In an interview with Chairman Micahel Dell and CEO Kevin Rollins, HBR captured some interesting ideas corporate culture, innovation and developing leaders.
"For every dollar we put into R&D, we get about six dollars back in profit...But Sony invests $1 Billion and gets back only $200 Million in profits. Sony is overinventing. They invest in things that might be exciting but that aren't valued by customers. So they can't generate good returns." ~ Dell
"The true test of a company's innovation is whether the customer is willing to pay for it" ~ Rollins
"Most companies like to talk about investing for the future. We say the future is today and tonight. Good execution requires a sense of urgency. The notion of investing for the future can become a trap" ~ Rollins
On leadership development:
"Our own executives teach, and we use our own material and facilities. Rather than bringing employees to a central location, as GE does, we travel to them. Either Michael or I meet with the top 10% of Dell managers around the world every quarter and give them a short training dose. We also have an intense ten day leadership training program, which our people tell us is the best session they've ever attended.
It's been a huge retention tool among our high potential employees. We were surprised at how well they responded to the time and attention from us and other senior executives." ~ Rollins
"Kevin and I each spend three full days teaching. We review individual development plans, compensation and career paths for all these people. We now consider them the corporate talent and they're 'owned' by the office of the CEO, not by their immediate supervisors" ~ Dell
"We knew we couldn't get to $60 Billion in revenue without changing the culture. But it's not like you just flip the swithc and it's done. First, we implemented [the] Tell Dell [survey] to measure how good a job we were doing of managing people. The survey is voluntary, and 92% of our employees participate. Based on what we learned from Tell Dell, Kevin created the Winning Culture initiative, which has become a top operating priority at Dell." ~ Dell
"We asked, 'what's the social contract we offer at Dell?' That led us to define the Soul of Dell: Focus on the customer, be open and direct in communications, be a good global citizen, have fun in winning. These were all elements of our traditional culture that had just never been articulated" ~ Rollins
HBR March 2005 "Execution without Excuses", by Thomas Stewart and Louise O'Brien. (purchase)