The President and CEO of Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, reveals how to identify and exploit the key moments of change in any industry that generates either drastic failure or incredible success. Under Andrew Grove's leadership, Intel has become the world's largest computer chipmaker, the 5th most admired company in America, and the 7th most profitable company among the Fortune 500. Few CEOs can claim this level of success. Grove attributes much of it to the philosophy and strategy he has learned the hard way as he steered Intel through a series of potential major disasters. There are moments in any business when massive change occurs, when all the rules of business shift fast, furiously and forever. Grove calls such moments strategic inflection points (SIPs), and he has lived through several. They can be set off by almost anything - by mega competition, an arcane change in regulations, or by a seemingly modest change in technology. They are not always easy to spot - but you can't hide from them. Intel's first SIP was when the Japanese started producing better-quality, lower-cost memory chips. It took Grove three years and huge losses to recognize that he had to rethink and reposition the company to become, once again, leader in its field.Grove extrapolates the lessons he has learned from this and other SIPs - for instance the drama of the Pentium flaw, and the SIP brought on by the Internet - to reveal a unique insight into the management of change. He recounts strategies from other companies and examines his own record of success and failure. Only the Paranoid Survive is a classic lesson in leadership skills that every manager in every industry will benefit from. Every manager must assume that something will change - very soon.
Andrew Stephen ("Andy") Grove (born 2 September 1936), is a Hungarian-born American businessman, engineer, and author. He is a science pioneer in the semiconductor industry. He escaped from Communist-controlled Hungary at the age of 20 and moved to the United States where he finished his education. He later became CEO of Intel Corporation and helped transform the company into the world's largest manufacturer of semiconductors.
In 1968, As a result of his work at Intel, and from his books and professional articles, Grove had a considerable influence on the management of modern electronics manufacturing industries worldwide. He has been called the "guy who drove the growth phase" of Silicon Valley.Steve Jobs, when he was considering returning to be Apple's CEO, called Grove, who was someone he "idolized," for his personal advice. One source notes that by his accomplishments at Intel alone, he "merits a place alongside the great business leaders of the 20th century."
I picked this book because it was referred by Ben Horowitz (http://bhorowitz.com/2011/04/15/peace...). Other reason being the book's interesting title which somehow conveyed to me that it must be a book about how Andy Grove was paranoid (in good sense) enough to make Intel an Awesome company.
But as soon as started the book I become disappointed because it's not the book I thought it to be. Its not about Andy Grove being tough CEO or his paranoid decisions. It's is just like any other common business book written by a High profile CEO.
Book is all about "Strategic Inflection Point" that in simple language means any BIG turn of events in your company (or your industry or technology) like Intel ditched Memory business - the business it started with - and moved to microprocessors business. Book doesn't give any practical tips or secret sauce to handle these big turn of events. Nothing at all. It's more like slog it through, brainstorm with your team, decisions can be tough, you need to take your team with you etc etc. But you would have read all those in 100s of blogs previously.
There are few interesting chunks in the book: 1. CxOs (or senior management team) are always 'last to know' guys. They get bad news very, very late. This is so true, I totally agree to this. Your middle management will filter the info/news before presenting it to you, and nearly all the times they will present data/story in a format so that they look smart, tough, intelligent and proactive. No one wants to tell the bad news. Create a culture in your team/company so that people are open to you (or their supervisors) without any inhibition of being reprimanded/joked/ignored or given a look like it's above your pay grade dude. Create an open and transparent culture. Be open to healthy arguments, in fact encourage healthy arguments. This culture can't be created in days or months, it will take years but it'll be worth it.
2. People (even competent, highly intelligent, serious-minded people) can come to different set of conclusions about a given set of facts. For ex: IBM and Intel went two different ways on using X-Ray to define feature of a chip. So nothing is Right or Wrong. Iterate and Iterate as fast as you can. Fast iteration is better than slower qualitative iteration.
Another thing that i realized while reading this book is: Why am I reading this book? I am a wannabe entrepreneur and this book is about Billion Dollars Big Critical decisions. It, by no means, immediately benefit me. This 'might' be helpful for senior management guys but for everyone else: just give it a pass.
