Pathankot, August 7
With the Pathankot administration successfully implementing the ban on mining, nearly 3,000 people engaged in the business have been left without any work. The state government, following the onset of the rainy season, has imposed a complete ban on mining from July 1 to September 30.
To rub salt into the wounds of local contractors, miners from the neighbouring states of HP and J&K are taking undue advantage of the situation. Scores of trucks laden with sand and gravel are entering into the state every day, a development which is illegal in nature.
Flying squads formed
I have formed flying squads to check the menace of ‘out of state’ vehicles. Several check-posts are being established at routes used by HP and J&K vehicles. —Harbir Singh, Pathankot DC
On June 9, 2022, the Secretary (Mining and Geology) had issued a notification, asking the state government to set up check-posts at nearly 20 places to ensure the illegal transportation menace was curbed.
With excavation from river beds being banned following the monsoon, local mining contractors are selling only that material which they have stocked at their storage points.
Trucks enter Punjab through various points including Meelwan, Tipri Badi Khad, Bamiyal and Madhopur. “These vehicles evade paying taxes in HP and J&K and in Punjab too they do not pay their dues thus defrauding the exchequer of lakhs of rupees,” said a mining department official.
Sources say a majority of the 120 odd crushing units left in the business are thinking of winding up operations.
Vijay Passi, president, Pathankot Crushers Association, said the administration should wake up to the grim reality and should stop the trucks coming in from the neighbouring states.
Trucks enter Punjab through various points, including Meelwan, Tipri Badi Khad, Bamiyal and Madhopur. “The vehicles evade taxes in HP and J&K. In Punjab too, they do not pay their dues,” said an official.
A ninja (忍者?) or shinobi (忍び?) was a covert agent or mercenary in feudal Japan who specialized in unorthodox warfare. The functions of the ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, and assassination, and open combat in certain situations…
Former HP CEO Leo Apotheker was ousted after 11 months in his role.
Jack Griffin, the former CEO of Time, Inc. after five months.
And Michael Woodford, former CEO of Olympus , was shown the door 3 weeks.
While each case in different, one fact remains the same: these CEOs didn’t manage their Board. Instead, they were blindsided. The Board behaved in a way the CEO hadn’t anticipated, he was considered non-crucial to the success of the company, and it was sayonara from there.
Boardroom Ninjas are becoming more prevalent. And they’re blindsiding CEOs more often.
The three most common reasons for Boardroom Blindsiding are:
1-CEO/Board conflict isn’t discovered and dealt with immediately.
2-Board members have differing agendas.
3-Board members provide varying value.
Yes, as the CEO you report to the Board. And you can manage Boardroom Ninjas efficiently and effectively by becoming a Boardroom Samurai.
Their covert methods of waging war contrasted the ninja with the samurai, who observed strict rules about honor and combat.
Ninja bad. Samurai good. Ok, let’s move on.
Know Your Ninjas
A ninja succeeds because they are efficient, effective, and unseen. You’ll do the same, yet you’ll use candor to be so upfront and visible that the result will either be disarming while building trust and respect. Boardroom Ninjas are sneaky and destructive. Boardroom Samurais are transparent, ask the tough questions, and continuously monitor progress.
First, ask the following questions of each Board member in a private one-on-one meeting (not as a group).
1) What is most important for the company over the next 2 years: ensuring long term profitability or increasing short term revenue growth?
2) What sacrifices should we make now to [based on the answer above: ensure long term profitability/increase short term growth]?
3) Are you getting the info you need at Board meetings to help us increase shareholder value and guide the company’s growth? If not, what would you additional info would you like to receive?
4) How specifically would you like to see me grow as a leader?
5) How specifically would you like to see our key executives grow as leaders?
6) What should our top 3 priorities be this quarter? This year? Next year?
From the above you’ll learn:
Prevent Or Neutralize Attack
Connect with the leader. Every Board has a tribal leader, and it may be someone not in the Chairman or Lead Director role. Who is the leader of your Board? If you have a potential executive exit, or are considering a new key strategy or alliance, let them know first. Then ask their advice. This engages their ego and emotions.
When you engage someone’s ego and emotions two terrific benefits result: first, they want to be the wise advice giver, so they’ll tell you what they’d do were they in your shoes, and second, they will be invested in your following their advice. Ask their help in implementing their advice and check in with them on your progress.
Check in twice annually. If you check in with your Board members twice annually (see Know Your Ninjas above) you’ll significantly reduce the chances of Boardroom Blindsiding. Then follow up so they see progress.
Report well. Provide high visibility to your Board via clear and concise reporting, and short info updates between Board meetings (5 bullets on progress and wins, 5 bullets on opportunities/concerns). At the end of this blog you'll find a very high level framework for Board reporting for a software company. Yours will vary, but the key is to identify and report consistently on key success metrics for your Board can easily monitor the business progress at each meeting.
The key is to continually build and manage the Board’s confidence in you, and to ensure you only spend about 3-5% of your time on Board management. Your value is in building the company, not preventing attacks.
What are your Board management challenges?
Where have you succeeded with tricky Board issues?
Christine Comaford combines neuroscience and business strategy to help CEOs achieve rapid growth and create high performance teams. Follow her on twitter: @comaford. Her current NY Times bestselling book is entitled SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together.
Join her tribe and get free webinars, neuroscience resources, and more by clicking here.
SAMPLE FOR BOARD REPORTING (Simplified, I admit!)
For each department:
- Goals achieved last quarter
- Goals not achieved last quarter and why
- Goals to be achieved this quarter
Details per department:
- Deals closed and high level terms of each deal
- Spec for ideal client/partner in each client/partnership category
- Sales strategy
- Why deals were lost: Did the sale go to a competitor? Who? What was their
proposition and why was it better than ours? Was the sale lost because a new
decision maker joined the fray? Why didn’t we know about this in advance?
- # of inquiries responded to for the month, % breakdown of clients vs. prospects
- Average time to resolution on each client inquiry
- % of clients who have contacted client service repeatedly and how often
- Strategy for up-selling/down-selling/cross-selling in this function
- Technology used, integration issues, expertise needed
- Scalability, robustness, extensibility proof
- Testing approach, hosting/co-location approach and vendor
- Release schedule and key features per release
- Lead generation and qualification: the sales funnel (leads being pursued) and the
amount of time it takes a lead to move into the sales pipeline (and become a
prospect), time it takes a prospect to become a client
- Client acquisition, retention, optimization (up-selling) strategies
- Key marketing activities: mailings, conferences, trade shows, press coverage
recent past and upcoming
- Product management issues, if any
- Web site revs upcoming and high level details
- Stock options to be approved for issuance
- Head count (perm and temp) today and projected for quarter
- Burn rate today and ramping over next 3 quarters
- Any current or potential employee issues
- Balance Sheet, P&L, Statement of Cash Flows
ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul's administration is extending a contract with an outside law firm for a year to continue allowing Executive Chamber employees to have access to private legal counsel for any potential complaints involving unlawful workplace discrimination, harassment or retaliation.
The initial contract with the law firm ran from October to June and was valued up to $150,000, according to a copy obtained by the Times Union. Hochul's office said it has requested to extend the contract with the Calcagni & Kanefsky to next June.
In 21st century classrooms, blackboard chalk is on the endangered list, the pop quiz has been replaced with clicker questions, and bowling alley technology (overhead projector transparencies) has disappeared, thanks to digital projectors and document cameras.
But if you’re going to point to any aspect of the classroom that still hasn’t covered much ground on its trip into the 21st century, it has to be the textbook. This ubiquitous accessory has been beset by editorial controversy as we have seen recently in Texas; has seen consistently high price increases of an average of six percent per year; and still inspires parental derision for the outdated information often portrayed.
