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Great ideas, shame about the engineeringWhen they arrive at Dyson’s Wiltshire campus, recruits are handed a copy of its founder’s autobiography, Against the Odds, writes Liam Kelly.The ritual gives a glimpse of what former workers at the vacuums-to-hairdryers empire describe as the “cult of personality”.Sir James Dyson, 71, has become a business hero since he left the Royal College of Art in the 1970s and developed a wheelbarrow with a red plastic ball at the front. An estimated 67m homes around the world now own one of his products.With fame and power has come a quirky corporate culture. A cadre of middle managers “second-guess what they think James would like, and do things in his name”, said a former manager. Teams are discouraged from communicating and the company is “unusual and inward-looking”, he added.Dyson is still involved with all products. “It’s really cool, because you get to have meetings with him,” said a former engineer. “But also kind of annoying, because it’s really hard to make decisions unless James Dyson makes them.”One former employee described the man known as JD as “like a nice old grandad”. Another engineer who attended product meetings described Dyson as “friendly and approachable”, adding that he “didn’t dominate the conversation at all”.Not all workers think they are in the presence of an engineering genius. “He’s a great ideas man,” said one. “I don’t think he’s a great engineer. Engineering is about getting the final solution with the smallest number of steps.”Dyson famously took 15 years — and 5,127 attempts — to make his first bagless vacuum cleaner.