ANN LIVERMORE ' 80
17 problem areas that had to get fixed -
no excuses or delays.
Life in the War Room
Livermore is the model of an over-
booked executive whose day is scheduled
to the minute. She rises as early as 5 a.m. to
talk to her unit in Europe and may go to
bed after midnight if Asia requires her
attention. Somehow she also finds time for
her family, husband Tom and teenage
On top of that, the War Room
demanded 25 percent of her time for a year
- in hindsight, a worthwhile commitment
for a career-rehabilitating and possibly com-
pany-saving operational offensive.
"We started off thinking that we needed
a competitive attack program," she said,
"and then stepped back and said,'Well, part
of this is fighting the competition and part
of this is improving our own processes and
"So the idea of a war room was born.
You'd have this room where wall to wall
you had ... charts, you had progress
reports, you had data surrounding you. So
there's nowhere to hide from the truth.
You're surrounded by the truth.
"It's a very public, visible, surrounding
way to see everything that needs to be
done and which teams are making progress
and which ones aren't.
"And the ones that weren't making
progress got a lot of phone calls."
At its peak, the War Room, which ran
for more than a year, demanded the fuJJ-
time attention of seven HP senior execu-
tives, including Stallard, and engaged more
than 100 other employees. Teanl members
from around the world met in person and
by conference call all day every Tuesday.
Livermore would get updates every Friday.
The problems in the War Room had
been affiicting HP for some time. For
example, said Burrows, if a big customer
wants to do a deal, how quickly can HP
"In the old HP, it was taking months, or
at least weeks," Burrows says.
Livermore lists a wide range ofissues,
from the way HP set prices and discounts,
to the efficiency of the manufacturing sup-
ply chain, to the roles and responsibilities of
A particularly hard nut to crack, she
says, was a compensation system for the
sales force that encouraged growth and
market share at the expense ofprofits.
"I think HP still has tremendous room
for improvement in our selling activities
and marketing activities.
"At our core, HP was born as an engi-
neering company. We even originally called
everyone an engineer. Every title at HP
had 'engineer' in it.
"I joined the company as a marketing
Any talk ofsales reform provokes a
complicated mix of reactions at HP, whose
legendary engineering prowess is nearly
matched by its legendary marketing weak-
ness. Livermore, who canle from a market-
ing background, considers the War Room
just the beginning.
But what a beginning. Mter a year, Liv-
ermore says, the teanl had "completely
reworked the way we ran a $17 billion
[storage and servers] business."
Burrows gives Livermore full credit for
creating the initiative and stoking much-
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