Policymaking in an Internet Age
by Carly Fiorina
Chairman and CEO, Hewlett-Packard
at The Progress &
2001 Aspen Summit
August 19, 2001
you, Jay, and good evening, everyone. It is great to be here in this
place, where clear thinking so often emerges from collectives of great
I wanted to give us something to collectively
Last year, I
shared HPs view of an emerging digital Renaissance. I talked about
using the technology thats at our disposal to empower individual
entrepreneurs, consumers, and inventors. I shared a view of fueling
and connecting the everyday acts of many--and in the
process, making the benefits of technology accessible to all.
last year, and I still believe today, that we are entering a second
and extraordinarily powerful
renaissance. A renaissance that even has
the capacity and promise to eclipse the achievements of the Italian
renaissance. One that has the capability not only to drive sustained
economic prosperitybut social progress here in the United States, and
beyond our shores as well.
Let me continue
last years conversation where we left off
start tonights discussion by posing a question:
What brought the first renaissance to an end?
light of the global economic slowdown, I ask this question because I think
the answer has much to teach us.
Of course, many
factors caused the cessation of the renaissance
some based on the failure of leadership. But if I were to
distill it to the deepest root cause, it was
events that forced the close of the Renaissance era were caused by fear:
Fear of the openness created by the birth of humanistic values. Fear of
and peoples found beyond known
borders. Fear of the huge ethical questions raised by the times. Leaders
were unable to manage the conflicting forces. And it was ultimately Fear
that sent mankind into retreat, back to parochial thinking.
As a collective, mankind decided that rather than go forwardit would
settle for standing still, or going backward.
we all know, this kind of Fear results from the inability to choose
the inability to reconcile competing world views.
draw on this parallel, this fact of human nature
some 500 years hence
because we are at an equally critical crossroad in time.
not just because the euphoria of the first wave of Internet has been
because the dot-com economy has lost its footing
because the economic flu thats making its way around the world greatly
clouds our ability to predict
let alone capitalize on
draw on this parallel, this fact of human nature, because, on so many of
issues, we now have a decision to make:
settle for standing still (or worse, retreating)
to go forward
Today, from where
I stand, I must admit that the indications suggest perhaps that we are
at the imbalances between the developed world and the developing
there is evidence that global business and global markets can increase
overall wealth in developing countries around the world
the voice heard in Seattle
declares global companies have not delivered
on the mandate. We have not created a sustainable model of economics
that will lift billions on the planet out of poverty. As CEO of a
company that does business in 163 countries, I am a firm advocate of
the responsibility global companies have
and my post has also
given me a unique view on where I believe traditional models have
is clear: If we fail to develop a sustainable model of development
that fully acknowledges the talents and ideas and ambitions of the
four billion people on the planet who have no access to Net
technology, we will have failed. Thats because
in this global
economy, were moving from just the trade of goods, or
components, or material goods
to an economy that is based
on the trade of good thinking, talent, ideas, and know-how. You
see this in China
you see it in India
you see it in parts of
the developing world. If we do not get the balance rightthe
balance between what is local and what is global, between what is
economic benefit and what is societal benefit, between what is
held sacred and what is invented anewif we do not get the
balance right, we do not gain access to the thinking, talent,
ideas, and know-how of all the worlds people.
This countrythe patron nation of the digital Renaissancestill
has a hard time educating its students to compete on a world stage.
This country still has a hard time teaching its children to find Peru
on a world map. This country, the protector of global democracy, still
has a hard time imparting the identities and duties of its government
officials below the level of President. This country
the most ambitious, and greatest commitment to education for all
yet to deliver the quality of education that it aspires to.
at the state of business in the harsh light of the economy
The great icons of American business are under extraordinary pressure.
Theres anti-globalization pressure. New competitors. Even the most
modern practices seem antiquated in a world that demands an agility,
an adaptability, a capacity to reinvent organizations
to take advantage of fundamental shifts in the
market. The call for fundamental rethinking and reinvention of our
organizations has never been louder. And despite all this, the
the industry that serves as the agent of change
for all other industries
is mired in what some are characterizing as
at the telecom industry specifically
telecom industry finds itself in worse shape today than it was before
the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
And while there is reason to be concerned about the tenuous ground
beneath some of major telecom giants, the bigger concern is about the
far deeper ripple-effect they have on the overall health of the
economy. As is the focus on much of this summit, we are at a critical
juncture with the key issues that will affect the health of this
industry, and all our industries, going forward.
