Early in 1957, Bill Hewlett and David Packard's company was at a crossroads. It had doubled its head count in a year and was about to go public. But as HP burgeoned, its founders feared it would lose what Packard, in his memoirs, called "a small-company atmosphere." The two men believed that they could maintain the company's knack for innovation by nurturing an esprit de corps among employees, particularly key managers. So with 20 deputies in tow, they decamped from their offices in Palo Alto to the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa in Boyes Hot Springs, Calif., a plush resort in the heart of wine country. At the conference -- one of the earliest off-site corporate retreats on record -- the employees debated what kind of culture HP should foster. By the end of the meeting, they had drafted "values" and "objectives" that they thought the company should embrace. That list became the basis for the "HP Way," the vaunted corporate culture for which Hewlett-Packard is highly regarded to this day.

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