HP 3D Printing (B)
In the 2010?s, one of HP?s divisions located Barcelona, Spain, decided to enter into the 3D printing business under an OEM contract. The division was in charge of the mature large format printing business and its sustainability could be at risk if no new adjacent business was developed. Initially, HP managers thought 3D printing could leverage customers and its go-to-market strategy with the core large format printing business. So within a few years, HP entered into an incipient market of 3D printing for parts prototyping through a licensed technology model. However, given the doubtful results achieved of that investment, as well as the technological limitations of the OEM technology for addressing the serial production market, HP Palo Alto decided to abandon the 3D printing business and thus officially shut down the full program. Despite the corporate mandate to shut down the 3D printing business, a new general manager of the HP Barcelona division put together a small secret team of technologists (skunkworks) with the aim of developing its own disruptive 3D printing technology to crack the production market competing in productivity and quality. Dealing with limited resources, no visibility inside the company and huge risks, the team was able to achieve tangible evidence to generate a real breakthrough innovation in additive manufacturing. In August 2013, the general manager found the right time to disclose the strategic discovery in front of the HP executive leadership and only two months later, the CEO made a surprising announcement to the international press that HP would present its first 3D printing technology by mid-2014. The case outlines the entrepreneurship innovation process of a disruptive technology inside HP followed by bottom-up and top-down management models. From the divisional general manager perspective, the innovation opportunity was clear: define a sustainable future for the site. He built a mission-oriented organization to achieve a strategic discovery that ended up being a strategic bet for HP Inc. Moreover, the case aims to show how an entrepreneurial innovation mindset and culture drives technological breakthroughs into the market. Finally, the case presents the challenges of developing a new technology and product in record time, following the commitment made by the CEO in her announcement.