The case showed that HP valued technical innovation as a key to the business’ success. From the beginning, HP had employed a management by objective (MBO) process that motivated its people to focus on the potential paths of innovation and strategy to achieve its goals. Hence, when the idea for the Kittyhawk project came up, Spenner received the support of Hackborn , and Rey Smelek , the same people who promoted Spenner to General Manager of the Disk Memory Division (DMD) and supported Spenner’s “concept-driven thinking. The project also received executive support from the top ranks of HP despite the hesitation of some of the R&D section managers in view of the unclear market of the proposed new product. HP seems to have done everything right. They had set up an autonomous project team, and gave the project heavy senior management support. It was then easy for Spenner to create the team for the development of the project. The Kittyhawk team was not governed by the division’s traditional development processes and was given autonomy to develop the drive, find new markets and cultivate its customer base.
Seymour and White, both with reputations for “quick-thinking and action,” led the R;D and marketing divisions, respectively. The Kittyhawk managers carefully selected their staff of exceptional employees from within HP, composed of risk-takers that would be more excited by the market potential of a 1. 3-inch drive than by its technological capabilities. HP has never been a pioneer in the disk-drive business, and Kittyhawk was considered a pioneering effort by the company. HP concentrated its efforts on the most productive stages of the NPD process. The core team for the development of the 1. -inch drive came from within the company. The whole process of development was done within the company but the project team outsourced the manufacture of the drive to an external supplier with proven expertise in miniaturized manufacturing — Japan’s Citizen Watch Corporation — which designed and built an automated production line for Kittyhawk. Initial market research was undertaken by Seymour and White but to give Spenner reassurance, the team contracted a highly reputable research firm that specialized in high tech markets to independently gauge the magnitude of Kittyhawk’s opportunity.
However, as no clear market was evident yet, the research firm ended up deriving their conclusions from the Kittyhawk team. As a result, the results of the independent study only mirrored the thoughts of the team. This may have contributed to the error in the target market of the Kittyhawk. HP provided adequate resources and focused R;D funding to the project team which were critical to the success of its NPD process. Eventually, the Kittyhawk project failed to meet its goals but HP still acknowledged its value.