And then there’s the matter of weight. The heft of textbooks was the subject of a 21-page report written in 2004 in California for the state’s board of education. According to researchers, the combined weight of textbooks in the four “core” subjects (social studies, math, reading/ language arts, and science) ran, on average, from eight pounds at the first grade level to 20 pounds at the 11th grade level. Legislation to mandate weight limitations quickly followed in that state.
As this comparison of two school districts on opposite sides of the country and economic spectrum illustrates, in a world rich with alternative methods of delivery of content exemplified by digitized conversation, Google books, the Kindle and iPad, the textbook is the next classroom object worthy of transformation.
“Everyone has a different 1:1 approach,” says Gary Brantley, chief information systems officer for the Lorain City School District. “Ours was to eliminate the books.”
Lorain City Schools is located in a city 35 miles from Cleveland. The district has 18 schools and 8,400 students. By moving to digital delivery of textbooks Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson saw an opportunity to address several larger district challenges than simply replacing outdated texts. A majority of families are low-income; its schools were struggling to meet yearly academic progress measures; and the district had just come out from under a state-mandated “fiscal watch.”
And, recalls Brantley, Atkinson was sincerely concerned about the weight of the textbooks being hauled around by the kids in her schools.
That was the atmosphere under which initial discussions began, he says. The district quickly realized that adopting a 1:1 program with digital textooks at the heart of the initiative could reduce textbook expenses and help bring students into the 21st century. “We’re an inner city school district,” says Brantley. “We saw this as a way to level the playing field for our kids and deliver them equal access and opportunities with technology.”
After a pilot program in 2007 and 2008, the district went after a federal grant to partially fund a full rollout to 9th and 10th graders for the following year. In January 2009, the district used federal Title 1 and Ohio state educational technology grant funds to lease Dell Inspiron 910 netbooks. The following year that program was expanded to 6th, 7th, 8th, and 11th grades, and the district switched to Acer Aspire One AOD150-1577 netbooks. This fall the district hopes to add 12th graders to the program.
The publishers the district is working with on the program are the traditional ones: Pearson Prentice Hall; Holt McDougal; and McGraw-Hill/Glencoe. They have provided versions of the texts, Brantley says, that go beyond simply being a PDF of the book. “It’s interactive. For example, if you have someone like Martin Luther King or John F. Kennedy in a history book, you can click on a picture, and it will tell you information about [that person] or [you can] do a search from the book to get more information about that particular person.”
Brantley is quick with numbers. He says that for 2,600 math books—the number of texts needed for grades nine through 12—the cost was going to be about $182,000. That’s $70 per book. The e-book edition for that same math book was about $15,000. The savings on that one text alone covered a large part of the expense of that first rollout of digital textbooks. The savings don’t stop there. An English textbook was priced at $163,673.05 for 2,475 books—about $66 per book. The digital version of the same volume was a fourth of the cost—$36,554.45.
Explains Brantley, Superintendent Atkinson “was very persistent” that the district find a content supplier for the program, even if it wasn’t one of the three or four big textbook publishers. The publishers were willing to try the program in pilot mode. “A lot of trust was built on both sides to make this happen,” he says.
Now, says Brantley, students don’t have to travel to labs to gain access to computers. “Basically, there’s a lab in every classroom. Every kid is using that netbook as a textbook and as a computer.”
Brantley knows the technology is making an impact. “I think it’s pushed us a long way. It’s allowing the students to become a lot more creative in what they do and how they do it. It’s also leveled the playing field. A lot of these kids don’t have computers or internet access at home. Because the books are loaded on the hard drive, [Superintendent Atkinson] has given kids the ability to work on things they’d only have access to in a limited time within the classroom or in the lab.”
Although Brantley says student testing scores have gone up, he can’t confidently point to quantifiable results tied directly to the digital textbooks. “We brought different pieces of technology into the district in the same period, so we have to let the program run for a little while,” he explains.
The Campbell Union High School District, next door to San Jose in California’s Silicon Valley consists of six sites, five of which have been designated by the state as excellent. During the 2009-2010 school year, they performed a pilot program to experiment with the replacement of textbooks with e-readers. Director of Technology Charles Kanavel and his IT team of five distributed 270 Sony Reader Touch model PRS-600s into English classes across the district’s sites.
“These kids get technology. They go home and look at YouTube all day. An e-reader isn’t that hard for them,” Kanavel explains. The goal of the pilot was to get a “true sense of what’s it like for the everyday student to use one of these things in terms of wear and tear and what they wanted to see on the device.”
The effort was spurred by the Williams Settlement, Kanavel says. That California statute calls for California schools to have sufficient educational materials and conditions to meet curriculum standards. In order to meet standards of currency, textbooks need to be replaced every seven years—an expensive proposition in a district with 8,000 students. “It’s $180 for a biology textbook. That’s just one. With e-readers and how ubiquitous they’ve become,” Kanavel recalls asking, “Why do they need to carry 80 pounds worth of books around, when we have the technology to do this differently?”
But that initial test might never have come about if Kanavel hadn’t persisted in trying to woo Sony to participate in the proof of concept, a process that took seven months. The Campbell director focused on Sony because of its durability, price, and open platform. “Kindle, if you drop it, it’s game over,” he says. “With the Nook you have to buy everything from Barnes & Noble. The [Apple] iPad with 32 or 64 Gb, that’s $600 to $800. With one iPad, I can get four e-readers from Sony at around $200 each.”
But persuading the manufacturer to pay attention to education’s needs wasn’t an easy sell. Kanavel, who has a background in investment banking, studied the company’s financial reports and figured out how many e-readers had probably been sold through its nearby Silicon Valley area store, the largest Sony store in the United States.
When he approached the company about doing a test, it replied, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, interesting. But why do we care?” In response, he used this argument: “You sold 14,000 at the Valley Fair store in a three month period. Those are respectable numbers. But realistically, our district is 8,000 kids. You’d sell me 8,000 units. Then I’d have to buy a quarter of that every year forever. Once I start on it, I can’t get off.” He also pointed out that Campbell was only a medium-sized district. “Take San Jose Unified —55,000 students right next door. That would make your store numbers look like nothing. And there are 32 districts in Santa Clara County alone. Think of the entire country. Then they started caring.”
Once Sony was on board, the next hurdle was the textbook publishers trying to safeguard the pricing model, according to Kanavel. He estimates that a single school might have 300 copies of a particular book. On average the textbook will cost $120 on the low side and $180 on the high side. That’s a total outlay of $36,000 to $54,000 for a single textbook in a single school in the Campbell district.
For English classes, however, many of the books contained classic works of literature that are now in the public domain and available on various digital book websites. “Shakespeare is Shakespeare. The guy’s not writing a new version,” Kanavel says. He has been able to make a deal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for some digital textbooks in PDF format; but others—particularly novels —came from the Sony Reader Store; on Project Gutenberg (a good source for Shakespeare, he says); and via the OverDrive School download Library.
The challenge faced by textbook publishers, he points out, is that they have to change their business model. Kanavel wants to set up a site license with the publishers, but so far those negotiations are still on-going, and, besides, many still have to convert their textbooks into the epub format.
But the financials, as this former numbers guy points out, still work out nicely for the district. “For example, historically we have paid $9 a book for paperback copies of Macbeth and 70 to 80 percent of them come back unusable at the end of the year. Now with the e-reader, that replacement cost goes to zero.”
On average 15 out of every 100 books in the district need to be replaced because they’re damaged, lost, or stolen. Often, the same student loses multiple books when he or she loses a backpack. “If you’re a parent, you have to pay to replace all of those books. If your student loses a history book, biology book, math book, and English book, that’s about $600,” Kanavel says. “If they lose an e-reader or it breaks, you pay for the replacement cost of the e-reader —$200 -- then we just download the content.” This, he adds, “has long-term implications for budgeting and funding.”
So far, Kanavel says, the pilot has been successful with students. “They’ve taken good care of them. I’ve only had three break out of 270, which is pretty good.” He plans to add an additional 200 e-readers to the district for the next school year. “One thing I’ve been very focused on with this pilot is offsetting the cost of textbook replacement with this device and making it easier on the kids.” He believes the district is on the right track.
