The Rules of the Garage

We’re buried under a mountain of work here at Atlas Geotechnical World Headquarters, but you all know I advocate for action (or as our good friend Andreas says “MSH, man, make s*%# happen.”) One aspect of  busy times in the office is that always there remain nooks and crannies in your schedule for brief tasks.  So, I’ve been meaning to put this out to you all for some time, and now seems to be my best opportunity.

This post involves a bit of Bay Area folklore, a distilled version of the management philosophy of the seminal high-tech firm and it;s two founders who left an indelible mark on every discipline of engineering : Bill Hewlitt and Dave Packard. In 1935 both graduated with EE degrees from Stanford (the “junior university” across the tracks from Cal, from whence all good engineering emanates…). Despite these meager origins (joking – all in jest) four years later they formed a partnership that they named, by coin-toss, Hewlett-Packard. Their original premises were the 1-car garage at 367 Addison Avenue, Palo Alto. Their success at that location created the epicenter of what we now call the Silicon Valley.

Wikipedia tells the story better than I ever could:

The part of the story that I want to emphasize are the “Rules of the Garage.” I have no knowledge about how the Rules were developed or by whom. All I know is that these are the Rules, and that we all would do well to adhere to them.

garage 2

I suggest that you all follow the Rules.  They’re widely publicized because they work, and not just for high-tech startups (which is what HP would have been called if such a thing existed in 1939).  Of the 11, these are the three that I keep close to my heart:

1.  Believe you can change the world

4.  Share – Tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.

7.  Radical ideas are not bad ideas.

Each of the Rules is important to your practice.  Customer satisfaction, innovation, collaboration.; these are the hallmarks of successful consultancy.  Clip that photo and refer back to it while you’re revising your strategic plan or deciding to branch out into new fields.  Positive and innovative thinking is crucial to success, and the Rules that Hewlett and Packard formulated for us are a  beacon on our roads to success.

More information about the actual structure and HP’s commitment to preserving the birthplace of Silicon Valley is here: