Bill & David’s garage rules

Most readers of my blog knows about my passion for HP calculators. But you may not know the reasons why. First of all it’s about exploring new mathematics. Secondly, the old programmable calculators offer the most easily accessible environment for programming – the calculators are small and with a push of a button, you can start programming away. Thirdly, it’s the sturdy design and craftsmanship and the constant innovation that used to be the hallmark of HP. The very essence of Old Hewlett Packard is captured in the rules that Bill Hewlett and David Packard put up on the wall in the their first office space – a garage:

  • 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.

That mindset formed the foundation of what came to be one of the most successful technology companies.

These days, we find tech businesses more focused on focus than innovation. More focused on regulating people than encouraging them. And more driven by profit than their heart.

One day I will implement this mind set in an modern technology company. I will keep you posted.


5000 reads on Scribd

I swung by and found that my articles now have a total of more than 5000 reads. That would account for around half the number of total reads of those articles (the rest being read on and elsewhere). If you haven’t yet looked at the articles, now is the time to nudge you to swing by the same place 😉

Writing articles: Collaboration

Writing articles in collaboration with great people

HyperList: Everything. Concise and precise.

HyperList is a methodology to describe anything in plain text.

HyperList can be used to describe any state or transition – anything from simple shopping and todo lists to large project plans, process design, the human history, the human DNA or the whole universe.

With HyperList, descriptions become simple, easily readable, concise and precise.

After a couple of months of work, and with a total overhaul, WOIM has been transformed into HyperList! I would like to extend my thanks to Marilyn Abrahamian for her invaluable help in proof reading and for suggesting some new, very useful features.

You will find the HyperList document on my newly redrawn home page ( or by clicking this direct link to the HyperList document. It is also available on

I admit freely to being proud of this; I consider HyperList to be one of my most useful contributions so far.

For the users of the excellent text editor VIM, there is a plugin that makes it very easy to create and manage HyperLists in VIM. The plugin includes a large range of features such as:

  • Complete highlighting of HyperList elements
  • Collapsing and expanding of up to 15 levels in a list
  • Linking/referencing between elements (items) in a list
  • Easy navigation in lists, including jumping to references
  • “Presentation modes” where you can view only parts of lists and line-by-line
  • Creating and checking of checkboxes in a list, with or without date stamps
  • Encryption (and decryption) of whole lists or parts of lists
  • Auto-encryption of lists – making a list into an excellent password safe
  • HTML and LaTeX export of lists
  • … and many more features.

Enjoy 🙂

Choices, choices…

Looking to buy a new car, a house, an HP calculator or a new telescope. Looking for the perfect job? The perfect employee or the perfect girl? Or deciding between a set of possible choices and having a hard time making up your mind?

There is a simple tool that I have used many times when faced with difficult choices (including that of finding the perfect girl). It requires you to simply list all the important items in a requirement specification and giving each item an importance or “weight” (any scale will do). And then as you are faced with each case to evaluate, give that case a score on each item in the list of requirements. A simple example:

If you are to recruiting a new employee, the specification would consist of items such as “relevant knowledge”, “relevant job experience”, “proven production record”, “communication skills” or “empathy”. You would give each item a certain weight where “relevant knowledge” could be given a weight of “4” while “empathy” for this specific job could be given “2” in weight.

When a requirement specification is populated with a list of weighted items, it’s time to pitch a set of cases against the specification. You figure out the scale you want to use and put a score on each item of the requirement specification for the case you evaluate. The scale goes from “0” to any number you set as the maximum score. A candidate for a job could score a “3” on “relevant knowledge” and a “5” on empathy on a scale from “0” to “5”. You then multiply the score with the item’s weight to get the “weighted score”. So even though the candidate receives a maximum score on empathy, she only gets a weighted score of “10” on that item compared to “12” on “relevant knowledge”.

Finally, you sum up all the weighted scores, divide by the sum of the item weights, divide by the maximum score and multiply with 100. Then you have a total percentage score of how well that case fits the requirement specification.

A tool? What do you mean with “a tool”?

You want a tool to help you create a requirement specification with a list of weighted items and then to easily manage and evaluate many cases against it?

Sure, I have that. Do you have an HP-41 calculator?

I know, I know. It’s a stupid question. Of course you have the best calculator ever made sitting right there on the table and in daily use no less.

Then I will supply you with this neat evaluation program utilizing a new trick; dynamic menus.

What’s that? Well, head on over to my calculator’s page and check it out. Choosing the perfect girl is at right your fingertips.

Processes, automation and human potential (final cut)

After a solid overhaul, and with added concepts and information, the article “Processes, automation and human potential” is now published and available on It is also available here.

From the abstract:

The following article attempts to illuminate some important aspects of business and organization, such as:

  • What can and should be automated?
  • When should you trust people rather than processes?
  • What is responsibility and how can you ensure the intended production?

This article tackles the basis for automation, processes and human potential for reaching goals.

For the readers interested in Scientology – this article incidentally explains why perhaps the main policy of Scientology, the “Keeping Scientology Working” spells the demise of the subject itself.

Processes, automation and human potential

I have been working with an article that captures the essence of my recent professional work, during the last year or so. Brendan and I have been consulting several organizations with the aim of helping them achieve better results – be it more revenue or profit, more efficient use of time, customer satisfaction, better cooperation or above all releasing individual initiative, responsibility and creativity.

I release the article here first to invite feedback from the wonderful and smart contributers on this blog. If you read the article and give some valuable input, you may be credited if you want.

The article is here: “Processes, automation and human potential

You can’t have your cake and eat it too

You can’t have a fixed procedure produce a fixed result in a world where randomness or free will exists.

The Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle shows that you cannot know both a particle’s momentum and position at a given time. You can only measure a high probability for either of these.

Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems tells us that no system can be both complete and consistent. You must choose; A system that is complete and inconsistent, or a system that is consistent and incomplete.

And a corollary to Gödel’s comes from the field of Systems Theory and points out that a fixed procedure will create variable results and a fixed result requires a variable procedure. You must choose – a fact very few business process managers are conscious of. Trying to implement a fixed procedure to obtain a fixed result is folly. Most often you would want a certain result – and hence you must allow for individual creativity and a loosely defined procedure. This is the basis for Adaptive Case Management.

Thinking that you can program a business like a machine will most probably lead to some interesting situations.

Realizing that you can’t have your cake and eat it too may just free up some mental stress.

Quality versus Quantity

It dawned on me a while ago that I could not come up with an example of any quality that could not be satisfactorily expressed in some quantities. I was a bit puzzled by this, but other interests grabbed my attention and so I let it go. Today a stray thought led me to this question once more: Is there actually such a thing as a quality that cannot be otherwise expressed as a set of quantities?

And here’s a very cool Hugh:

Hugh MacLeod