Inflection The strategies and decisions, and luck, Intel embraced are remarkable and to cover them all in detail in a short book would have been impossible. The fundamental essence of this book is that the only constant we can expect in business is CHANGE. How do we anticipate it? How do we prepare for that point where we either change or die? The ones we sometimes see coming and the ones we don’t. That Inflection Point. Can we recognise or anticipate change or do we create processes that enable us to rapidly respond once the change is obvious?
For well-established market leaders that fail, this is typically why. History is littered with huge multi-national companies that failed to see the change and respond effectively - they don't exist anymore. Intel was nearly one of those companies but this book provides very interesting insight and the remarkable thinking that existed within Intel at the time to deal with the pivot necessary to save their business.
The book is written with the flow of a story, which helps it resonate well. It also reminds us that many decisions involve agonising analysis and reasoning, and are extremely personal. The book is full of Grove’s war stories which are really interesting and relevant as we lived through many of these events. A good point that I remember from the book is when Andrew Grove recollects his darkest moment 'when he realised that not only were the Japanese cheaper in manufacturing memory chips, but their quality levels were at levels that Intel didn’t even think possible'. Intel’s move away from memory to microprocessors was traumatic and the inflection “point” was not so much a point as a long drawn out and painful affair. The backdrop to that inflection point and other points, make this book a great learning experience.
I love the term and the concept Only the Paranoid Survive, which in business keeps us on our toes worrying about that change which is inevitably coming. This is a short easy read that I would recommend.
His book "Only the Paranoid Survive" talks about his key business philosophy. One should always be on the lookout for new trends or products that might displace or destroy yours. Under him, Intel was famous for cannibilizing their older chips, their cash cows, with the new ones. The competition just couldn't follow their relentless pace.
I recommend the book to everyone in management or business whether in high-tech or not.
Key Quotes: "The replacement of corporate heads is far more motivated by the need to bring in someone who is not invested in the past than to get somebody who is a better leader or better manager in other ways." ---Andy Grove, Only the Paranoid Survive (p127)
Strategic change doesn't just start at the top, it starts with your calendar. ---(p146)
"Put all of your eggs in one basket, then WATCH THAT BASKET" --- Mark Twain
Ask yourself: 'Will going to this meeting teach me about the new technology or the new market that I think is very important now?' 'Will it introduce me to people who can help me in the new direction?' 'Will it send a message about the importance of the new direction?' If so, go to it. If not, resist it. --- (p154)
[Great leadership during change starts by letting chaos reign (debate), then, when the time is right, reign in the chaos (determined march)] This dynamic dialectic is a must. --- (p161)
The best part of Andy Grove's book might be the title: "Only the Paranoid Survive". Large organizations often fail, because they don't adapt fast enough. There are two types of forces that organizations run into. 1x forces, which fall within the normal action/reaction that people and organizations are easily able to adjust to. However, there are also 10x forces that fundamentally change the rules, and most people and most organizations fail to adapt to these more fundamental changes quickly enough.
For example, think of these changes as waves in the ocean. The wave may come from any direction, but all are manageable. However, occasionally there is a tidal wave --- which you can detect and respond properly to, but that response is fundamentally different than the way you respond to a normal 1x wave.
In Intel's case, they faced 10x forces twice. 1. Intel started in the RAM business. Japanese factories caught up with them. The Japanese had lower cost structures and higher volumes, and government support - they sucked all of the profit out of the RAM business and ultimately took Intel's market share. Intel managed the transition by moving from a RAM company to a CPU company. 2. Customers boycotting Intel CPUs. Intel never thought of end-customers as their customers, because they didn't sell direct to the end customers. However, they started branding their CPUs and asked manufacturers to put an "Intel Inside" logo on computers that used Intel CPUs. When they ran into small manufacturing problems and didn't take massive steps to correct those problems, their end consumers felt that Intel was taking advantage of them, and therefore started boycotting their chips. Intel took massive losses, but eventually recognized they needed to service both end-consumers and their normal manufacturer customers.