At this very
moment in time, like humankind 500 years ago, we can either choose to move
forwardor settle for retreating backward.
other evening, I attended an event in celebration of the 20th
anniversary of the IBM PC. And as part of that event, as is usually the
case with such gatherings, there was a squadron of journalists. One young
journalist asked me the question: "Who is your most
influential business author?
And I looked down
at his pad of paper
across the responses that he had scribbled down
from the other CEOs he had already talked with that night
and as you
might expect, I saw Tom Peters
and Peter Drucker, Gary Hamel
Michael Porters name down there.
And then I said,
Hegel. To which the reporter shot me a quizzical look. (Evidently
Hegel has fallen of the New York
Times business-book list.)
I expounded, Hegel
you know, the
I use it every day.
scribbled down Hegel and moved on.
dialectic is about one point of view
pitted against its countervailing
opposite. And from that contradiction and conflict arises a true synthesis
that unifies these different views into a cohesive, and often unexpected,
holistic thinking. It demands a clear definition of the problemand then
a vision of the desired end-state. And it requires finding connections
between polar opposites.
And in the
networked age, in the digital era, power and value lies in the connections
its exactly the process of thesis, antithesis and synthesis
search for new and different connections
where exponential power and
value can be found.
Lets test this
theory a bit.
polarizing debate is about vouchers versus
public schools. Its about teaching to the test versus teaching that nourishes hearts and souls. Its about
squeezing history and music and philosophy out of the curricula in order
to make room for math and science and reading in the quest for test scores
and future funding.
Let me tackle just one dimension of the debate: The private versus public
school debate--free access for all versus
a free-market voucher-driven system. The thesis on the table is: Keep the
system the way it is a vast system of public schools, some with strong
performance, but many that are able to achieve only the lowest common
denominator. The antithesis: Let competition reign, give all students
vouchers, and let the strongest schools prosperand the weakest ones
If we could invoke Hegel, hed help us find a synthesis: Perhaps a view
that decisively bolsters the public schools system we have, but at the
same time fosters more innovation and leadership through charter public
schools. And to further fuel innovation, he might suggest a voucher
program for the areas
or student populations most in
need. In this case, the synthesis we hope, would be far more than just a
compromiseit allows us to build on the best of what we have, but
instills new responsibility and accountability to the system as well.
It is in the same way that we might find synthesis of the debate between
the thesis that says the primary purpose of education is to teach the
fundamentals: reading, writing, job skills, technological literacy. And
the antithesis: Schools are about providing food for the soulthe
literature, arts, music, language education that emphasizes seeing
connections and gaining perspective. The fact is: We must have leaders who
are both technically skilled and holistic in their approach, fiercely analytical and
humanistic, smart business people and
passionate advocates of corporate citizenship. Our challenge as
policymakers is to dispel the myth of either/orand find an
elegant way to get to and.
same goes, of course, in our own companies as well. In rapidly changing times, the debate is all around holding
onto what is old versus
embracing what is new. In the not-so-recent past, it was about
dot-com up-starts versus
the old guard, the old economy.
In reinventing the 60-year icon called HP, were learning a lot about
the importance of holistic thinking. The thesis being: HP needs to
reinvent itself in a bold way to play in an Internet Age. The antithesis
being: HP, the gray lady of Silicon Valley should remain an immovable icon
like the Statue of Liberty. It becomes the job of leaders within HP
just the folks with VP in their title, but everyone who believes
they are an advocate of HP
to find an intelligent synthesisthe way to
preserve the best, and reinvent the rest. The way to change the
strategy, process, metrics and rewards, and most of all, the culture
a way thats more than just a combination of old and new. A way to
derive greater value from the whole versus the sum of the parts. It sounds
straightforward, but the challenges are tremendous
inter-connected: They span the largest decisions (what businesses we
should be in, how we manage our supply chain, how were fundamentally
organized, how the critical economics of the business work)
down to the
smallest decisions and symbols.
the case of globalization, perhaps Hegel also has something to teach us
the issue is framed as if its about globalization versus
greater good. Its about big business versus
local people. One thesis on the table: The developing world must
be held accountable to pay its debts. The anti-thesis on the table:
full debt relief
is the only hope these countries
have. But the synthesis tells us there may be another path: Any
amount a country is willing to invest in education
or any of the other engines of progress
should be counted as credit against their debts.
