EE204: Business Management for
Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists

Innovation Ecosystem


  1. Match Your Innovation Strategy to Your Innovation Ecosystem (HBS course materials)
  2. Breakeven Analysis
  3. HP: The Flight of the Kittyhawk (A) (HBS course materials)

Case Summary

Hewlett-Packard decided that, to grow more rapidly, it needed to design a revolutionary disk drive product that would create an entirely new market or application for magnetic recording technology. The company followed most of the "rules" good managers follow in such situations: heavyweight project team, lots of senior management support, etc. But it still failed.

Discussion Questions

  1. Was HP trying to create a new disk drive or a new market? What was the driving force behind the formation of the Kittyhawk team?
  2. How would you describe HP's culture and its relation to the culture of the Kittyhawk team? How did HP's culture influence the project approval process?
  3. What are the potential markets for the Kittyhawk, and what are the innovation ecosystems surrounding each one? What are the risks?
  4. Compare the "project parameters" on p.5, the "key objectives", on p.6, and the Kittyhawk team's actions.
  5. What is the breakeven volume HP must sell to recover its costs by year three? Use data from p.5 ("project parameters")? Is this BEV reasonable?
  6. Why has the Kittyhawk not met its targets? What recommendation would you make to Spanner at the upcoming monthly review meeting at the end of the case?
  7. How have design processes changed since the time of the Kittyhawk project? How might the project have unfolded with a more modern design thinking approach? What would have changed, and what might have stayed the same?