Imaginary Guru

By March 9, 2006Report from America

Report from AmericaI was out in Denver on Monday and picked up the Denver Post to see a reallly good story on the front page of their Business section about how Hewlett Packard is building its innovation pipeline. Turns out the story orignates with the Dallas Morning News, and the Denver paper showed good judgment in picking it up for their readers, too.

The article is about Christian Belady, the “distinguished technologist” at Hewlett Packard and is entitled “Imaginary Guru” because he teaches the art of innovation to HP troops throughout the United States. He works out of the HP international center for supercomuting next to the University of Texas at Dallas. It’s pretty cool to think about the “art of innovation”, isn’t it? Sometimes we may think that innovation only stems from certain kinds of people but we know that in the right setting, innovation blooms. Just take a look at immigrants who come here from closed markets. At home, they were going nowhere. But in the United States, with freedom and capital, their smarts take them far and their new ideas transform the marketplace.

It turns out that Christian Belady comes from just such a tradition. His father is a Hungarian immigrant who founded a tech company in Texas. The senior Mr. Belady spurred his son by challenging him to make unique playtoys. Christian often learned from the mistakes he made. Yes, we can all learn from our blunders and do better the next time.

Belady’s work at HP seems to be paying off. Last year, HP produced nearly 1800 patents, just behind IBM and Canon. Eight of them were his and in the past six years, he has come up with 100 inventions that make computing hardware more powerful and energy-efficient. He hopes that his legacy will be that he infects others at HP with the same passion for new ideas that has guided him. Take a look at the full article which gives us a good look at the innovation process up front.