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      Ken's Leadership

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.


  1. 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.

  2. INTEGRITY: He lived with and by a strong set of ethical principles and insisted that everyone at Digital uphold high ethical values and practices.

  3. EXCELLENCE: Ken's insistence on striving for excellence led to Digital's having the best products, organization, and people.

  4. 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.

  5. HARD WORK: He said "an excellent result requires travail." Ken worked tirelessly and so did everyone in the company.

  6. FREEDOM: Ken 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.


  1. 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 encouraged.

  2. 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.

  3. KEEP IT SIMPLE: Keep management messages clear and simple so everyone will understand what is being asked of them.

  4. ADVANCEMENT BASED ON PERFORMANCE: Digital was a merit-based environment. Advancement was based on an individual's performance and attitude and desire to succeed.

  5. INNOVATION: The 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 customers.

  6. 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.

  7. 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 always encouraged.

  8. COMMUNICATE THESE 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 universally.


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