Ben Langhinrichs

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HCL - Summary in three words

Thu 18 Jul 2019, 10:51 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
For the past three days, HCL has been hosting a number of business partners and customers at the third HCL Factory Tour. It was an excellent event, and I'm extremely glad I found the time and went. As I drive home (9.5 hours of driving, so I have plenty of time), I've been trying to put together in my head the most important messages and moments for me.  One exercise I know executives like is the one word summary, but since I write stories and stories tend to favor threes, I decided to think of the a summary word for each stage of this factory tour: before the event, during the event, and after the event,
The obvious word from before the event was Hope. The partner community, while obviously wary, is more hopeful than they have been in a decade. The customers are catching on to that hope, and some are renewing maintenance who have been off it for a long time. HCL is brimming with hope that they can be a different company, enhance and build products that people will want to use, and recoup the investment in time, energy, and money. A number of people at the Factory Tour commented on how HCL feels like a startup in terms of its optimism and energy, and maybe also in its necessary naiveté. It is telling that on the walls inside the HCL offices it says "Those who say it can not be done should not interrupt those doing it". You need that attitude, and HCL has it. (IBM hasn't recently.)
There are a lot of words one could land on for the tour itself, but I think the one that struck me most was Transparency. HCL was very open about its challenges, its ambitions, its need for feedback. Many things were said openly that IBM would have had to run past its legal team for months before waffling about the answer. HCL just says it. They are insistent that they are a very different company than IBM, and that is one of the ways it shows. The engineers, product managers, everybody was out and talking with all of us and answering the questions they could and documenting the ones they couldn't. It felt much more like Lotus or early Iris days.
I loved a lot of what I heard, didn't like a few things I heard, but mostly was very impressed. But as I walked into a restaurant tonight, I saw a sign on the wall I had to take a picture of, as it perfectly captures the third summary word I'd use: Execution. The developers and sales people and marketing people are all working hard, but working hard isn't enough, and they all know it. They must execute on the promises and visions and plans, and it all needs to exceed our expectations, lofty as they may be. So, with all of us partners and customers out of the way, I'll leave this for HCL. This is your mission. The other words matter, but this matters most of all.
Execution: Stop talking and put in the work

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