Dell 5: Dell's Flexibility

Mike Dell sees that some of tech's legendary figures lost their way by refusing to admit mistakes. He cites DEC's Ken Olsen as one who stuck with his strategy until the market passed him by and hints that Sun's Scott McNealy could be next.

He, on the other hand is non-dogmatic and very flexible. In 2001, he scrapped a plan to enter the mobile-phone market six months after hiring a top exec from Motorola Inc. to head it up. He decided the prospects weren't bright enough to offset the costs of entry.

Then, Dell wrote off its only major acquisition, a storage-technology company. Dell backed out of the high-end storage business because he decided its technology wasn't ready for market. "Guys that have been in the saddle for 15 and 20 years tend to get too religious. He's the exception to the rule." (Ed Zanders, ex-prez of Sun).

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