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3 Innovation Principles from Hewlett Packard's Innovation Chief Sam Lucente And How They Can Guide Us Through The Recession.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on October 22, 2008

We are entering what may be a sharp and perhaps prolonged recession and innovation can help companies get through it. I remember talking with HP’s Sam Lucente a while back about what he did when Mark Hurd took over as CEO. HP was then in crisis and Hurd, an operations guy, was called in to save the company.

Sam told me that, as a designer, he came up with 3 principles that could help HP and Hurd. They are based on the power of design. Here they are:

1- Design Can Simplify. Design can save money by creating a common design language among different products that reduces parts and makes them more user-friendly. Design can also simplify supply chains and organizations in general, also saving money. Incremental design can be good design.

2- Design Can Differentiate. In a down market, a company needs to have THE product that consumers must have. That’s what Sequoia said recently to its startups. Design can come up with that killer product by understanding what customers need and want at this point in time and giving it to them.

3- Design Can Innovate. Recessions are great times to come up with a service, product or experience that is totally new and game-changing for launch once the economic recovery begins. Remember, Apple came up with Apple stores and the iPod as the tech bubble burst. Companies that cut back on innovation to save on cost in a downturn lose competitive edge in the upturn.

Thanks Sam. It worked for HP. It would work for all companies in this serious recession.

Reader Comments

Mike Scheiner

October 24, 2008 2:40 PM

I agree that design can have a significant impact in this economy. Companies need to see where they can consolidate their efforts or where they can gain efficiencies. Both of which design can have a pivotal role with. Use design to invigorate or stimulate a product. Either through its features, packaging, or by an added value. Such as a potential partner or resource that both parties can benefit by expanding to each other’s audience? Last, use design as a way to generate new ideas through all levels of the company. Ask the simple question: If you could change something to improve “ X” what would you do? I think you’d be surprised what you’ll hear, especially by looking at it objectively.


October 29, 2008 9:36 PM

The ultimate design, of course, would be the ability to design boutique Social Networks - that is, the ability to combine many very diverse knowledge assets in such a way that the rate of change of knowledge related to an economic target, product, or market is vastly increased.

This rate of change of knowledge can be used as a proxy for innovation.

Suppose we had an percentile search engine that could predict the probability that a diverse set of knowledge assets could execute a particular business objective. In reverse, what business objectives would most likely be successful given a divers set of knowledge assets?

This is the type of design that we need to have happening in Social Networks. They have such an important role to play in the discipline of design in the innovation economy - I hope that they figure that out sooner than later.

(The Ingenesist Project is an open source economic development project focused on inducing an innovation economy

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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