June 21, 2010

#DellCAP: From Behind the Curtain to Next Steps

published this at 10:25 am

Fodder to Focus


Wed through Friday last week I was honored to be part of the inaugural DELL Customer Advisory Panel (CAP) event at the DELL HQ in Round Rock, TX. (Thank you, DELL, for generously covering the costs of our travel.) I arrived with curiosity about the experience fueled by the information sharing that introduced the event.

Now I’m home and my mind is filled with the experience — so much “fodder.” This is a case study in a new sort of customer outreach. It was participatory anthropology. The people studying our responses were in the room asking questions, adding thoughts, and most importantly, listening and hearing.

This was NOT a focus group.

What Impressed Me

This was the first #DellCAP event.


Here’s a little about the event that impressed me:

What Might Have Worked Better

The afternoon was in the DELL Labs and took the form of a presentation. Personally I see some ways that it might have invited more interaction to pull more value from the event.

Information to Strategy?

I can only imagine the wealth of ideas and information compiled throughout the two long days of conversation and demonstrations. Graphic conversationalist, Sunni Brown, recorded key points throughout in this murals like this one …


DELL said they’ll be displaying the murals where customers and employees can see them often. The calls to action throughout are both inspiring and almost overwhelming. It’s hard to move a huge company — every huge company becomes less adventurous and more protective of what it already owns.

DELL how will you report back on what you’re doing with what you’ve found out?

Strategy that Leverages Opportunity

The task before #DellCap is to keep the conversation going, to refocus on people who grow the company — inside and out. It takes strategy and company-wide focus to reconnect with customers in a true value relationship. Change isn’t easy. Without a deep commitment and strategic plan the vision is just a nice thought.

Some strategic thinking I’d love to see (and be part of) include:

Tactics: Where I Might Go From Here?

I sat in a room rife with opportunities. Fine minds were jumping into help and offer ideas on how to reach out and grow.

What might I do if I were in that “OK, big shot, moment?” What next steps seem possible to gain the most traction from what started at #DellCap? Here are a few ideas to get the folks who want to stay with it moving forward with you.

Premise: You can’t be inside and outside the system at the same time. Know that the real value of the event was that the people who came weren’t part of the thinking that built the system. Every system needs a clear outside view.

What I might do:

Premise: Follow through is the loudest thank you. Honor all valid input and the time of those who contributed. Asking for opinions and insights is good. Valuing and honoring what you get is imperative to keeping communication open. A change in behavior is a tribute and shows respect to people who inspired that change. Show that commitment.

What I might do:

Premise: Intentionally extend relationships. Make room for the best. At least two people in my group are looking to work full time with DELL and several others would be delighted to keep working together.Value truth tellers who won’t let you fail. We all need to invest in the people who help us thrive.

What I might do:

Premise: Gather ideas and new process innovation by partnering strategically at every level and across industries. As the world becomes flatter and more social, the opportunities to raise a company to a category of one come from partnering with people and businesses who want the same things.

What I might do:

Premise: Claim your rewards and leverage them for the future. Find a way to commemorate and claim the investment and growth that took place. Make it something special to have been there — something special that we’ll all look back on with pride.

What I might do:

I’ll stop here.

The Wizard of OZ and Trust

In a sidebar discussion about the new iPhone and the DELLStreak, I was mentioning how some folks are feeling an anti-Apple sentiment over their closed system. The designer I spoke to said …

Open is a huge thing.


In the Wizard of OZ, OZ, the great and powerful, was just an image. Remember the saying?


Pay NO ATTENTION to man behind the curtain.

Dorothy didn’t have a relationship with OZ. She feared him.

Fear doesn’t inspire fiercely loyal fans. Trust and fear can’t exist in the same space.

It was when the little man came out from behind the curtain that the problem solving began.

Thanks for coming out from behind the curtain. Now on to the problem solving. Thank you Chris, Carly, Sarah, and Vance, for inviting us. Thank you, Mack, for an outstanding job at moderating a group who likes to talk.

What ideas do you have for DELL? What problems do you think they should be working on?

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!

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Filed under Blog Comments, Marketing /Sales / Social Media, Successful Blog | 6 Comments »

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6 Comments to “#DellCAP: From Behind the Curtain to Next Steps”

  1. June 21st, 2010 at 11:20 am
    Teaching a Brontosaurus to run; My review of #DellCAP said

    […] Liz Strauss’ #DellCAP Day Two review […]

  2. June 21st, 2010 at 12:10 pm
    Lorelle said

    Wow, Liz, powerful stuff. You should really be organizing ALL such corporate outreaches. This feedback is amazing and will filter into all the events I help organize and into how I deal with my clients.

    The fact that DELL came out behind the curtain to start the relationship doesn’t mean they are going to stay out – a very good point. I hope they do as they’ve been a huge leader in setting the bar high and the rest of the industry following.

    Thank you!

  3. June 21st, 2010 at 12:44 pm
    Sarah Kimmel {Tech4Moms} said

    I really enjoyed meeting you at DellCAP Liz!

    I completely agree with your points about how they could have “categorized” us into the different consumer groups and discussed the products in our group.

    I also like your idea of the timeline of implementation so we can track the follow up on our ideas.

    Thanks for the great post!

  4. June 22nd, 2010 at 9:11 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Lorelle!
    Thank you for this incredible testimonial. I have faith that DELL is going to do their best to stay out from behind the curtain, but huge corporations have so much working against them: history, process, size and the costs of re-education. The thing they have going for them is the faith and support of the C-Suite.

  5. June 22nd, 2010 at 9:12 am
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Sarah,
    I would have so enjoyed talking product with you in a small group. Hopefully, DELL will give us that opportunity in the future. I could see lots coming from just such a conversation. :)

    I’d love the Timeline too. This post shows me how much alike you and I are. :)

  6. June 24th, 2010 at 10:33 am
    How Do You Segment Your Customers? | The Marketing Eggspert Blog said

    […] #DellCAP: From Behind the Curtain to Next Steps (successful-blog.com) […]

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