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Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company Paperback – March 16, 1999
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Massive change is hitting corporate America at a furious and escalating pace, writes Andrew Grove in Only the Paranoid Survive, and businesses that strive hard to keep abreast of the transition will be the only ones that prevail. And Grove should know. As chief executive of Intel, he wrestled with one of the business world's great challenges in 1994 when a flaw in his company's new cornerstone product -- the Pentium processor -- grew into a front-page controversy that seriously threatened its future. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Keep looking over your shoulder, cautions Grove, president and CEO of Intel Corporation, because the technology that keeps changing the way businesses are run and careers are forged is on the verge of making every person or company in the world either a co-worker or a competitor. And be warned that there's a pattern to the havoc that forces us to regroup whenever we think we have a grip on things. The pattern is based on a series of revolutionary milestones, inevitable and unpredictable, that Grove calls strategic inflection points. They change things. Every significant development from railroads to superstores to computers has been a point of strategic inflection. Businesses and individuals are never the same once these points zero in to alter the status quo. For Intel, a manufacturer of computer works, a strategic inflection point was the transition from memory chips to microprocessors, and a great deal of this book details the way Intel handled this change, including furor that erupted when a minor flaw was discovered in its Pentium processor. Perhaps the quality that lifts this above other business books is its applicability to individuals.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Grove asked Moore: "If we got kicked out and the Board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?" Moore's quick, no-need-for-thought answer was "he would get us out of memories."
So that's what Grove and Moore did themselves. Until they had played out this odd decision-making device, they did not realize consciously this right answer that would be immediately evident to an outsider. One can take several lessons from this story. The most direct lesson is to ask yourself, when confronted with a seemingly intractable business or personal challenge, what would an outsider with my knowledge but without my "invested capital" choose?
I just finished reading Grove's Only the Paranoid Survive. Though 16 years in the past, Grove's management advice and stories remain worthwhile. I consider the excerpt above to be the best part.
Also see this review at [...] .
1- "Business success contains the seeds of its own destruction. The more successful you are, the more people want a chunk of your business and then another chunk and then another until there is nothing left. I believe that the prime responsibility of a manager is to guard constantly against other people's attacks and to inculcate this guardian attitude in the people under his or her management."
2- "We all need to expose ourselves to the winds of change. We need to expose ourselves to our customers, both the ones who are staying with us as well as those that we may lose by sticking to the past. We need to expose ourselves to lower-level employees, who, when encouraged, will tell us a lot that we need to know. We must invite comments even from people whose job it is to constantly evaluate us and critique us, such as journalist and members of the financial community. Turn the tables and ask them some questions: about competitors, trends in the industry and what they think we should be most concerned with. As we throw ourselves into raw action, our senses and instincts will rapidly be honed again."
3- "A strategic inflection point is when the balance of forces shifts from the old structure, from the old ways of doing business and the old ways of competing, to the new. Before the strategic inflection point, the industry simply was more like the old. After it, it is more like the new. It is a point where the curve has subtly but profoundly changed, never to change back again."
4- "Of all the changes in the forces of competition, the most difficult one to deal with is when one of the forces become so strong that it transforms the very essence of how business is conducted in an industry."
5- "When an industry goes through a strategic inflection point, the practitioners of the old art may have trouble. On the other hand, the new landscape provides an opportunity for people, some of whom may not even be participants in the industry in question, to join and become part of the action."
6- "When a strategic infection point sweeps through the industry, the more successful a participant was in the old industry structure, the more threatened it is by change and the more reluctant it is to adapt to it. Second, whereas the cost to enter a given industry in the face of well-entrenched participants can be very high, when the structure breaks, the cost to enter may become trivially small."
7- "I suspect that the people coming in are probably no better managers or leaders than the people they are replacing. they have only one advantage...the new managers come unencumbered by such emotional involvement and therefore are capable of applying an impersonal logic to the situation."
8- "As these questions to attempt to distinguish signal from noise: 1) Is your key competitor about to change? 2) Is your key complementor about to change? 3) Do people seem to be "losing it" around you?"
9- "I call the divergence between actions and statements strategic dissonance. It is one of the surest indications that a company is struggling with a strategic inflection point."
10- "Ideally, the fear of a new environment sneaking up on us should keep us on our toes. Our sense of urgency should be aided by our judgement, instincts and observations that have been honed by decades spent in the business world. The fact is, because of our experience, very often we managers know that we need to do something. We even know what we should be doing. But we don't trust our instincts or don't act on them early enough to take advantage of the benign business bubble. We must discipline ourselves to overcome our tendency to do too little too late."
I also love how the story isn't one of those "Look at this successful person this is what it's like to be successful don't you want to be successful too" books. I actually read and understood the struggles that Grove faced while working at Intel. It's easy to look at Intel and think that they've been there forever and that they are now predestined to succeed. In reality, Grove's life was no walk in the park. In fact, it was much more like Dark Souls.
Worth every penny you spend buying it and worth every minute you spend reading it. 5 stars.