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from Dell by Michael Dell
account of the rise of his corporation is quite remarkable - it does
always seem that the simplest ideas are always the ones that succeed
- and the ones that are always challenged by critics. In hindsight,
selling PC's direct to consumers via the Internet is quite literally
a no-brainer. But back when Dell started his shop, it was unthinkable.
It cannot be a coincidence that the rise of Dell parallels the rise
of the Internet. Below are the best of Michael's nuggets, and their
potential application at my current employer (no names please!
reading this, I asked some folks I know who have both worked internally
at Dell, and with Dell as a customer or supplier - my question was...
"Have you read this book? If so - is it really like that?"
The answer is a resounding "YES" which blows me away. My technology
company experience did not follow any of the following precepts.
like Wayne Gretsky - don't skate to where the puck is, skate to
where it is going.
is obvious that the future of e-commerce and online giving is huge
- we currently do less than 1/2 of 1% of our total online revenue
via online channels. To both maximize revenues and minimize costs,
we can aggressively grow this to over 10% in the next 2 to 3 years
by converting existing users in our offline dB to online, opening
up new donor demographics and by maximizing online event registration
question, even the good stuff.
not enough to to look at top line growth in revenues - we should
be fanatical about bottom line numbers, and manage our growth on
margins in order to maximize and ensure the success of our mission.
all employees as owners, even if they aren't.
a for-profit to non-profit crossover, this is an easy one to imagine
happening - yet I see an amazing amount of lethargy, duplication
of efforts and inefficiencies that individuals are responsible for.
Reframing their responsibility may be one way to help them understand
that they each contribute (or detract) from the bottom line. As
in for-profit companies, it's not just about a raise or a end of
year bonus. Treating employees as owners encourages pride, workmanship,
personal investment but requires open communications to the lowest
level of the organization.
be satisfied by knowing only your industry.
concern ourselves with knowing what other charities are up to, but
we rarely look to other industries for leadership and execution
examples - a common question we ask internally is "what is
cancer doing?" While not everything in other industries is
100% applicable, I'm convinced that we're missing out on a lot of
innovative thinking by looking only at our own industry.
high tech and high touch.
online should be able to log on to our site, view their entire history
of giving and involvement with us and update their contact information
in real-time. We'll get there one day!
it simple with your suppliers - complications will confuse everything
at every level.
on demand, single source procurement, centralized buying contracts
at the national and chapter levels are things for-profits did years
ago... we're still struggling to even comprehend what that means
evidenced by the complex set of partners, suppliers and vendor relationships
we have across the entire organization. Just last month I had to
do an end run to buy 250 plastic ducks because our purchasing department
could only manage to make things harder, not easier for me. Imagine
how a chapter feels.
the hunted, not the hunted - always strive to grow the business
and NEVER allow complacency.
is obviously not the case as we are in many ways complacent and
wait for other charities to stick their neck out before us. We're
missing big opportunities (granted, we're not making too many mistakes
either) in being a leader especially in driving the online donor
relationship to it's obvious, and eventual conclusion :)
In addition to the
notes above, there were several interesting cultural and organizational
topics including Dell's take on recycling of computers. As Dell installs
hundreds of thousands of PC's, Dell knows that eventually, someone will
have to recycle them. A new chassis design that is not only fully recyclable
but also easier to build and takes less time to manufacture was created.
Dell uses no adhesives or paints and took the lead in the industry with
this approach. That same chassis now lowers life cycle costs and cost
of ownership. Screws, nuts and bolts can be replaced with clips and
trays, making it easier for both Dell and their customers to access
internal components. The time savings translates into increased productivity
and lower costs. Incredible leadership.
The last piece that
really blew me away was the idea of segmenting and spinning up new businesses
to both address company growth rates and employee engagement. In order
for Dell to manage their astounding growth rates, they devised a strategy
that would allow them to essentially operate as a small business, no
matter how large they get. They constantly create and re-create business
units by segmenting down to more granular units. They take their best
people, put them in charge and allow them to continue to grow these
segments at rates only small companies can achieve. It's brilliant.
It must be an amazing place to work. Being a "star" in that
organization would afford entrepreneur's a chance to constantly reinvent
themselves and their businesses. If you like that sort of thing.