Reinventing Dell

By Heather Simmons: Innovation Expert and Tech Disrupter

Reinventing Dell: Launching November 16, 2015

Picture of Heather Simmons essential text on innovation Reinventing Dell

Dell once topped Fortune's Most Admired Companies list, and held the #1 market share in personal computing. Between 1991 and 1999, Dell's stock price outperformed its next closest competitor by a factor of 20 times. Then, beginning in the mid-2000s, Dell lost $80 billion in market value, dropped to the #3 market share position, and suffered a decline in its reputation for customer service. In 2013, Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners took the company private and began the task of reinventing Dell. In this essential new innovation text, former Dell executive Heather Simmons asks:

How might Dell reinvent itself and disrupt its industry yet again?

Heather Simmons was an executive director at Dell from its early days in Austin to its peak in 2005. With interviews from ten former Dell employees, Simmons analyzes how Dell's success was driven not only by its innovative direct business model, but also by a unique culture that encouraged risk-taking and a relentless, "whatever-it-takes" approach to execution. She reveals that a culture shift and the pressures of Wall Street led to the decline of innovation at Dell. Simmons suggests that Dell can reinvent itself by using its significant capital to intelligently combine technologies from a portfolio of acquisitions, both small and large.

Reinventing Dell turns Dell’s rise and fall into cogent lessons that business leaders can’t do without. Simmons combines insights from former employees and seminal management thinking, including principles and frameworks from Harvard professors Clayton Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma) and Linda Hill (Collective Genius), to analyze Dell's culture. Simmons' own new framework, The Intelligent Gambler©, can be used to evaluate any organization’s innovation potential. Revealing, funny, and incredibly useful, Heather Simmons' Reinventing Dell is a must-read for leaders in the digital age.

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For Reinventing Dell, author Heather Simmons interviewed former Dell employees who had front-row seats for the company's rise and fall.

From Chapter 5, The Early Years

An operations manager who was hired in the '80s describes her first meeting with Michael: 'I was in a meeting, and we were talking about hard drives. Suddenly, this guy who looks like he’s 15 starts reeling off the specs of all the hard drives, the delivery times, and the prices. With no notes. I kept leaning further and further forward across the table, straining to see his nametag, wondering who this young genius was. Finally, I read it – Michael. At that point I realized that ‘Michael’ was the CEO of the company, and he was now looking at ME quizzically, wondering why I was staring at him.'

From Chapter 6, Culture Shift

"The tolerance for risk-taking in the company was (by 2004) almost completely and totally, none." - Bill Sharpe, former CEO of Dell's Canadian advertising agency.

From Chapter 7, Reinvention

"Knowing that an asteroid is going to hit the earth is not really useful if you are not planning to launch missiles to knock them out of the sky. You have to work massively overtime on the belief that innovation or massive change is going to happen. And as a management team, you’ve got to be willing to respond, and you have to be willing to do the experiments to address the change that’s coming." - Tom Martin, former Dell VP of Marketing