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The Programming Rules from HP's Garage


The garage in Palo Alto where HP was born was the workplace of only two employees, the founders. Yet, to keep their core beliefs front and center as they tinkered and toiled, they posted a sign that articulated the guiding principles they shared:

  • Believe you can change the world.
  • Work quickly, keep the tools unlocked, work whenever.
  • Know when to work alone and when to work together.
  • Share tools, ideas. Trust your colleagues.
  • No Politics. No bureaucracy. (These are ridiculous in a garage.)
  • The customer defines a job well done.
  • Radical ideas are not bad ideas.
  • Invent different ways of working.
  • Make a contribution every day. If it doesn't contribute, it doesn't leave the garage.
  • Believe that together we can do anything.
  • Invent.

Succinct and to the point, the overarching core beliefs were to work together, invent useful things, and let the customer be the final arbiter. These principles are just as applicable today for start-ups as they are for established companies.

They also bear more than a passing resemblance to the foundational tenets of the Agile movement, although I think HP's principles are far more positively and clearly stated than the Agile manifesto. But even putting Agile aside, I would expect to see the HP rules in any enlightened software development organization or on any programming project — even if it consists of just two people.

Now, back to my workbench…

— Andrew Binstock
Editor in Chief
alb@drdobbs.com
Twitter: platypusguy


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