James Dyson: The Engineer Entrepreneur

            
 
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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN054
Case Length : 21 Pages
Period : 2000-2007
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Dyson Appliances Ltd.
Industry : Electricals & Electronics
Countries : UK; Europe: USA

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.



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"What drives me is making products work better. I prefer the people I work with to have real originality of thought and I encourage them to make mistakes. If you try to get them to choose the right decision you end up following how other people have solved a problem, not doing things differently."1

- James Dyson, in 2004.

"An engineer's life is 99 percent failure. So failure clearly doesn't depress me. I think it has the reverse effect on me. You don't learn from success, and your successes are few and far between. Failure is like a drug, actually. You go to work each day excited, because you know there are hundreds of problems there that you haven't solved. It's living on the edge, because you might come up with the solution or you might not. The future of the company depends on it."2

- James Dyson, in 2007.

"He's different from other inventors. A lot of people have great ideas, but they have no clue how to turn them into products. James takes it to the level where it's commercial and productive."3

- Glenn Weston-Murphy, Lecturer, Yale University's Faculty of Engineering, in 2007.

UK's Greatest Entrepreneur?

On December 30, 2006, James Dyson (Dyson), a UK-based engineer and founder of Dyson Appliances Ltd (DAL), received a knighthood for his services to the business world (Refer to Exhibit I for a photograph of James Dyson). Speaking on the occasion, Dyson, best known as the inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, and admired as an innovative engineer and entrepreneur, said, "I hope something like this will encourage other engineers and people who have ideas and inventions to go out and commercialise them… I'm obviously very happy. It's a great honour, and really, not just for me, but for the 1,500 people who work with me in Wiltshire and around the world; they have made a British invention a great international success."4

Leadership and Entrepreneurship Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Case Studies

Dyson invented the bagless vacuum cleaner in the mid-1980s.

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1]  "Suck it and See," www.london-innovation.org, 2003.

2]  Julie Schlosser, "Dyson is Cleaning up in this Industry," Fortune, www.money.cnn.com, January 16, 2007.

3]  Steve Hamm, "The Vacuum Man Takes on Wet Hands," www.businessweek.com, July 2, 2007.

4]  Ben Hall, "Inventor James Dyson is Knighted," www.news.bbc.co.uk, December 30, 2006.

 

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