WRJ: Management definitely matters. Dell wouldn’t have been the fastest-growing company of the ’90s without Michael Dell. But over time, product matters more.
AW: You don’t worship the Great Manager?
WRJ: If the product is good, it outlasts the people. Coca-Cola has had lots of great managers over its history, but if Coke hadn’t been the soft drink of choice for America and the world, it wouldn’t have mattered.
AW: What’s the lesson from Home Depot?
WRJ: Look for companies that stay paranoid. Even when Home Depot was putting all the mom and pop hardware stores out of business, they were scared to death.
AW: Your book reminds us we’ve had a number of tech booms.
WRJ: Look at Polaroid. Just as the postwar generation had children, Polaroid delivered the instant gratification of Junior’s photo. That made them a consumer hit.