According to Andy, there are 6 areas where theses 1x and 10x forces can start: 1: Competition: Ex. Your a mom & pop shop when wall-mart comes to town 2: Technology: Ex. Sound takes over silent films, Containers overtake shipping of loose items, PC revolution 3: Customers: Changing taste in Ford/GM cars. Attitude shifts. Super-computers. 4: Suppliers: Airlines vs Travel Agents. "Second Sourcing" in the tech component business. 5: Complementors: 6: Regulation: Patent Medicines, Telecommunication, Privatization, EPA
Finally, Grove cautions us to always remain aware. Your business will fundamentally be hit by 10x changes. It's just a question of WHEN, and HOW YOU RESPOND to those changes. The earlier and more accurately you identify 10x changes, the more freedom you have to choose your response, because your original business will provide the resources to jump-start the new business. As you go through the transition, you should "let go" of the system, and learn from the people below you - Andy says "To Let Chaos Reign". But once you have all the information you need to properly identify the new business (typically including completed marketing, completed testing) then you must take control, "Reign in the Chaos", and quickly complete the transition to the new business model.
Absolutely the right combination of deep industry expertise and accomplishment, mixed with a truly fresh and valuable perspective on things.
I’ve heard this book bandied about by people I respect for a while, I never got around to reading it until now. Absolutely worth it. Tremendous example of mentally shifting from sort of a maintenance “peacetime“ CEO role, to a “wartime“ CEO dealing with white Grove calls “inflection points.”
This book discusses some really important ideas, primarily the "10x forces" that fundamentally change businesses and the "strategic inflection points" during which an industry is transformed by these "10x forces" (yes, he quotes that term everywhere it appears in the book). Grove explores these ideas using his experience as CEO during Intel's switch from making memories to making microprocessors in the late 80's as the primary example, but he emphasizes that these ideas are not unique to the tech industry and also explores SIPs in other industries ranging from sound in the movie industry to Wal-Mart in retail. After explaining these concepts and pointing to that range of examples, the author spends most of the book discussing how to manage companies during these crises: how to know that you're in the middle of a SIP, how to separate signal from noise during that confusing period, and the importance of fostering healthy debate but subsequently projecting decisive leadership.
The material covered in this book is important for anyone in business, and I mostly agreed with the author's high-level ideas but I was disappointed by the book itself. The case study of Intel was fascinating, especially hearing it told from the man in charge at the time. But much of the advice was either obvious or overly simplistic. For an obvious example, take the idea of listening to what your sales people and individual contributors on the ground are telling you about how their jobs are changing. This seems like something managers should *always* be doing. It could be one of those things that sounds obvious when you say it but isn't something you think about when you're in that position. Or maybe I'm unusually aware of these ideas because the book is 15 years old now or because I've been lucky to work for engineering-driven companies that were well aware of these ideas (and socialized them). Quite likely the approach just didn't resonate with me because the book is targeted at middle and senior managers, not individual contributors.
The "Reign in Chaos" chapter that describes setting strong direction after a period of open debate had some particularly condescending passages. On page 145 Grove counsels managers that "admitting that you need to learn something new is always difficult. It is even harder if you are a senior manager who is accustomed to the automatic deference which people accord you owning to your position. But if you don't fight it, that very deference may become a wall that isolates you from learning new things. It all takes self-discipline." That's right, it's tough as a senior manager to avoid completely ignoring the ideas of your subordinates, but you can do it with a little bit of self-discipline. Next time one of your reports has something to say and you just want to send them back to the salt mine, consider listening instead.
On page 163 there's the story of a "very competent" senior manager at Intel who had some great ideas but according to Grove just went about them poorly. He "organized a committee...to investigate an issue and come up with a recommendation. It turned out that this manager knew all along what he wanted to do, but instead of giving that direction to the committee, which he could have, he was hoping to engineer a bottom-up decision to the same effect. When the committee came up with the opposite recommendation, he felt cornered. At this late stage, he tried to dictate his solution to people who by now had spent months struggling with an issue and had firmed up their minds. It just couldn't be done. Coming as it did at this late stage, his dictate seemed utterly arbitrary." Yes, telling a committee of your reports that the results of their lengthy discussions are all wrong and you're going to do the opposite because you think it's better just _seems_ arbitrary. And I guess the lesson to managers is: don't ask your reports to think about what to do because they'll just come up with the wrong answer and be angry when you set them straight.