Teachers and students are discovering other advantages. The e-readers have built-in dictionaries. If a reader has a visual impairment, text can be upsized quickly. Users can annotate, draw, and take notes—something that’s forbidden with traditional textbooks. When the year is over, the kids will return the devices, and that added material can be wiped from the hard disk.
But e-readers still aren’t perfect, he adds. First, not every book is available in a digital format. He cites a high school classic, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, as an example. Many textbooks have already been put on CD, but those are designed to be used in a PC. Publishers haven’t made huge inroads into converting their materials into the standard epub format that works with the major e-readers. But Kanaval is hopeful those gaps will diminish with time.
With the expected expansion of the pilot, negotiations with Sony continue. “We’ve proven that the kids can take care of them. The technology does work,” Kanavel says. “The next thing is to get Sony to build something bigger—an eight and a half by 11 inch format. And there are a lot of features that we don’t use. We’ve given them feedback on those things. There may be ways to cut cost by eliminating feature sets that can help them balance the cost of manufacturing.”
So given the experiences of these two districts—and others—how does a standard textbook stack up against an e-book? If a publisher needs to repair the mistakes introduced in the text, as happened with math books issued in Sacramento County in spring 2010, it won’t have to arrange to destroy the outdated books and incur shipping costs for the new ones; it can correct the errors and electronically distribute new versions of the content. In the face of a quickly evolving business model, publishers will be forced to adjust their pricing schemes—no doubt, to the advantage of the districts. In the matter of weight— well, the Acer netbook comes in under three pounds, and the Sony device is a little over 10 ounces. Those are metrics anyone can use no matter how much digital content sits on the devices.
In order to have a successful 1:1 implementation, you need hardware, bandwidth, content, and teacher professional development and buy in. But each district will be unique in its approach to implementing each aspect and the entire program. The question of when in implementation a district allows connection to the internet is a case in point. Campbell Union High School District in Silicon Valley wants students to stay on task as it implements e-books. Therefore, the Sony Reader Touch devices being used there don’t include web access. Although Sony does make a model of its e-reader that includes WiFi, according to Director of Technology Charles Kanavel, the decision to leave that feature out helps simplify the transition teachers have to make in integrating the device in the classroom.
“If I’m a teacher and I have these new devices in class, it affects my lesson planning,” he explains. “Without administrative control of access to the internet, some smart kid will make the thing text another e-reader. Then once that kid knows, all the kids will know. In class, instead of reading, they’re texting each other, surfing MySpace, and doing everything else. Have I just disrupted an entire class with this device? So let’s get the adoption in first. Let’s get the hurdles out of the way surrounding usage of content, usage of technology, and how it integrates into your standards in the classroom. Once that’s outlined, then we’ll figure out how to do WiFi.”
That absence of web access has also streamlined professional development. The district had 270 devices, which it handed out in English classes spread fairly evenly across its six sites. To ensure that the pilot wouldn’t get put on the back-burner by teachers uninterested in using the ereader, Kanavel had the principals at those sites nominate teachers to participate who were a “little bit tech savvy.”
From there, his IT team called teachers in for a demonstration of the Sony product they’d be using with their students. “That was it,” he says. “Maybe 30 minutes of Q&A with teachers, and off we went. The devices aren’t that complicated. You turn it on, pick your book, turn to the page, and that’s it.”
To make sure the program is on track, Kanavel has been doing evaluation of it in “real time.” “It’s not something we threw out there and said we’ll come back to you in six months. Every couple of weeks I’m pinging these teachers. They have direct lines back to me. As they’ve noticed things, they’ve emailed me.” Along with that, device maker Sony has put out surveys for the users too.
What complicates implementation of digital content in a 1:1 program is when the device being deployed is used for other purposes too. That’s the case at Lorain City School District in Ohio, which has distributed Acer netbooks to 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students. The goal there is to deliver its students access to technology and the wider world it can deliver. Many don’t have computers or an internet connection at home. Therefore, Chief Information Systems Officer Gary Brantley has chosen to implement WiFi on the devices.
The devices, which cost about $300 with software and maintenance, are loaded with a gigabyte of RAM, a 150 Gb or 160 Gb hard drive, an Intel Atom processor, a webcam, Windows XP Professional, Microsoft Office, a couple of calculators, 802.11 b/g WiFi, and, of course, digital textbooks.
Teachers have an interest in educating students about social networking, so, although access to the internet is filtered, the devices do allow access to sites such as Twitter, and Facebook. But that, says Brantley, “is being carefully monitored.”
Also, connectivity is necessary for implementation of CompuTrace, a program from Absolute Software that provides a service for tracking down lost, stolen, or missing devices. “We were finding that we were spending a lot of money replacing textbooks,” Brantley explains. “Now, we actually are spending less. If CompuTrace doesn’t find the netbook within 60 or 90 days, they pay for it. I can tell you they have found every single one.”
To simplify operations, the district uses only two images for the netbooks. Every middle school book in use is on every middle school netbook; and the same with all high school books. That approach, says Brantley, makes IT’s work easier since they don’t have to worry about granular inventory or “fool around” with what books any given student should be able to access.
The district has tackled the challenge of teacher acceptance from multiple sides. First, there was a teachers’ union aspect. Would it promote the change in teaching approaches necessary for success? To gain support, Brantley took the head of the union to a 1:1 conference to show her what could be done. After that, he says, “She came on board for the professional development piece.”
The next aspect was putting together programs and teams for professional development. Since the district has an “early release” day once a week, “that’s the block of time that increasingly is being dedicated to helping teachers learn how to integrate the technology into their classes. Gaining traction in that area is a longer haul,” Brantley admits. “It takes a while to get teachers on board with this.”
Next up for the Lorain district: implementation of a teacher recognition program and some type of graduate credit to motivate the teachers to try out new methods of instruction.
An area where Brantley has seen success is having the kids teaching the teachers. “That’s one thing that we’ve been trying to push,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to let the kids show you something as well. It becomes a collaborative effort.”
Challenges have surfaced in two IT areas. First, the sheer number of new devices has put a strain on Brantley’s department, which has 10 employees. “We’ve doubled the number of computers in the district but didn’t add one staff member,” he says. Second, IT has to be able to supply technical support to students in a timely manner. “Turnaround can’t be longer than a day. Even though we have spares, we still have to turn around these machines really quickly, so kids aren’t left without their books.”
But these burdens aren’t slowing down the district’s dreams. Brantley says eventually the netbook and digital textbook program could be expanded to every student in the district, from the fourth grade up.
“If at first an idea is not absurd, there is no hope for it.” —Albert Einstein
In June 2018, a time when “Agile at Scale” is emblazoned on the front cover of Harvard Business Review, the management journal with quasi-papal status, the era when managers could confidently ridicule agile management practices is fading fast. Instead, most managers have themselves grasped the need to be agile: a exact Deloitte survey of more than 10,000 business leaders across 140 countries revealed that nearly all surveyed respondents (94%) report that “agility and collaboration” are critical to their organization’s success. Yet only 6% say that they are “highly agile today.” So, what’s the problem? Why the 88% gap between aspiration and actuality
It’s not lack of knowledge as to what is agile management or how to implement it. Managers have access to myriad books and articles on it and a plentiful supply of coaches who stand ready to help. The three Laws of Agile are simple—first, an obsession with continuously adding more value for customers; second, small teams working on small tasks in short iterative work cycles delivering value to customers; and third, coordinating work in a fluid, interactive network.
The Laws of Agile are simple but their implementation is often difficult. That’s in part because they are at odds with some of the basic assumptions and attitudes that have prevailed in managing large organizations for at least a century. For example, Agile makes more money by not focusing on making money. In Agile, control is enhanced by letting go of control. Agile leaders act more like gardeners than commanders. And that’s just the beginning.