And its how Hegel would also have us looked at the debate about
profits versus social
value. The thesis is: Global business is the only means for lifting
the developing world out of poverty. The antithesis:
As heard in the voices in Genoa
and Prague: Put
a stop to globalization as we know it. The synthesis, the one we hope
that were embracing at HP, is to cut a different path to value. We do
not embrace the view that global companies are inherently flawednor the
countervailing argument, that the pursuit of profits justifies the means.
In actions spurred by our world e-inclusion strategy, as just one example,
were building sustainable solutions for developing
countriessolutions that draw on local cultures, local talent, local
resources, local ambitions to build solutions
solutions that have a
social cause AND are driven by a profit engine. Its not fundamentally
about giving people PCs
or obsessing on the technology
our efforts are
focused first on people
and solving a very local
its a bit over-the-top
at a dinner like this one
to bring such
heady topics to the table. And to bring such heavy topics to the debate
about technology that youll be having at this summit.
But I think the
debate you will have here
contentious debate you will have is best framed by these kinds of topics.
Because, in a
true Hegelian sense, we have gathered in this place to in fact get rid of
Ors and find more Ands
were here to find a policy for
broadband, and technology, and telecom that is a true synthesis
compromise, or a cop out
but an enlightened view.
undeniably one thread of continuity that will be woven through education
as the access to learning
in the reinvention of business, as the
enabler of new commerce
on the global stage as the platform over which
information flows, and knowledge can be shared
It is by no means the
only technology force for solving these issues
but it is an essential
And so lets
talk about the responsibility each of us bear in coming to this summit
specifically to address the choices we now face in broadband:
is still not getting to consumers.
Only 9 percent of Americans who
use the net at home have access via broadband. And that is hardly
enough to fulfill the promise of the digital Renaissance weve been
talking about. As policy makers, how can we ensure that broadband becomes
a far-reaching enabler? How can we ensure that we achieve not only
universal accessbut that we achieve it quickly? After all, a recent
quoted in the Financial Times
estimates that a rapid completion of the broadband build outpeaking in
2007 would add $400 billion a year to the U.S. economys growth. But
a slower build-out, peaking just four years later, will amount to more
than $500 billion in lost
invention, lost sales, and lost job creation. Thats $500 billion that is simply not
injected into the economy. Time is clearly of the essence
policy takes an adversarial stance:
An either/or approach
The debate is dominated by a
thesis and antithesis, without any attempt to reach a synthesis. We are
forced to choose between competition and rollout
between regional Baby
Bells and AT&T
Our views echo back to 70, or even 90 years ago,
from oil trusts and railroad companies. The design point of policy
value to optimize
the proxies of value placed in the model of the end
are all designed to prohibit the creation of monopolies and to
protect the consumer. But in a digital economy, that approach is creating
territorial fiefdoms that fundamentally fail to capitalize on the
borderless nature of the Internet. In the process, consumers and their
interests are not being served. Can policymaking create an industry that
is far more effective
and simultaneously far less regulated
railroads and telephone companies have been in the past?
behavior regarding broadband has been narrow, at best
to preserve territorial concessions and fiefs based on copper wire, while
customers are not being served. We know that the issues in getting
carriage across the last mile are significantbut I also know that
a failure to see partnership among competing businesses as an alternative
will, at current course and speed, ultimately eliminate the possibility of
robust long-term gain for all. Can our policy-making be built on the twin
pillars of lively competition AND rapid rollout?
governments role, in my view, is not to be an adversary to
businessbut a partner.
think we have a good model to look to: The build out of the first phase of
the Internet. The Net was born at DARPA as an R&D effort in the
then migrated to the halls of academia
and finally made
it into the commercial world. What a great example of government
involvement in just the right measure, at exactly the right time. In a
bold experiment to govern a totally new medium, government evolved its
role as regulatorand, instead, adopted its role as advisor and partner.
And, for at least a period of time, resisted the need to set limiting
or controls on content.
Can our policymaking for broadband take a similar approach?