Despite these parts and the overall lackluster presentation, these ideas _are_ pretty important and the author's obviously considered them a lot. One last thing: the book's a bit old now (written in 1996) and predates things like the Internet's explosive growth, but to the author's credit in several cases he accurately forecast industry-transforming changes including the Internet's disruption of the travel booking industry and the difficulty that faces music, movie, and software companies in a world where people can download media through the Internet. The last chapter covers "The Internet" entirely and basically asks: "fad or the biggest innovation of the century" -- he comes down on the right side, but with our hindsight it makes for some interesting reading.
Andy Grove, then CEO of Intel Corp, is clearly worth listening to on the subject of management. The "Wintel" success story is well known. More harrowing was Intel's earlier self-transformation from making memory chips to making microprocessors.
How to steer an enterprise thru a major change in its business, per Mr. Grove: 1) Figure out if a major change is imminent. If so, you're about to enter what Grove calls "the valley of death". 2) Figure out how to deal with it. Largely (for CEOs), this involves listening to your employees & doing your homework. 3) Set a new course, sell it to your company, and stick to it.
The "secret" to success here is identifying the oncoming crisis early & reacting sensibly. He relates the story of Apple, a company with clearly superior products - the Mac operating system, the first good laser printer - completely missing the shift from proprietary to open PC standards, and ending up as a niche player. John Sculley, then Apple's CEO, acknowledged this crucial mistake years later. Groves thinks Sculley knew this shift was happening , but wasn't able to overcome Apple's "inertia of success". Curiously, this was pretty much the same problem IBM had when PCs began displacing mainframes. It's very hard for an organization to give up a strategy that has been richly rewarded in the past.
In management, as in engineering, we often learn more from failures than successes. Grove's case histories will make informative reading for anyone in business. Not many of us are CEOs, but we'll all go thru Grove's "strategic inflection points" in our careers. [Review written 1998]
خیلی وقت بود می خواستم این کتاب رو بخونم ولی فرصت اش پیش نمی یومد، ولی حالا که خوندنش رو تموم کردم با خودم می گم ای کاش زودتر می خوندم این کتاب رو که نوشته اندرو گرو مدیرعامل و رئیس هیئت مدیره پیشین اینتل هست، پیتر دراکر هم درباره این کتاب گفته: «این اثر برجسته کتابی خطرناک می باشد که انسان را ناچار به اندیشیدن می نماید!»، از موضوعات محوری و مهم این کتاب نقطه های چرخش راهبردی هست، که به نظر باید همه در این زمینه یاد بگیریم چون بدون شک در زندگی باهاش بارها مواجه خواهیم شد، در مورد تصمیم گیری در زمانی که درگیر نیروی دگرگون ساز ۱۰ برابر شده ایم، یا بهتر چطوری این نیروها را پیش بینی کنیم و خودمون رو براشون آماده کنیم، چطوری سازمان را به سمت درست هدایت کنیم و چطوری تصمیمات به موقع و درستی بگیریم، به نظرم خوندن این کتاب خوب رو از دست ندید.
In the business books category, this one ranks high. Grove asks a fundamental question - how do companies die or survive a strategic inflection point? Translation: how do they survive when a "10x" change hits their business and there are only two trajectories: exponential growth or rapid decline to zero.
There are never clear answers to any such questions. But there are processes. One must constantly ask whether changes that are happening are "10x changes" or standard business procedure. Is it noise, or a signal? Constant communication in between employees is crucial as well: generally the top management is the last to realize that changes are anew, since they are not the ones on the "battleground". That point may have changed since the 90s as data exchange was not as fluent back then. Nonetheless, employees who talk to customers on a daily basis have the type of information that top management will never have.
Once a 10x change is detected, action must be clear and instant. Grove highlights how oftentimes managers who are at strategic inflection points spend their time going to conferences, writing books, doing charity. In other words, doing all types of other things so that they would not have to deal with the most difficult task they will face during their time as CEO.
I can't help but delve into current affairs as well. Ever since Covid-19 started spreading in the Western world, I have been thinking about the title of this book quite often. Had world leaders and people in general been a bit more paranoid, some carnage would have been circumvented.
