Some thoughts on Michael Dell’s return to head his company:
Dell used to be a great company. Michael Dell may have waited way too long to get back in the cat bird seat. But he’s a smart guy and he says he feels the same kind of energy and excitement he felt in the beginning. He’ll need it. Dell customers are pissed.
Having run more than one company, albiet never on the scale of Dell, I know that in order to grow your company, you end up giving up what you do best. In my case, that’s being creative and having time to think.
Bean counters and lawyers get involved in your company. You end up managing people and never having time to sit and do nothing but think. You’re running all the time, and you get less and less hands on. That’s why, after running a very successful PR firm for 15 years, I changed course and went out on my own again in 1999.
In Michael Dell’s case, what he did best was not just strategic thinking, but also putting the customer first. In the early days of Dell, people you talked to when you ordered (I’ve had five Dells) your computer were excited about putting together a great computer for you.
Everything was about the customer. And Michael Dell might show up at a trade show, or even be accessible on the phone.
But then the bean counters took over and we all know the result: customers in Dell Hell
I’m writing on a Mac right now, and it is highly, highly unlikely that Dell or any other computer that forces me to deal with Microsoft’s ridiculous operating systems will ever see my money again.
I hope Michael Dell can lead his company back from the brink. It would be a great American success story, and a wonderful example for other companies that have gotten too far from their customer.