For the traditional manager, counter-intuitive ideas like these abound. This is not the way people say big firms are run. This is not by and large what business schools teach. Encountering these principles can be like visiting a foreign country where everything is different. Until travelers grasp the new language, master the new cues and ingrain them in behavior until they are second nature, they may feel disoriented and incompetent.
That’s one reason why merely training staff on Agile processes and practices by itself won’t make a firm agile. Implementing Agile requires a mindset that is fundamentally different from the traditional preoccupations with profit maximization and a philosophy of controlism.
Trying to implement Agile management with these 20th century preoccupations leads to hiccups, friction, dissonance, misunderstandings, and disappointment.
Let’s look at ten of the Agile axioms that leave managers apprehensive, agitated, even aghast.
First Law Of Agile: The Law Of The Customer
1. Firms Make More Money By Not Focusing On Making Money
For several millennia, the notion that businesses exist to make money was seen as one of the immutable truths of the universe. Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, wrote in his article in the New York Times on September 13, 1970 that any business executives who pursued a goal other than making money for their firm were “unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.” Today, many public companies embrace maximizing shareholder value as their main goal, even though Jack Welch and many others have called it “the dumbest idea in the world.”
A growing number of companies have chosen a different goal. They have accepted Peter Drucker’s 1954 dictum that “there is only one valid purpose of a firm: to create a customer.” When delighting their customers through continuous innovation becomes the bottom line, making money is the result, not the goal, of the firm’s activities.
The interesting thing is that when firms operate this way, they make a lot more money than companies that focus directly on making money, including the five largest and fastest growing firms on the planet (by market cap): Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, now worth over $2 trillion. It involves a shift from a focus on inanimate things (money, products outputs) to a focus on people (human outcomes, experiences, impact)
Yet let’s face it: setting aside what many still see as immutable truths of the universe doesn’t come easily.
2. There Are No Internal Customers
It’s common in many big bureaucracies to talk of internal customers. One unit services another unit and regards the other unit as its internal customer, who in due course becomes a producer for the ultimate customer or end-user. The focus is internal and the silos often fight each other for influence and budget. Amid these internal squabbles, the needs of the internal customer risk becoming disconnected from the needs of the ultimate customer, and result in waste—producing something the ultimate customer doesn’t need or failing to produce what the customer does need.
In Agile management, there is no such thing as an “internal customer.” The only purpose of work is the ultimate customer or end-user. Under the Law of the Customer, the original producers not only meet the needs the internal customers: they are given a clear line of sight as to what value is being provided for the ultimate customer. Satisfying so-called internal customers is merely feeding the bureaucratic beast. It is a pretend-version of Agile.
3. There Are No B2B Organizations
The situation is the same when a firm is providing products or services to another firm which acts as an intermediary for ultimate end user. The customers are the end-users who ultimately experience the products and services. Merely satisfying the needs of the intermediary is not enough for sustainability. It’s only if the intermediary is delighting the ultimate end user that the firm safe. This is why those doing the work need to have a clear line of sight to the ultimate end-user and see the meaning in their work and adapt their work to the needs of that end-user.
Thus for many years, Cerner Corporation which provides services to hospitals, looked on hospitals as its customers. Over time, they increasingly saw that their services were really directed at the doctors in the hospitals. More recently, under the influence of Agile management, they are coming to see the patients as their customers. Cerner’s ultimate success depends on making things better for the patients.
Similarly, Microsoft for many years saw the customers of its Windows program as the big retailers like Dell and HP. More recently, they have come to realize that their customer is really the end-user, not these intermediaries: there is now an immense effort to reach out to, understand and interact with these millions of end-users.
4. Making Better Products May Not Make More Money
Making products better, faster cheaper, more convenient or more personalized is a good thing. But in a marketplace where competitors are often quick to match improvements to existing products and services and where power in the marketplace has decisively shifted to customers, it can be difficult for firms to monetize those improvements. Amid intense competition, customers with choices and access to reliable information are frequently able to demand that quality improvements be forthcoming at no cost, or even lower cost.
Making better products through operational Agility is an increasingly-necessary foundation for the survival of a firm. But it’s not enough for the firm to thrive. To make a lot of money, the company has to go further. It has to delight non-customers—those who are not already customers. That’s because there are usually vastly more non-customers than customers. They are non-customers for a reason: their needs are not being met. If the company can find a way to meet their needs, then a whole vast new ocean of potential customers opens up, in which there is usually very little competition. If the firm can appeal to both customers and non-customers, it can make a great deal of money. “Instead of being slightly better than everybody else in a crowded and established field, it’s often more valuable to create a new market and totally dominate it,” writes David Brooks in the New York Times. “The profit margins are much bigger, and the value to society is often bigger, too.”
The Second Law Of Agile: The Law Of The Small Teams
5. Forget Economies of Scale: Your Market Is One Person
The 20th century firm tended to be focused on generic products to achieve economies of scale. By contrast, Agile is about generating instant, intimate, frictionless, low-risk, incremental value at scale. That’s the new performance requirement. When firms do this, as shown by the experience of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google they make a great deal of money.
Thus Agile organizations focus on providing intimate value, with an effective “market of one”, i.e. a level of customization and customer service at which a customer feels that he or she is an exclusive or preferred customer of the firm. For example, search engines are used by billions of people every day across the globe. However, each user gets customized search results based on their locations and refer to places nearby, weather forecast, or traffic condition.
With the advent of latest technology like smartphones and high-speed internet, and with the ever-increasing use of social media, companies can learn more about their customers and can use this information to customize their services and products as per user’s preferences and needs.
6. Don’t Scale Up: Descale Complexity Down
A key Agile theme concerns descaling work, i.e. a presumption that in a volatile, complex, uncertain and ambiguous world, big difficult problems need to be disaggregated into small batches and performed by small cross-functional autonomous teams, working iteratively in short cycles in a state of flow, with fast feedback from customers and end-users.
Trying to scale up the organization to cope with complex problems and leads to unmanageable complexity. Big complex structures are inherently fragile and difficult to change. The adoption of “agile scaling frameworks” is common, but they are often a re-introduction of a philosophy of controlism in another guise.
Instead of constructing a big complex organization to handle complexity, the organization disaggregates the problem into tiny pieces so that it can be put together in minuscule increments and adjusted in the light of new, and rapidly changing, information about both the technology and the customer.
Think of a truck that is made in a traditional way. It is welded together and cannot be easily changed or upgraded. Compare that to a Scania modular truck where each of the parts is interchangeable. Modular design brings easier customization.
7. Agile Is A Mindset, Not A Process
Traditional managers typically approach Agile saying, "Show me the process so that I can implement it." The problem is that Agile is a mindset, not a process. If it is approached as a process with the old mindset, nothing good happens.
But surely, people ask, there must be some model that we can follow. There is much allure for instance in the Spotify model as presented in the charming videos prepared by Henrik Kniberg. So there is a cry: "Let’s implement the Spotify model!" There’s just one problem: as former Spotify coach, Joakim Sundén, often explains, not even Spotify implements the Spotify model. For one thing, the videos are several years old. Second, Spotify continues to rapidly evolve and Improve its model. In a pair of visits in 2016, we noticed significant differences even within a period of several months.
8. Talent Drives Strategy, Not Vice Versa
“The central premise of a talent-driven company is that talent drives strategy, as opposed to strategy being dictated to talent.,” says the book, Talent Wins: The New Playbook for Putting People First (HBRP, 2018) by Dominic Barton, the global managing partner of McKinsey & Company, and his colleagues Dennis Carey and Ram Charan, “The wrong talent inevitably produces the wrong strategy, and fails to deliver. Numbers like sales and earnings are the result of placing the right people in the right jobs where their talents flourish and they can create value that ultimately shows up in the numbers.”
