone who is stumped by a customer's question and
help answer it if I can. I want to experience this, because this is what our
employees' days are made of, and it arms me with relevant information to
make the best decision on behalf of our customers and our people.
"Some days I show up at our headquarters
building; other days, I'll go to some of our other facilities. I show up at
the factory unannounced to talk to the people on the floor and to see what's
really going on. I go to brown-bag lunches two or three times a month, and
meet with a cross-section of people from all across the company. It's easy
to sit in a product meeting and say, "We have these new products and our
salespeople will sell them." But this may not be the reality. So I go to a
brown-bag lunch and listen carefully to what the sales force has to say.
It's a great way of learning what people are really dealing with on a
day-to-day basis, and provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and
"I believe you can learn a lot from incidental
interactions. I might be in a car with an account executive as we drive from
one customer to another. That's a great opportunity to find out what's
really going on. I'll ask, "What are your customers telling you? How do you
think the company's products are doing? What are you seeing in the
competitive market? What are the biggest challenges? What are the threats to
your success? How can the company support you better?" The qualitative data
are as important as the quantitative data in terms of keeping our people
motivated and our focus on target.
"I also enjoy roaming around outside the
company to see what people think of us."...