2.5/5 (I was thinking to give it 2.2. But since the book dates back at 1998 & I see some of Grove's prediction has come true by this time, I think 2.5 is enough) My favorite moment from the book is when Gordon Moore & Grove decides to get rid of the memory business at Intel in the face of an inflection point by Japanese manufacturers. This reminds me, most often we hold the key to put a stop to our misery but we barely notice that. I appreciate Grove's approach to introduce various inflection points in the business from his experience at Intel. But the book is not so well written. Grove surely knows what he has to offer but couldn't match that expectation with his writing. The details of the examples are inadequate & still too short to be sufficient. Many characters are kept anonymous & criticisms are blunt. I guess he took safe side. May be he didn't want to piss off many people. Recently, I finished Steve Jobs' biography & I see he's not that open to Steve's support for vertical platform. And I see he's praising Sculley. :3 Okay, I feel if this book have any new edition, Steve Jobs must have his rightful distinguished place since he revolutionized Apple after his return at 1997.
I had heard so much about this book being a classic, and I finally read it. Whats lovely is that it was written in 1996, and he lays out the principles of how to prepare for, deal with and manage change - especially when it comes to a change in how the business works... When industries/ structures/ networks change - it can ruin organisations or catapult them to dominant positions. It is also a signal to either scale up in that direction or retreat completely out of the current one.
It's also a brilliant reason why value investors hate businesses that are prone to significant changes - because then, one has to rely on management prowess to be able to change, and that tends to be unpredictable.
Brilliant book. Last 2 chapters got boring, but some stories and examples are brilliant.
A absolute must read for every serious entrepreneur. I wish to become as good leader and entrepreneur as he was.
This book does not only touch a very interesting topic that mean life or death for enterprises, but adding the fact that the book was written in the nineties - it's very interesting to see a world class CEOs view on the potential changes Internet will bring - from our perspective in the year 2016.
Quite an old book by Venture Capital & Electronics Industry standards, but its easy to see how Grove was pretty far ahead of the curve (10X thinking/Inflection Points/CXO culture) compared to prevailing management theory.
This is a quick read, although I can't say it's all that useful. Grove starts with Porter's Five Forces as a framework for business analysis, and then considers situations in which one of the forces increases by tenfold. The principles he outlays for such a situation are described as such:
"One, don’t differentiate without a difference. Don’t introduce improvements whose only purpose is to give you an advantage over your competitor without giving your customer a substantial advantage.
Two, in this hypercompetitive horizontal world, opportunity knocks when a technology break or other fundamental change comes your way. Grab it. The first mover and only the first mover, the company that acts while the others dither, has a true opportunity to gain time over its competitors—and time advantage, in this business, is the surest way to gain market share.
Three, price for what the market will bear, price for volume, then work like the devil on your costs so that you can make money at that price. This will lead you to achieve economies of scale in which the large investments that are necessary can be effective and productive and will make sense because, by being a large-volume supplier, you can spread and recoup those costs. By contrast, cost-based pricing will often lead you into a niche position, which in a mass-production-based industry is not very lucrative."
As CEO of Intel, Grove reflects on a time in which the Pentium processor received significant negative press. He describes the ways that he addressed the situation as the leader of a large organization. He emphasizes the importance of listening to middle management, as those are the people who are closest to seeing the trends develop with customers and markets. He focuses on keeping emotions of senior management under control to properly grasp the changing environment:
"Senior managers got to where they are by having been good at what they do. And over time they have learned to lead with their strengths. So it’s not surprising that they will keep implementing the same strategic and tactical moves that worked for them during the course of their careers—especially during their “championship season.” I call this phenomenon the inertia of success. It is extremely dangerous and it can reinforce denial."
"Admitting that you need to learn something new is always difficult. It is even harder if you are a senior manager who is accustomed to the automatic deference which people accord you owing to your position. But if you don’t fight it, that very deference may become a wall that isolates you from learning new things. It all takes self-discipline."
Moreover, it's not merely a question of understanding that a shift in the industry is occurring, it also requires a leader with the charisma to lead based on his vision:
"I was stunned when I heard this. Listening to Sculley gave me the impression that he understood the implications of the horizontal industry structure. It appeared that he just wasn’t strong enough to overpower Apple’s inertia of success that existed because of its fifteen-year history as a fully vertical computer company."
Overall, while this book is a short read, I can't say that it's particularly insightful or persuasive in terms of management advice. I have a lot of respect for Andrew Grove, but much of this book amounts to the typical business book conjecture, with assertions that lack significant evidence outside of anecdotes.