The Third Law Of Agile: The Law Of The Network
9. Control Is Enhanced By Letting Go Of Control.
In Agile management, there’s a presumption that in a volatile, rapidly changing world, big difficult problems should—to the extent possible—be disaggregated into small batches and performed by small self-organizing teams. The thought of self-organizing teams tends to make managers worry about losing control. What they need to understand is that they are giving up the illusion of control, rather than genuine control. In a complex, rapidly changing environment, explicit efforts to impose control and predictability are doomed. Detailed reports may create the semblance of control, but the reality is often very different from what is in those reports.
The solution to reconciling disciplined execution and innovation lies in giving greater freedom to those people doing the work to exercise their talents and creativity, but doing so within short cycles so that those doing the work can themselves see whether they are making progress or not.
Success in today’s marketplace requires nimbleness, flexibility, adaptability and agility—everything that the 20th century corporation was not. These firms were built for strength, with high walls and moats for the defense of the status quo. Their very raison d’être was to prevent change.
Turning a top-down pyramid into a flexible network is tricky. At the heart of 20th Century management thinking is the notion of a corporation as an efficient steady-state machine aimed at exploiting its existing business model. “Traditional, MBA-style thinking,” as Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg write in their book, How Google Works, “dictates that you build up a sustainable competitive advantage over rivals and then close the fortress and defend it with boiling oil and flaming arrows.”
By contrast, when the whole organization truly embraces Agile, the organization is an organic living network of high-performance teams. In these organizations, managers recognize that competence resides throughout the organization and that innovation can come from anywhere. The whole organization, including the top, is obsessed with delivering more value to customers. Agile teams take initiative on their own and interact with other Agile teams to solve common problems. In effect, the whole organization shares a common mindset in which organization is viewed and operated as a network of high-performance teams.
10. Lead Like A Gardener, Not A Commander
In Team of Teams, by General Stanley McChrystal and his colleagues (2015, Penguin Publishing Group), McChrystal explains had to unlearn what it means to be a leader. A great deal of what he thought he knew about how the world worked and his role as a commander had to be discarded.
I began to view effective leadership in the new environment as more akin to gardening than chess,” he writes. “The move-by-move control that seemed natural to military operations proved less effective than nurturing the organization— its structure, processes, and culture— to enable the subordinate components to function with ‘smart autonomy.’ It wasn’t total autonomy, because the efforts of every part of the team were tightly linked to a common concept for the fight, but it allowed those forces to be enabled with a constant flow of ‘shared consciousness’ from across the force, and it freed them to execute actions in pursuit of the overall strategy as best they saw fit. Within our Task Force, as in a garden, the outcome was less dependent on the initial planting than on consistent maintenance. Watering, weeding, and protecting plants from rabbits and disease are essential for success. The gardener cannot actually ‘grow’ tomatoes, squash, or beans— she can only foster an environment in which the plants do so.”
And read also:
HBR Embraces Agile At Scale
Why Agile Is Eating The World
The Dumbest Idea In the World: Maximizing Shareholder Value
If you’re a fan of the Embedded podcast you know her voice well. If not, you need to check out the show! Of course we’re talking about [Elecia White], who spent her exact holiday answering our questions.
She’s an accomplished embedded systems engineer — she literally wrote the book on it. We’re delighted that [Elecia] agreed to lend us her skill and experience as a judge for The Hackaday Prize!
We find that embedded engineers come from all manner of backgrounds. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into the field?
I majored in a combination of applied computer science and theoretical systems engineering: my classes were all about programming, C, Fourier, and control loops. I had no idea I’d built a major that would be perfect for low level embedded development.
After school, I went to Hewlett-Packard. I was in the network server division, monitoring servers, writing drivers, and getting ever closer to the hardware. I moved over to HP Labs’ BioScience division to do real embedded work, though I didn’t understand that at the time (yay for a hiring manager who did!). Once I made a motor move, well, it was all over for me. I loved having my software touch the physical world. Happily, the environment was great and the electrical engineers were very patient.
Do whimsical embedded challenges ever come to mind? For instance, do you ever flip on the TV and think to yourself: “some day I’m going to reprogram the uC and write something that works!”?
Yes, absolutely. Though, I tend to have much larger ideas than I have time for.
For example, a while ago, I heard a Radio Lab episode about how different animals see colors differently. That led me to the many ways animals see differently. For example, did you know that guinea pigs see more slowly than we do? Where our retinas see about 8.75 Mbits/s, theirs only transfer about a tenth that. They have fast and slow cells that respond to different visual stimuli. But what would it be like to see through their eyes? Blocky? Slow? With edge detect on all the time? 
On the other hand, birds see much faster than we do: things that are just a blur to us are visible to them. Some animals see IR, some see UV. All of these other things could be demonstrated with a processor, a camera, maybe some sensors laid out in a grid pattern overlaying the view from the camera… (and some software (also copious free time)).
So, um, yes. One little thing can set me off and I get on a tangent. I’m a bit of a dev-kit hoarder so when I combine “what should I try on this dev kit” with “what have I been pondering”, I can get lost for days.
PS Don’t get me started on the gear in the exact spate of superhero movies.
We enjoyed the section of your book Making Embedded Systems which covers self-test and unit tests. Do you always build from the start with testing in mind or do you still get bit and have to go back after the fact to add testing routines?
Ideally, I write tests first because they act partially as requirements definition: what should this function do? Though, I tend to do it in short back and forth bursts, breaking down a problem into manageable pieces.
Professionally, it is almost always going back because I usually work on initial designs or on end-of-project-must-ship-now fixing, I seldom get to see a project start-to-finish. Though if I get ownership of a module, I try to do testing right.
Personally, I am often hacking things together and am not always a good, disciplined engineer with that. Projects that I’ve been poking at for a long time tend to have better tests because I keep rebuilding the hardware and software, needing to verify modules. But the projects that I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, well, sometimes it is fun to just hack something together knowing that it might not work tomorrow.
Do you have any advice for managing your professional schedule and still maintaining some type of personal life?
As an engineer, manager, and director, I constantly felt the pressure to work more hours. However, my brain gets tired; the work in hour 50 of a week would probably take ten minutes in hour 2 of the next week. Working long hours for weeks on end makes me extremely ineffective. But I’m not good at figuring out what people expect and there is always something else that needs to be done.
Contracting is good for me because I get paid for the hours I work and don’t feel (very) guilty about unfinished tasks. If I’m frustrated and want to take a break at 3pm, it doesn’t matter as long as I still get things done. That was probably always true but I felt a lot of pressure to be at my desk all the time. Now, I can set expectations for how many hours I allot to a client each week and what I expect to get done in that time, everyone seems happy.
I have a clearer division between personal life and work and a more realistic balance. Though, I write this on the morning of the 4th of July while waiting for cross compilers to build… maybe my advice is not, um, good. Next question?
The Hackaday Prize requires all entries to be Connected Devices. Are there any data transfer protocols that you love using with microcontrollers? What are they and why do they make your development process easier?
While the connected requirement is neat, there are so many ways to implement it so I hope no one gets stuck on it. This is one area where, unless you are building a new communication method, it is easier to buy a good solution than make one yourself.
I admit to some partiality to Electric Imp. They’ve got a lot of the cloud based system ready for you, making an LED that lights from URL takes about ten minutes, making a button that tweets takes less than another ten.
I guess my favorite data protocols are ones with standards, ones that I didn’t invent or don’t have to puzzle out. If it has a Wikipedia page, I like it.
Are there any communications protocols that make you cringe in horror?
Not even CAN.
Wait… Yes, I have a horror of hidden ones, those that you can’t get to the signals on the protoboard. Debugging without access is painful.
Do you approach writing Open Source code differently? Or in other words: are you cleaner with your code and comments if it’s more likely that others will see your code?
A little. I wanted to say no: I try to write clean code always, I always believe my code will be read. However, for open source, I see the audience as me minus ten years of experience. But for industry code, I see the audience as me plus one year of forgetfulness. Since the intended audience is different, my Open Source code tends to be more wordy in the comments.
