These messages summarizing Ken's leadership were
presented to the DEC Connection audience by Win Hindle on
27 Sep 2008.
Win joined Digital in 1962 from MIT, served as Senior Vice President, and retired in 1994. Since then Win has served on many corporate
Boards. Win claimed that any of us in the audience could have given
his presentation, and while it is true that we've heard the messages before,
no one could put it together better than Win, and we thank him for his own
leadership role in implementing these values and principles and practices
throughout Digital over the years.
HONESTY: Ken always
said that "honesty was the bedrock of a person's values." This
applies to all dealings professionally, whether with our customers,
vendors, co-workers, or others.
INTEGRITY: He lived
with and by a strong set of ethical principles and insisted that
everyone at Digital uphold high ethical values and practices.
insistence on striving for excellence led to Digital's having the best
products, organization, and people.
HIGH QUALITY: A high
quality organization doing a high quality job with high quality products
leads to the generation of profit and growth, according to Ken. Quality
was always the goal, growth and profit were the outcome.
HARD WORK: He said
"an excellent result requires travail." Ken worked tirelessly and so did
everyone in the company.
believed that a work environment without constraints - and one where you
could choose your own associates - would empower individuals to propose
bold ideas. This kind of freedom attracted the best people.
PRINCIPLES and PRACTICES:
PLANS: Every group must
have an operating plan, proposed and accepted, with measurements built
in to measure progress. "He who proposes, does" became the mantra of
workers at all levels of the company. Intelligent risk-taking was
EXCELLENT RELATIONS WITH
CUSTOMERS: Digital people were to be straightforward and honest with
customers, and always fulfill their expectations. Ken believed that
customer satisfaction was a basic principle of success. He insisted that
employees meet their commitments to customers.
KEEP IT SIMPLE: Keep
management messages clear and simple so everyone will understand what is
being asked of them.
ADVANCEMENT BASED ON
PERFORMANCE: Digital was a merit-based environment. Advancement was
based on an individual's performance and attitude and desire to succeed.
principle of innovation applied not only to technology but also to
people and processes. It led to one of the first computer sales forces
that operated on salary rather than commission (so the incentive was to
concentrate on what the customer needed, rather than what would make
them the most money). It also led to the establishment of overseas
operations led by people from each country so that the local
organization would understand and therefore be more sensitive to their
MANAGEMENT BY PARABLE:
Ken never dictated to anybody what to do, but he wrote memos with
analogies and stories that would make a point, and allow the
interpretation of advice according to an individual's imagination and
experience. Ken asked questions to stimulate thinking. "We will trust in
and gamble on young people." Digitalís greatest successes were achieved
by being unique and different.
MANAGEMENT BY WALKING
AROUND: No corporate executive was more in tune with his
employees than Ken was, because he always took the time, whether at the
Mill or on the road in a sales office in Europe, to visit with, ask
questions of, and listen to Digital employees. This led to a corporate
environment where any employee could talk to any other employee or
manager - the original "open door policy". Direct communications were
PRINCIPLES: Ken regularly wrote and spoke about these
principles. He felt that the fewer decisions he made, the better he
liked it, because that meant that others were taking responsibility. "In
dealing with a customer, vendor, or employee, do what is right to do in
each situation" became another corporate mantra that was applied