I am advocating a collaborative, hands-on role between the technology
industry, the telecommunications industry, the administration, Congress,
and the FCC. Can government streamline and rationalize state and local
licensing and franchising procedures for communications services? Can
government focus on the appropriation of spectrum and release the
underutilized band in a way that will spur further innovation? Can we deal
with the tougher issues that will protect consumers rather than
focusing so much energy on preventing monopolies?
So, can we instead focus on issues of privacy and security, both of which
are more meaningful to consumers? Not to mention that if we do not resolve them
if we do not build consumer confidence in
the trustworthiness of our systems
all of our discussion about
the deployment of broadband becomes a moot point? (At HP, we truly believe
this is a lynchpin of the whole works. We know this from our consumer
business. We know this from our enterprise business which helps other
companies deal with the tough issues. We know this as the operator of a
shopping site thats one of the most successful in our industry. Which
is why were already on the forefront of policy issues around device
technology, information standards, encryption, and so forth. We have
chosen to often live by a higher standardnot abide just by a minimum
standardin the way we treat our employees and our customers precious
information and data. I could go on and on here about the leadership we
are trying to bring to this issue, but youll have a chance later in the
summit to hear from one of my colleagues at HP on this topic.)
I would conjecture that businesses in my industry have not done as much as
we are capable.
need to provide more leadership in identifyingand
expeditingsolutions for broadband deployment. Today, I propose that my
industry take a larger role through an IT coalition. Our objective is to
create an effective coalition of IT companies to promote solutions that
are good for business, good for customers, and good for the rapid rollout
of broadband technology over all.
this largeyet by no means comprehensive--list of challenges, what
approach can we take to get to a much more enlightened synthesis? How can
we get to a viable solution?
believe we must answer three fundamental questions about the future of
broadband and the role of the telecom industry:
is the true desired end point what is worthy of our ambitions and
is the full value to be created? Not just economic value
social value as well. What is the total equation...the full framework
by which we must measure our efforts and make tradeoffs?
how do we make the solution sustainable?
think weve made some headway on the first question. What is at stake
what is worth fighting for here
is broadband as a solution
for some much larger problems
reinvention of our
global competitiveness (and our ability to unleash the
talents of four billion more people on the planet)
rekindling of the
engines of growth in this country. Those are the things that form the end
stateits not fundamentally about the bit and bytes of technology,
but rather, what technology will be able to do for people.
think weve touched on some of the foundations of thought for the second
question: We have talked about ensuring that the model of success is based
on the full value
not just economic value to companies
usefulness to consumers. Not just dollars on the bottom line, but social
value imbued in the system. I dont profess that weve found the full
equation by which we should measure our success
but I think there is
enough here to start a conversation.
for the third question, that is the hardest work of this summit
do we have as our models?
We have the model
of government temporarily suspending its regulatory role, on content and
taxation, for example
and becoming a partner and advisor in building the Internet.
the creation of the Internet in the first place, we have the model of
competing companies and organizations also partnering, to marshal the huge
resources and skills necessary to roll out the best solution.
Today we look
through our screens into a broadband future that could disperse health,
wealth, and knowledge on significant scale
to literally every
corner of this world. We have the technological means to do it. We have a
population that, once they are educated about its promise and its
likelihood, will demand it. And we have an opportunity to do our best to
include everybody in this global economy
not just those who are lucky
enough to live in mature markets.
we let old habits and old laws
keep that screen half-dark?
you take one thing away from my remarks this evening I hope its this:
By finding a thesis
examining its antithesis
we are able to get to
synthesis. In a networked world
in an interconnected economy
world where technology and people and organizations intersect at odd
holistic thinking is I believe, the ultimate path to enlightened
like to close this evening by bringing us back full circle
and to a quote from a great Renaissance thinkerLeonardo
impedimento è distrutto dal rigore.
obstacle yields to stern resolve.
the face of huge challenges
on this issue of broadband, so much is at stake. Remember what
suspended the first renaissance: Fear of the openness created by the birth
of renaissance thinking. Fear of the huge ethical and moral questions
raised by the times. Leaders were unable to connect the various and
conflicting forces of the times. And it was ultimately Fear that
confounded mankind into a state of inaction
back to parochialism.
looking fear in the eye, we have two choices:
settle for retreat.
to use todays the obstacles to motivate our stern resolveand go
know you will make the right choice.
you very much.