Only the Paranoid Survive – Andrew Grove
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.