The ChangingMinds Blog!
Blog Archive > 09-Jul-07
Joe Podolsky, an old and dear friend, died at the weekend. I met him only a few times but
we conversed over many years. He
was someone I loved and admired and who had a significant influence on my life.
We met when we both worked in Hewlett Packard were a part of a vibrant
community of people there who thought that improving the business was both
critical and very interesting. We went to world-wide conferences, exchanged
ideas and spread new thinking as far as we could. Changing minds was the order
of the day and few did it better than Joe.
Back in the early 1990s the
internet was in its infancy but Joe was in there, thinking and sharing in the
generous way he lived. Joe's Jottings
became a company symbol for sharing. Here's the very first one. As ever, it
challenged conventional thinking and contained perhaps uncomfortable truths.
Date: 29 November 1994
As you all know, I read a lot of stuff. I was
telling someone about one of the articles I had seen, and he very kindly
suggested that others also might be interested. So, I'll occasionally
share with you a short note about something I think is unusual or
important. I'll also tell you where I saw the article, so you can dig into
it more if you want.
Please let me know if you want me to continue this. Feel free to share
this with anyone you want.
Here's the abstract of the article that got this started:
Three professors collected data from 176 MIS projects at 60 different
organizations (No, I don't know if HP is represented). They looked at the
size, risk, and organizational commitment for the projects based on how
they were selected. Here's what they found:
Projects selected by top management do NOT tend to be more strategic,
profitable, resource consuming, larger risk, or related to organizational
well-being than other project selection groups. These projects, however,
did tend to experience the longest start delay and elapsed development
Projects selected by steering committees tended to be larger and
riskier, and require more organizational change. Formal cost-benefit
analysis is more predominant, but surprisingly, projects selected are NOT
more cross-functional in scope.
User department-selected projects, comparatively, are smaller, more
quickly developed, and involve the fewest users, layers of management, and
MIS-selected projects have more of an integration focus and follow more
logical sequences of development. Their projects experience fewer delays
in deliberation and duration, and less concern is given to cost benefit
from McKeen, Guimaraes, and Wetherbe, "A Comparative Analysis of MIS
Selection Mechanisms," ACM DATA BASE, August 1994, pp19 - 39.
This idea of just openly sharing reading and thinking was typical of the HP Way,
which Joe embodied so well. He set an example that I have tried to emulate ever
since and this website is a direct result.
When I think of Joe now I feel warm and happy. He had a good life and made a
difference, which is perhaps the best you can say of anyone.
I will remember Joe as an agile-minded and generous man. As Chaucer
wrote when he described the Clerk on the pilgrimage to Canterbury: "Gladly wolde
he lerne and gladly teche."
-- Bruce Karney (HP 1981-2005)
I will always remember Joe with fondness. He was one of the people who
interviewed me when I applied to join HP's Corporate Quality group in Palo Alto.
After I got the job in Corporate Quality in early 1988, Joe provided me needed
orientation, valuable advice, human warmth, and intelligent humor. As did many
others, I enjoyed reading "Joe's Jottings" and occasionally participated in his
book discussion group. My sincerest condolences go to his wife Hudi, their
daughters, and the extended family.
-- Doug Daetz
I just got back from a lovely ceremony at Beth Am in
Palo Alto, a beautiful synagogue on about 10 acres of land in the Los Altos
foothills. Probably 800 to 1000 people there. Learned lots more about Joe, a
very loved man.
-- Mike Ward
Hi, just dropped by to
1. say thanks for your site. I really adore it, I rarely learned so much in so
little time in such interesting topics.
2. Rant about HP. A friend of mine literally adores HP, not the brand of course,
but the entire engineering mentality. He'd like to live in HP "golden era". Not
surprisingly he is an excellent electronic engineer, just 35 years old, but
nonetheless among the few ones who still has that special quid about knowledge,
understanding, an approach that is fascinatingly happy yet still rational to
reality ..that makes him a special person to me, notwithstanding his serious
social personal shortcomings.
I am saddened by your loss and even more saddened to see that we are still ruled
by a status-quo that prefers stagnation to rapid development, ruling by
deceptive confusion, just because they are NOT able to keep the pace and
therefore are afraid to lose control. It appears to me that Joe, by sharing that
insight, wanted to point out such shortcoming.
Which is a behavior absolutely not appreciated by many.
In your site I see the same desire to share, to learn, to communicate with
likely minded people. It mainly shames, while at the same time inspiring me,
that I have not been able, so far, to achieve such sharing results. I hope I'll
will be able in the future.
Signed and sincerely,
Mario, just a guy from Italy.
Thanks, Mario. Joe was an inspiration to many. He in turn was inspired by
Bill and Dave (Hewlett and Packard) and probably others. You don't have to be an
engineer to look past the money. The greatest legacy is the number of people you
inspire. I've written of other inspirations, such as in 'Friends and fathers'
and do what I can. I'm still just a guy, too, and struggle each day to get
Hi Everyone. I don't know if you're still tracking this blog thread or if
you'll get this, but I wanted to thank you.
As some of you know, I'm Joe's youngest daughter, Joni. I was Googling my
dad's name to see if I could find any of his old jottings. I'm planning to start
my own blog, Joni's Jottings--a bit of a salute to my dad--and wanted to
reference his jottings as my first blog entry.
What a lovely surprise to find this blog in his memory, and to find that
someone compiled all his jottings on a website!
He was so incredibly prolific, and I am not, but it will still be fun for me
I don't know who started this blog, or who took the time to make his jottings
into a website, but I thank you so much for keeping his spirit alive in this
All the best, Joni
Joe's Jottings is an inspiration to me, and Joe and I had several lively,
enjoyable email discussions.
Joe continues to make a difference.
Best regards, Gary Tracy