Listen carefully|Story no. 20/101

You may never know from where the next game changing idea can come from. Michael Dell (Founder of DELL INC) tells the story of how his company happened upon using long lasting lithium batteries – almost by accident. Dell had been in japan shortly after the company launched operations there.

He was meeting with Sony to talk about monitors, CD-ROM drives, and other technologies which Sony was developing. During that course of meeting, someone from Sony’s energy power system said he wanted to speak with him afterward. At first, Dell was confused. Energy system? What would they possibility talk about? Dell wasn’t in power plant business after all. It sounded like this guy was about to waste his time.

Indulging this Sony employee, dell listened patiently. Turns out it was a good move. They had been developing the Lithium battery that had the potential to last longer and weigh significantly less. Sony was already looking to use it in smaller devices and saw laptop as a potential market.

Dell immediately saw this as a potentially game changing breakthrough technology and moved forward quickly. It was risky proposition though. He selected entirely new and untested technology rather than existing one. A year and half after that spontaneous conversation in japan, the first Dell Laptops with Lithium batteries were introduced – an industry first – in a media event in august 1994 in which laptop was run on battery power on a non-stop flight from New York to Los Angeles.

Five and half hours later, the laptop had broken all records and become industry standard. A rushed conversation that almost didn’t happen had led to a move that leapfrogged competition.

De- Briefing this story

Lithium battery leap was possible only because Dell listened to the person from energy power system. This shows the importance of  listening to others. Because you never know where the next winning idea may come from. Listen carefully and try connecting the dots- where others won’t.

This story can be used to share the importance of

  1. Game changing technology
  2. Risk taking
  3. Listening to others
  4. Having an open mind


One more inspiring story of Dell – “IT WON’T WORK” – IGNORE THAT


Story Source 

Power of storytelling by Jim Holtje

Michael Dell, direct from Dell (New York: HarperBusiness, 1999)

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