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 / Fall 2004 / Issue 36(originally published by Booz & Company)


How Dell Got Soul

Focus: Dell’s Core Values Statement

The Soul of Dell
When Dell was founded in 1984, our business model was grounded in the fundamental belief that having a direct relationship with customers was essential to understanding their expectations and, ultimately, being able to deliver the best customer experience.

Since its beginnings, our company has been guided by the value of building direct relationships as well as other operating values that have led us to become one of the world’s most admired companies.

The Soul of Dell is our statement of corporate philosophy. It provides a common statement of our basic values and beliefs and serves as a guide for our company in the many cultures we call home. Our values and beliefs communicate the kind of company we are and aspire to be. This document is intended to assure that our actions — worldwide — are consistent and supportive of our values and beliefs.

At Dell we value and are committed to Customers, The Dell Team, Direct Relationships, Global Citizenship and Winning.

We believe in creating loyal customers by providing a superior experience at a great value.

We are committed to:

  • One to one, direct relationships.
  • Providing the best products and services featuring the highest quality and most relevant technology.
  • Creating and leveraging industry standards.
  • Out-performing the competition by consistently providing value and a superior customer experience.

The Dell Team
We believe our continued success lies in teamwork and the opportunity each team member has to learn, develop and grow.

We are committed to:

  1. Being a meritocracy.
    • We value accountability and reward those teams and team members who continually improve their capability and contribution.
  2. Developing, retaining and attracting the best people, reflective of our worldwide marketplace.
    • Hire and promote based on performance, capability and qualifications as key criteria. Look first to promote from within Dell.
    • Providing training and learning opportunities to maximize team and individual performances.
    • Investing in our People Leadership capabilities as a competitive advantage.
    • Managing our talent as a key asset.
    • Utilizing job assignments across and within regions to build global leadership capability.
    • Promoting an environment that values individual differences, engages people in decision-making and encourages employees at all levels and across all parts of the company to work as a team.
    • Maintaining base pay and benefit programs competitive with successful companies relevant to our marketplace.

Direct Relationships
We believe in being direct in all we do.

We are committed to:

  • Behaving ethically in every interaction and in every aspect of how we conduct business.
  • Responding to customer needs in a timely and reasonable manner.
  • Fostering open, two-way communications with customers, partners, suppliers and each other.
  • Building and maintaining effective relationships with our partners and suppliers to ensure availability and reliability of our products and services.
  • Organizing, communicating and operating through non-hierarchical and non-bureaucratic structures.

Global Citizenship
We believe in participating responsibly in the global marketplace.

We are committed to:

  • Understanding and respecting all nations’ laws, values and cultures.
  • Profitably growing our business in all markets.
  • Promoting a healthy business climate globally.
  • Contributing positively in every community that we call home, both personally and organizationally.

We have a passion for winning in everything we do.

We are committed to:

  • Building a culture of operational excellence.
  • Delivering superior customer experience.
  • Leading in the global markets we serve.
  • Being known as a great company and a great place to work.
  • Providing superior shareholder return over time.

Source: Dell Inc.

“The Soul of Dell” is made up of five elements: customer loyalty, teamwork, direct communication and relationships, global citizenship, and winning.

Clearly, simply creating a values statement and hanging it on walls is not enough. It not only needs to be visible; it needs to be a management tool. The Johnson & Johnson “Credo” has been cited for decades for helping its company leaders and employees at all levels make the right decisions, in good and bad times. The inspiration of Johnson & Johnson’s founder, Robert Wood Johnson, the Credo is part of the “genetic code” that informs the company’s structure, its information flows, its incentive systems, and the distribution of decision rights. Other well-known examples of highly credible and actively used values statements include those of the U.S.-based global utility company the AES Corporation and the “values vision” of apparel maker Levi Strauss & Company.

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  1. Gary Neilson, Bruce A. Pasternack, and Decio Mendes, “The Four Bases of Organizational DNA,” s+b, Winter 2003; Click here. 
  2. Terrence E. Deal and Allan A. Kennedy, Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life (Perseus, 1984)
  3. Terrence E. Deal and Allan A. Kennedy, The New Corporate Cultures: Revitalizing the Workplace after Downsizing, Mergers, and Reengineering (Perseus, 1999)
  4. Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation (Alfred A. Knopf, 2000)
  5. John P. Kotter and James L. Heskett, Corporate Culture and Performance (Free Press, 1992)
  6. Brook Manville and Josiah Ober, A Company of Citizens: What the World’s First Democracy Teaches Leaders about Creating Great Organizations (Harvard Business School Press, 2003)
  7. Edgar H. Schein, Organizational Culture and Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 1985)
  8. William E. Schneider, The Reengineering Alternative: A Plan for Making Your Current Culture Work (McGraw-Hill, 1994)
  9. Lynn Sharp Paine, Value Shift: Why Companies Must Merge Social and Financial Imperatives to Achieve Superior Performance (McGraw-Hill, 2003)
  10. AES’s values statement: Click here. 
  11. Johnson & Johnson’s values statement: Click here. 
  12. John Kotter: Click here. 
  13. Levi Strauss & Company’s values statement: Click here. 
  14. Edgar H. Schein: Click here.
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