Tell us about your non-engineering-related hobbies.
I read a lot, both fiction and nonfiction. You asked about whimsical ideas, I read Kraken, a great book about squid and octopus, which brought up the point of how to test such alien intelligences. That still tickles my brain.
I read the fascinating Thinking, Fast and Slow; I think if I wanted to build an AI that acted like people do, I’d implement the chapters of that book as library modules. It would be a fascinating project.
Science fiction is a great way to loosen up creative ideas: what did the author think would be a problem in a hundred (or thousand) years? Other forms of fiction are great for seeing how other people view problems. While I hide it reasonably well for whole minutes at a time, I’m kind of socially inept so when I read fiction, I also tend to see it as tools for helping me interact with people in different situations.
I also garden and watch more TV that I should admit.
What else is going on in your life?
There is our podcast, Embedded. That is fun and strange, focused on people building gadgets of all sorts. I’ve met so many interesting people and gotten such a great response. I started out wanting to know what podcasting was all about. One thing led to another and now, a year later, I find myself being a Hackaday judge.
How can entries curry your favor when it comes to judging? Is there any type of entry you would love to see?
Many engineers often have internalized this idea of once “I’ve done it, it is easy”. Sometimes it leads us to assume everyone knows what we are talking about (because, of course, it was easy so everyone else already knows about it).
We get into the trap of documenting for experts instead of average (or beginners). I don’t think the experts need the docs as much as someone new does.
My advice: document it for another discipline. If your background is hardware, imagine a software person is going to read it. I don’t need to be condescended to, but I do need patience. Tell me what tools you used, maybe link to your favorite intro to the tool (if you’ve got one). Tell me how you made it but also tell me how I can make it.
Also, tell me why you made it. I love enthusiasm.
The Hackaday Prize challenges you to build the future of connected devices. Build the best and claim a trip into space or one of hundreds of other prizes.
PALO ALTO, Calif., July 12, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) (“HP” or the “Company”) announced today the amendment and extension of (i) its previously announced private exchange offer to certain eligible holders (the “Exchange Offer”) for any and all outstanding notes (the “Poly Notes”) issued by Plantronics, Inc. (NYSE: POLY) (“Poly”) for up to $500,000,000 aggregate principal amount of new notes to be issued by the Company (the “HP Notes”) and cash, and (ii) the concurrent consent solicitation (the “Consent Solicitation” and, together with the Exchange Offer, the “Exchange Offer and Consent Solicitation”) to adopt certain proposed amendments to the indenture governing the Poly Notes (the “Poly Indenture” and such proposed amendments, the “Proposed Amendments”). HP has (i) extended the Early Participation Date and the Consent Revocation Deadline (each as defined herein) from 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on July 11, 2022 to 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on July 14, 2022 and the Expiration Date (as defined herein) from 11:59 p.m., New York City time, on July 25, 2022 to 11:59 p.m., New York City time, on July 28, 2022 and (ii) increased the consent payment payable to holders of the Poly Notes who validly deliver consents to the Proposed Amendments on or prior to the Early Participation Date (the “Consent Payment”), such that the aggregate Consent Payment will be $8,000,000, to be shared by all such consenting holders. Specifically, the Consent Payment will be an amount, per $1,000 principal amount of Poly Notes for which holders have validly delivered (and not validly withdrawn) consents prior to the Early Participation Date, equal to the product of $16.00 multiplied by a fraction, the numerator of which is the aggregate principal amount of Poly Notes outstanding as of the Early Participation Date and the denominator of which is the aggregate principal amount of Poly Notes for which holders have validly delivered (and not validly withdrawn) consents prior to the Early Participation Date. As a result, the Consent Payment for the Poly Notes will range from $16.00 per $1,000 (if all holders consent) to approximately $32.00 per $1,000 (if holders of a simple majority of the aggregate principal amount of the Poly Notes consent). HP will not make any further amendments to the aggregate Consent Payment.
Holders of the Poly Notes are referred to the exchange memorandum and consent solicitation statement dated June 27, 2022 (as amended hereby, and which may be further amended or supplemented from time to time, the “Offering Memorandum and Consent Solicitation Statement”) for the detailed terms and conditions of the Consent Solicitation, all of which remain unchanged except as set forth in this release. As previously announced, the Exchange Offer and Consent Solicitation is being conducted in connection with, and is conditioned upon, the completion of HP’s acquisition of Poly (the “Acquisition”). The Proposed Amendments require the consent of the holders of not less than a majority in principal amount of the Poly Notes outstanding (the “Requisite Consent”). If the Requisite Consent is not obtained by the Early Participation Date, HP will terminate the Exchange Offer and Consent Solicitation.
The Exchange Offer will expire at 11:59 p.m., New York City time, on July 28, 2022, unless extended or terminated by HP (such date and time, as may be extended, the “Expiration Date”). Eligible holders of Poly Notes who validly tender and not have validly withdrawn their Poly Notes at or prior to 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on July 14, 2022, unless extended or terminated (such date and time, as the same may be further extended, the “Early Participation Date”), will be eligible to receive the Early Participation Premium (as defined herein). A consent may not be revoked after the earlier of (i) 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on July 14, 2022, unless extended or terminated, and (ii) the date the supplemental indenture to the Poly Indenture implementing the Proposed Amendments is executed (the earlier of (i) and (ii), the “Consent Revocation Deadline”). The Consent Solicitation will expire at the Early Participation Date. The settlement date (the “Settlement Date”) for the Exchange Offer will be promptly after the Expiration Date and is expected to occur no earlier than the closing of the Acquisition, which is expected to be completed by the end of the calendar year 2022, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. For each $1,000 principal amount of Poly Notes validly tendered and not validly withdrawn at or prior to the Early Participation Date, eligible holders of Poly Notes will be eligible to receive the total consideration set out in the Offering Memorandum and Consent Solicitation Statement as modified by this release (the “Total Consideration”), which will include the Consent Payment and an early participation premium, payable in principal amount of HP Notes, of $30 (the “Early Participation Premium”). To be eligible to receive the Total Consideration, eligible holders must have validly tendered and not withdrawn their Poly Notes at or prior to the Early Participation Date and beneficially own such Poly Notes at the Expiration Date. If an eligible holder has already validly tendered and not withdrawn its Poly Notes pursuant to the previously announced Exchange Offer and Consent Solicitation, such holder is not required to take any further action with respect to such Poly Notes in order to receive the Consent Payment. For the avoidance of doubt, unless the Exchange Offer is amended, in no event will any holder of Poly Notes receive more than $1,000 aggregate principal amount of HP Notes for each $1,000 aggregate principal amount of Poly Notes accepted for exchange.
For each $1,000 principal amount of Poly Notes validly tendered and not validly withdrawn after the Early Participation Date and prior to the Expiration Date, eligible holders of Poly Notes will be eligible to receive $970 principal amount of HP Notes (the “Exchange Consideration”). To be eligible to receive the Exchange Consideration, eligible holders must validly tender (and not validly withdraw) their Poly Notes at or prior to the Expiration Date. If an eligible holder validly tenders and has not withdrawn their Poly Notes at or prior to the Early Participation Date and beneficially owns such Poly Notes at the Expiration Date, the eligible holder will instead receive the Total Consideration. An eligible holder that validly tenders Poly Notes and delivers (and does not validly revoke) a consent prior to the Early Participation Date, but withdraws such Poly Notes after the Early Participation Date but prior to the Expiration Date, will receive the Consent Payment, even if such eligible holder is no longer the beneficial owner of such Poly Notes on the Expiration Date.
