Time Magazine: Michael Dell on green
Michael Dell is the opening Q&A in this week’s issue of Time. The theme:
In the past year, though, rivals have gained on him. So this year he’s going for a green advantage: he wants to erase some of the environmental cost of running computers by offering a way to neutralize the carbon dioxide emitted by a PC.
Assuming there is more to the story for Dell, they could have used this opportunity to lay out a clear plan of what they are doing internally, not only that they are giving consumers a chance to spend more to offset the environmental impact of their purchase. Coming at this with a critical eye, it’s similar to if an auto company looking to sell more SUVs says, “hey, we’re not doing anything to make our SUVs more efficient, but don’t worry, you can buy a carbon credit and that will be enough to clear your conscious and then we (auto company) don’t actually have to do anything on our end to improve.” To give them credit, Dell does mention an energy calculator for consumers but I just typed it in on their home page and nothing relevant popped up in the first search results.
My point – Dell must have more to their green story and they could have spelled it out in a few bullets. Is Dell changing the amount and type of material used in production and packaging, do they have a consumer awareness program educating the public about ways to save money and energy using a Dell PC, are they increasing X percent of R&D for energy efficient design, have they developed any breakthroughs that serve as a best practice for the industry? Consumers would probably like to know this stuff, and after following the lead of GE Ecoimagination and now companies like Wal-Mart, investors may respond well to a computer companies green roadmap.
Maybe the problem is that everyone is so quick to jump on any big company when they come out with a green story. It’s never enough for a lot of people. Instead of rewarding them, we bring out our critical eyes. As I just did. Incremental progress is progress. More trees are great. And a company the size of Dell can probably plant a whole lot of trees. But we need to be tough on people so that the improvements get bigger. Leaders recognize accomplishments while continuing to push people to their potential. Maybe that’s where we are. Recognize, reward and keep pushing.
The PR side of this. If you have a story, be honest and tell the whole story (or as much as you can recognizing the needs of your shareholders). Here’s where we are, here’s where we can improve and here’s where we’re going. People are going to be critical. Don’t leave gaps for questions. Considering Dell had less than half of a page for this, he did a good job. But I still have questions.
Question #1: is Dell matching the any percentage of the $$ they’re asking their customers to spend on carbon credits?