Only the Paranoid Survive: Lessons From Andy Grove, former Intel CEO
Andy Grove was one man who was respected by both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. There are very few people in the world who you can say that about. Andy Grove was the legendary Intel CEO, who made the company what it is today – a microprocessor behemoth. Only the Paranoid Survive was a book written by Andy Grove in 1997, which explains his business philosophy. There are many terrific business lessons to be found in this book, which we are going to tell you about.
Know Your Inflection Points...
Andy Grove introduced the concept of “inflection points” with his book. An inflection point is a point where you know that the industry in which your business operates in, has changed so profoundly that you can either change your business completely as well, or get killed by your competitors. In particular, Grove’s philosophy was inspired by how he changed things at Intel completely around the early 1980s. Back then, Intel was the world’s biggest manufacturer of memory chips.
But suddenly, because of innovations in memory chip manufacturing, several Japanese firms got into the business as well, making cheaper memory chips that were just as good. Andy Grove as the CEO of Intel did something unthinkable – he got his company off its main source of revenue and invested every bit of resources to attempt something completely new – microprocessors. We all know what happened later, as Intel became one of the biggest success stories in the technology business – all because Intel’s CEO was aware of a threat and decided to change his business completely.
Create a Moat Around Your Business
Size does matter in technology and Andy Grove always believed in creating a large moat around his business. The biggest advantage Intel had in its fight for the top position in the microprocessor business against its main rival AMD was its massive size. Grove built upon that, and literally bullied AMD into meek submission. These days, companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook follow the philosophy laid out by Grove in his book.
Importance of Being Paranoid...
Grove was always alive to the threat of a newcomer to his business. Every time he heard of a start-up that came out with something highly innovative, he asked himself, is the new technology or product 10x times faster, bigger or better than what his company does? If so, then it is reason not just to be concerned, but to do something about it. Grove believed in the power of being paranoid, always worrying about what the competition was up to. But he didn’t stop at being paranoid, he believed in taking action, doing something about it, staying ahead of times and winning at all cost, even if it meant changing even his company’s core areas of business.
Don’t Wait for the Challenge to Get Bigger...
Grove believed that the only way to survive an inflection point was to start early. Don’t wait for the challenge to become any bigger, don’t the threat posed by the competition even though it appears negligible right now. Do something about it. Change when things look good, because it will be much harder to change when your business is in trouble.
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