Documents relating to the Exchange Offer and Consent Solicitation will only be distributed to eligible holders of Poly Notes who complete and return an eligibility certificate confirming that they are either a “qualified institutional buyer” under Rule 144A or not a “U.S. person” and outside the United States under Regulation S for purposes of applicable securities laws, and a non U.S. qualified offeree (as defined in the Offering Memorandum and Consent Solicitation Statement). The complete terms and conditions of the Exchange Offer and Consent Solicitation are described in the Offering Memorandum and Consent Solicitation Statement, copies of which may be obtained by contacting D.F. King & Co., Inc., the exchange agent and information agent in connection with the Exchange Offer and Consent Solicitation, at (888) 605-1956 (toll-free) or (212) 269-5550 (banks and brokers), or by email at email@example.com. The eligibility certificate is available electronically at: www.dfking.com/hp and is also available by contacting D.F. King & Co., Inc.
This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or purchase, or a solicitation of an offer to sell or purchase, or the solicitation of tenders or consents with respect to, any security. No offer, solicitation, purchase or sale will be made in any jurisdiction in which such an offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful. The Exchange Offer and Consent Solicitation is being made solely pursuant to the Offering Memorandum and Consent Solicitation Statement and only to such persons and in such jurisdictions as are permitted under applicable law.
The HP Notes offered in the Exchange Offer have not been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or any state securities laws. Therefore, the HP Notes may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and any applicable state securities laws.
About HP Inc.
HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) is a technology company that believes one thoughtful idea has the power to change the world. Its product and service portfolio of personal systems, printers, and 3D printing solutions helps bring these ideas to life. Visit http://www.hp.com.
This document contains forward-looking statements based on current expectations and assumptions that involve risks and uncertainties. If the risks or uncertainties ever materialize or the assumptions prove incorrect, the results of HP and its consolidated subsidiaries may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements and assumptions.
All statements other than statements of historical fact are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, any statements regarding the consummation of the Acquisition; the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the actions by governments, businesses and individuals in response to the situation; margins, expenses, effective tax rates, net earnings, cash flows, benefit plan funding, deferred taxes, share repurchases, foreign currency exchange rates or other financial items; any projections of the amount, timing or impact of cost savings or restructuring and other charges, planned structural cost reductions and productivity initiatives; any statements of the plans, strategies and objectives of management for future operations, including, but not limited to, our business model and transformation, our sustainability goals, our go-to-market strategy, the execution of restructuring plans and any resulting cost savings, net revenue or profitability improvements or other financial impacts; any statements concerning the expected development, demand, performance, market share or competitive performance relating to products or services; any statements concerning potential supply constraints, component shortages, manufacturing disruptions or logistics challenges; any statements regarding current or future macroeconomic trends or events and the impact of those trends and events on HP and its financial performance; any statements regarding pending investigations, claims, disputes or other litigation matters; any statements of expectation or belief, including with respect to the timing and expected benefits of acquisitions and other business combination and investment transactions; and any statements of assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. Forward-looking statements can also generally be identified by words such as “future,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “predicts,” “projects,” “will,” “would,” “could,” “can,” “may,” and similar terms.
Risks, uncertainties and assumptions include factors relating to the consummation of the Acquisition and HP’s ability to meet expectations regarding the accounting and tax treatments of the Acquisition; the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the actions by governments, businesses and individuals in response to the situation, the effects of which may deliver rise to or amplify the risks associated with many of these factors listed here; the need to manage (and reliance on) third-party suppliers, including with respect to component shortages, and the need to manage HP’s global, multi-tier distribution network, limit potential misuse of pricing programs by HP’s channel partners, adapt to new or changing marketplaces and effectively deliver HP’s services; HP’s ability to execute on its strategic plan, including the previously announced initiatives, business model changes and transformation; execution of planned structural cost reductions and productivity initiatives; HP’s ability to complete any contemplated share repurchases, other capital return programs or other strategic transactions; the competitive pressures faced by HP’s businesses; risks associated with executing HP’s strategy and business model changes and transformation; successfully innovating, developing and executing HP’s go-to-market strategy, including online, omnichannel and contractual sales, in an evolving distribution, reseller and customer landscape; the development and transition of new products and services and the enhancement of existing products and services to meet evolving customer needs and respond to emerging technological trends; successfully competing and maintaining the value proposition of HP’s products, including supplies; challenges to HP’s ability to accurately forecast inventories, demand and pricing, which may be due to HP’s multi-tiered channel, sales of HP’s products to unauthorized resellers or unauthorized resale of HP’s products or our uneven sales cycle; integration and other risks associated with business combination and investment transactions; the results of the restructuring plans, including estimates and assumptions related to the cost (including any possible disruption of HP’s business) and the anticipated benefits of the restructuring plans; the protection of HP’s intellectual property assets, including intellectual property licensed from third parties; the hiring and retention of key employees; the impact of macroeconomic and geopolitical trends, changes and events, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its regional and global ramifications and the effects of inflation; risks associated with HP’s international operations; the execution and performance of contracts by HP and its suppliers, customers, clients and partners, including logistical challenges with respect to such execution and performance; changes in estimates and assumptions HP makes in connection with the preparation of its financial statements; disruptions in operations from system security risks, data protection breaches, cyberattacks, extreme weather conditions or other effects of climate change, medical epidemics or pandemics such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and other natural or manmade disasters or catastrophic events; the impact of changes to federal, state, local and foreign laws and regulations, including environmental regulations and tax laws; potential impacts, liabilities and costs from pending or potential investigations, claims and disputes; and other risks that are described (i) in “Risk Factors” in the Offering Memorandum and Consent Solicitation Statement and (ii) in our filings with the SEC, including but not limited to the risks described under the caption “Risk Factors” contained in Item 1A of Part I of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2021, as well as in Item 1A of Part II of our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended January 31, 2022 and the fiscal quarter ended April 30, 2022. HP does not assume any obligation or intend to update these forward-looking statements.
Ever since smartphones ate the world whole, tapping and touching screens has become an expectation in new gear you buy. But tap the screen on any given laptop in your local electronics superstore, and it's a roll of the dice whether you'll get a response, or just an oily fingerprint.
Touch screens are a staple of modern computing, but not every laptop has one. It's a feature that you need to shop for specifically. With some categories of laptop, it's uncertain whether the machine will support touch. With others, their very nature is a virtual guarantee that they will—or won't. The key is knowing the difference.
At PCMag, we test hundreds of computers a year, many with touch screens, many without. Based on our in-labs testing and deep-dive reviews, we've compiled a group of the best touch-equipped machines that have passed through our hands. Below, let's run through the basics of laptop touch screens and why you might (or might not) want one.
First of all, some terminology. In most cases, a touch-screen-equipped laptop has a conductive digitizing layer, overlaid on the panel element, that allows for tap, pinch, or swipe input. Most modern laptops make use of what's known as capacitive touch input, in which the over-screen layer detects where you've touched with one or more fingers using the conductivity of your skin. This layer is typically a grid of ultra-fine wires, or a film; it needs to be subtle or translucent enough to not interfere with viewability.
That electrical aspect explains why touch screens don't work if you're wearing gloves. This is in contrast to the resistive touch technology you might see in other implementations of touch screens, in which the upper layer covering the screen flexes. When you write or tap on a resistive screen, that upper layer closes a circuit with another layer beneath it. (Having to press a little to, say, sign your name on a screen is an earmark of resistive touch.)
Back to capacitive, though. The capacitive touch layer maps your finger or pen input to coordinates on the screen that determine the position of your touch. Also detected are parameters such as tap speed, whether you've tapped versus swiped, or if you've executed a multi-finger touch gesture. Note that tap pressure sensitivity is not a parameter that is typically detected through simple finger touch, though certain touch implementations and stylus pens might transmit that. More on those later.
A few panels use an infrared X/Y axis-mapping technology, in which sensors in the bezel cross-reference an interruption of their beams at a specific intersecting screen location, but the employment of this tech in laptops is rare. It's usually seen only in cases where the panel is very large, or uses a display technology that is not available in a variant that can accept capacitive touch (or is cost-prohibitive).