This is one of the most recommended books by the leaders of Silicon Valley companies. I think that's because 20 years ago, this was fresh insights from a current leader. It's a bit dated now, but the fundamentals are still strong.
Generally, I enjoyed this a lot, but I took a star off for his fundamental thesis--that fear is good. He explicitly talks about stoking your fear to keep it strong, even cultivating in your employees. I do understand that it fear will stimulate a lot of hard work, but I also know that it limits creativity and burns people out. It's not a long-term solution (and it's not a healthy way of living).
The rest of the stuff is great, though. Defining what an inflection point is (when things have turned the corner in an industry so a new strategy is required) and his principles on how to deal with those seasons of change was great. For example, the change is noticed first by the periphery of the organization, not the center (the top leaders). So listen to their concerns and take them seriously.
Brilliantly written. While the businesses of the day talk about real-time data crunching, lead and lag indicators in depth. Here's a leader's guide to mending your business instincts, picking up patterns that even the most meticulously collated data might fail to capture.
Right from the horse's mouth, the legendary CEO narrates several "been there done that" experiences from the decades that define the birth of modern computers. Connecting with the pure genius of Drucker and Porter this book is just one among the most valuable "MUST read" for entrepreneurs and executives in the making.
Anyone can sail the still waters of good times, it requires a master and watchful leader to navigate the turbulent waves of deep seas. This equips one approach for such deep waters.
The book introduces the concept of strategic inflection point, a moment in time in the existence of a company when things around it are rapidly changing and without decisive action, it might wither into irrelevance.
Intel went through one when it's memory business was challenged by low cost, high quality memory units from Japanese competitors. Intel found it's path, albeit painfully and pivoted to microcontroller business - and rest is history.
The book is a bit dated, especially with the examples of companies Andy holds up. Hewlett Packard, Compaq and others are not the hottest, most successful companies anymore but if you're a student of history you'll get a lot of out of this book.
I enjoyed learning about Intel's history as well as the last section of personal inflection points wrt ones career.
This book is a classic for a reason and one you should read
For being a book that is over 30 years old I thoroughly enjoyed the wisdom of this author. His theory of "inflection points" and how to navigate them or know you are in one is amazing. Plus, he uses the term "10X" a lot in this book and I wonder if he was the original person to coin the term. I know Grant Cardone, another great author, uses it more than anyone else and even wrote a book with the "10X" in the title. I can see why Intel is still a powerful company on this planet and this author was instrumental in taking Intel into the business capacity they are at now. I have read many books by CEO's and this is definitely on the top of the list.
I really can’t be mad this book sucked it was the first miss in awhile.
#1 this book is just the same chapter 10 times #2 I didn’t like his style of writing and felt like he said nothing by saying a lot #3 his one lesson that I took away is you should constantly be thinking about what can force you to reinvent yourself or your company
Overall, only Brett who is a totally semiconductor nerd should read this book.
Disappointing read. Was a rather short book that can be finished over a weekend. Puts forth a few neat-sounding concepts (i.e. x10 force, inflection point) that in fact, do not offer much insights. Anecdotes offered are also often superficial. This was exacerbated by the fact that Grove is a management legend and as readers, we expect a lot more from someone with his track record.
I thought this was going to be a relatively out of date book by a hardware boomer, but it had some pretty neat perspectives on crisis management generally.
Some of the things that resonated with me: - You need to differentiate between the people who generate signals vs. noise - Analysis paralysis is real. Old data doesn’t forecast the future perfectly - To avoid dealing with a crisis, the CxO will turn attention to an “infinite sink” problem to avoid dealing with the real issues (e.g. writing a book ala Jack Welch)
Imagine sitting next to a retired businessman on a transatlantic flight as he drones on and on about microprocessor chips and pontificates about the important of ‘making difficult decisions in life and business’. That’s what it’s like reading this book.
Andy Grove was senior manager and CEO at Intel for a very long time and was one of the architects of the spectacular rise of Intel as microprocessor powerhouse. The book was written by Andy grove in 1997, one year before he stepped down as CEO of Intel.
He outlines how he dealt with what he called “inflection points” at Intel. An inflection point is in his definition a point where business changes so profoundly that either the business changes as well or the company will be killed by competitors. For Intel, this was the case when in the 1980ties, the Japanese suddenly were able to produce better and cheaper memory chips which were until then Intel’s main business.
Grove managed then to shut down the memory business and concentrate the efforts on the microprocessor business which was until then only a small part of the business. His first person (CEO) perspective is very interesting to read as change doesn’t come naturally to large and succesful companies.
I also found the book especially interesting because Intel is one of the famous cases for a “size moat” in Bruce Greenwald’s “Competition demystified”. Greenwald there argues that Intel’s success in microprocessors was more or less given because they had such a size advantage compared to AMD, their major competitor. Reading the book, I got the impression that Prof. Greenwald greatly simplified this. There seemed to have been several junctions on the way where Intel easily could have went “of course”, such as the rise of the RISC processors or the question at that time if multimedia will be won by PCs or TV sets. For me, one of the lessons o f the book is that Moats, at least in technology are always “weak moats” as the development is just too dynamic.
The most powerful concept of the book in my opinion is the following concept from Andy Grove: If you see someone coming up with a new idea or a competing product, then you should ask yourself the question: Is this a thread to the business if this gets 10 times bigger or better or faster ? His theory (and paranoia) was that if it is a thread at 10x bigger/better/faster than the probability of this actually happening is very big and you have to do something about it. And fast…
If I use this concept for instance for electrical cars, then as a traditional car manufacturer I should ask the question: What if electrical cars have 10 times better reach, 10 times more charging stations, charge 10 times quicker then now ?. Would I have a problem with this ? The answer would clearly be yes.
Grove also observes that you only have a chance to survive such inflection points if you start early, so when the old stuff is still selling well. Once the company is in real trouble, then change is much much more difficult.
The final chapter in the book deals with how Grove thought about the internet. One should remind that this book was written in 1997, but it is fascinating how Grove already identified industries which would be badly effected by the internet. He already was aware that for instance a lot of ad revenues would flow from print into the internet. One should not forget that this book was written a year before Google was even founded !!!
Another interesting aspect was that at that time Apple was considered by Grove a failed company as they did not change their vertical business model to a “Horizontal” one. Clearly , mobile was not on his radar screen at that time. As a final observation: Without the great run up in the stock price this year, Intel’s stock would have been more or less flat against the time when Grove stepped down as CEO in 1998. So even a great company as intel might not be a great investment at any price….
Anyway, in my opinion this is a truly great book. I think both, investors and managers can profit a lot from this book. I do like “first person perspective” books a lot, especially if you can compare them against articles and theories about the same company written by other people.
Do you ever feel like, sometimes, things do not feel quite right... maybe your customers aren't behaving the way they used to, or the business isn't working the way it used to... it's as if "the wind has shifted".
This book, written by Andrew Grove, former Chairman and CEO of INTEL Corporation, teaches you how to detect these signals quickly, how to differentiate good signals from noises, and how to muster the courage to quickly change course.
It was written in 1996 but I still find the book highly relevant. Now more than ever, to thrive in our rapidly changing world, we need to learn how to detect and embrace change on a daily basis.
"If you're wrong, you will die. But most companies don't die because they are wrong; most die because they don't commit themselves. They fritter away their momentum and their valuable resources while attempting to make a decision. The greatest danger is in standing still."
Good book. This book was written in 1996, and like anything has started to show its age. The basic messages/ themes still ring true. Although it is funny to read about Apple and Steve Jobs and how they were basically regarded as being left for dead. Now of course, Jobs came back strong and have higher market capitalization than Microsoft. So, I guess the lesson is that this book is good, but you have to still take it with a grain of salt and put it in perspective. My favorite part was when he was talking to another CEO type about the direction of Intel and about getting out of the memory biz an into microprocessors. The idea of walking out of the building and coming back in like you were a brand new manager/ ceo. I think that was the real gem of the book. Highlighting that the best CEO is extremely flexible and creative with the way he/ she thinks. Never be held back by the past, either with situations or your previous thinking. I also really liked the idea of basing decisions of facts and data. At the same time he stresses the importance of data lag and having to make decisions before all the data has been compiled because the world changes so fast and you only get one chance to become the first mover. The biggest flaw for me, in the book, was that some industries don't experience a strategic inflection point that often. I imagine that silicon valley and computer related businesses experience SIP s quite often. So if you are in a business that is slow moving and slow changing, a lot of this book could fall on deaf ears for you.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.