Note that the screens in a given laptop family may come with options for touch and non-touch versions. This is the case with some mainstream and business-oriented clamshell laptops, especially ones in model lines that sell in lots of subtly different retail configurations, or that have many tweakable configuration options when sold direct. When looking at one of these machines, be very much cognizant whether or not the particular screen or screen option you are looking at supports touch.
For example, a laptop might offer a choice of a 1080p (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) touch screen or a 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) display without touch support. Or there might be both touch and non-touch options available at 1080p. Attention to detail matters here.
Depending on the specific kind of laptop you're looking at, the tendency toward touch support will vary. Let's dig into the major types.
BUDGET CLAMSHELLS. Most low-cost machines that are straight-up laptops (that is, models that do not have 2-in-1-type hinges or tablet modes) will not have touch screens, but you'll run across the occasional exception. In under-$500 machines, a touch screen should be seen as a pleasant surprise, not a given. Exception: 2-in-1s, more about which in a moment. (For more, see our picks for the best budget laptops.)
MAINSTREAM AND BUSINESS CLAMSHELLS. You'll see the most varied mix of touch and non-touch models here. This is the category most likely to be frought with touch versus non-touch models in the same system family. Take for example, the 1,920-by-1,200 non-touch panel versus the 3,840-by-2,400 touch panel in the latest Dell XPS 13. (For more, see our picks for the best business laptops.)
2-IN-1 CONVERTIBLES AND DETACHABLES. By their very nature, all 2-in-1 machines will have touch screens. When you're using a 360-degree-rotating 2-in-1 in tent or tablet mode, you don't have access to the keyboard, so touch input is essential in those modes. Likewise in a detachable 2-in-1: Remove the keyboard, and all you're left with for input is your tapping fingers or a stylus, Indeed, a key differentiator here is whether the 2-in-1 additionally supports stylus input, and if so, whether the stylus is included or costs extra. A high-profile example of the latter: the Microsoft Surface devices, which mandate $99 for their complementing Surface Pen stylus. (For more, see our picks for the best convertible laptops.)
GAMING LAPTOPS. Most gaming laptops have 15- or 17-inch screens, and very few offer touch input. PC gamers don't have much use for touch input (PC games aren't written to support it), and implementing a touch screen would reduce what is an often already-challenged battery. (For more, see our picks for the best gaming laptops.)
GIANT-SCREEN MACHINES. It's rare to see a laptop of any stripe with a 17-inch display that supports touch input. Touch-panel implementations at that size are pricey and simply not cost-effective. They're also not very practical: As we said, many touch-screen laptops are 2-in-1s, and a 17-inch tablet would be pretty unwieldy. The 2022 Dell XPS 17 is the rare exact 17-inch touch model. (See our favorite 17-inch laptops.)
CHROMEBOOKS. Touch screens did not feature in early Chromebook models, but we're seeing them in more and more new ones. With the emergence of 2-in-1 convertible Chromebooks (most are 360-degree-rotating designs, though a few feature detachable displays), touch is becoming more common in this class, especially as support for Android apps has become the norm on these machines. (For more, see our picks for the best Chromebooks.)
APPLE MACBOOKS. Sorry! No current Mac desktop or MacBook laptop supports touch screen input, unless you count the thin Touch Bar touch strip forward of the keyboard on some MacBook Pro models. (The Touch Bar is merely a contextual-shortcut strip that adapts to the program at hand.) The macOS operating system isn't optimized for touch. In the Apple-sphere, full touch displays remain the province of the company's iPhones and iPads.
You might think it's a given that having a touch screen is a good thing, if you can get one. But you'll want to consider a few factors before going all in.
CONSIDER BATTERY DRAIN. All else being equal, a touch screen will reduce your battery life versus an identical non-touch screen in the same system. That's because the system has to keep a trickle of power fed to the digitizing layer, which will be always on, waiting for your fingertip or stylus tip to tap. That said, we emphasize "all else being equal": The battery factor is seldom an apples-to-apples comparison, because touch screens in a given laptop line that also offers non-touch options also tend to be higher-end, higher-resolution, or higher-brightness screens that, by their nature, consume more power to start with—the touch aspect regardless.
WILL YOU ACTUALLY USE IT? Think about how you actually work or play, day to day, before insisting on a touch panel. If your main PC activity is mincing through fine-celled spreadsheets, jabbing a touch screen with a finger might not afford the precision or utility you need for operations. If you spend most of your time tapping from YouTube vid to YouTube vid, on the other hand, touch can be a delight.
Also consider the ergonomic aspects. To use a touch panel much, you'll be reaching from keyboard to screen, which can clash with your workflow on a clamshell machine. So make sure that kind of reaching jibes with your day-to-day usage. Alternately, if you'll often be tapping at music- and movie-playback controls on the screen or poking frenetically at YouTube thumbnails, consider a 2-in-1 that you can prop up in A-frame or tent mode, in which tapping the screen makes more sense and requires less reaching.
ARE YOU GOOD WITH GLOSSY? Most touch screens have a glossy facing that extends across both the screen and its bezels (the borders surrounding the screen). Matte-finish touch screens are uncommon. The seamless bezel coverage allows for side-in swipes and prevents interruption of your tap and swipe activity near the screen's periphery. That's fine if you like glossy screens, and they can enhance the perceived vividness of the panel. But know that screens of this kind are more prone to smudging, and they tend to be afflicted by glare outdoors or under harsh indoor lighting more than matte panels are. Keep a lens cleaning cloth handy.
THICKNESS AND WEIGHT. Implementing a touch layer on the screen's face means a bit of additional material and circuitry. It's minimal, but know that a touch versus a non-touch laptop will levy a slight penalty on both fronts—again, all things being equal.
Separate from simple tap, swipe, and pinch actions on the screen, pen support requires a touch-capable screen. If sketching or handwritten note-taking are part of how you work, you'll want to investigate the pen options available in a given touch-screen laptop.
Usually, it's just the 2-in-1s that will offer them. Stylus types range from a simple passive stick, which is essentially a more precise surrogate for your fingertip, to an active pen, which has a built-in battery and will have click buttons on the pen and possibly support for pressure sensitivity.
Top of the line are true digital pens, which are active—meaning, they are powered by their own internal battery. Pens of this kind will include click buttons, pressure-sensitivity detection, angle detection, and possibly a digital "eraser" on the top. A prime example of the latter is Microsoft's Surface Pen we mentioned earlier, which works with its line of detachable laptops.
If you go this route, also investigate the pen storage scheme. A laptop or convertible stylus is easy to lose in your bag or leave behind if it doesn't have a niche to tuck into. Some laptop and 2-in-1 makers employ a magnetic "clip" that sticks the pen onto the side of the unit (the Surfaces are known for that), or in a few cases, provide a plastic bracket that may insert into a USB port.
Windows Ink, which was introduced in a 2016 update to Windows 10, can also be a compelling reason to investigate the stylus capabilities of a given touch-enabled laptop. With the introduction of Ink came support for Sticky Notes, Sketchpad, and Screen Sketch within the OS. With Sticky Notes, you can scrawl on virtual Post-It notes and have Cortana interpret relevant information from your scribbles, such as email addresses and phone numbers, and make them actionable. Sketchpad lets you do freeform drawing with basic tools, while Screen Sketch lets you annotate onscreen images freehand, great for UI designers, developers, or others who work with graphical elements that need feedback. Other pen-enabled apps appear in the Windows Ink Workspace, a pen-centric panel that you can pop up with an icon in your taskbar.
That's where our reviews come in. Our rankings above and below line up our current-favorite clamshells, detachables, rotating 2-in-1s, and Chromebooks that support touch. Note that if you find one you like and decide to order from an e-tailer, we strongly recommend that you double-check that the specific model you're looking at (especially if it's a configurable clamshell) actually does include the touch-screen option.
In the case of a few models in our ranking, the specific model may support a touch-screen option, but we may have reviewed a non-touch version and our online pricing links may point to that. Bear that in mind if you click through to an e-tailer.