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Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company
 
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Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company [Format Kindle]

Andrew S. Grove
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I'm often credited with the motto, "Only the paranoid survive." I have no idea when I first said this, but the fact remains that, when it comes to business, I believe in the value of paranoia.  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.

The things I tend to be paranoid about vary.  I worry about products getting screwed up, and I worry about products getting introduced prematurely.  I worry about factories not performing well, and I worry about having too many factories.  I worry about hiring the right people, and I worry about morale slacking off.

And, of course, I worry about competitors. I worry about other people figuring out how to do what we do better or cheaper, and displacing us with our customers.

But these worries pale in comparison to how I feel about what I call strategic inflection points.

I'll describe what a strategic inflection point is a bit later in this book. For now, let me just say that a strategic inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change.  That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights.  But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end.

Strategic inflection points can be caused by technological change but they are more than technological change.  They can be caused by competitors but they are more than just competition.  They are scale changes in the way business is conducted, so that simply adopting new technology or fighting the competition as you used to may be insufficient.  They build up force so insidiously that you may have a hard time even putting a finger on what has changed, yet you know that something has.

Let's not mince words: A strategic inflection point can be deadly when unattended to.  Companies that begin a decline as a result of its changes rarely recover their previous greatness.

But strategic inflection points do not always lead to disaster.  When the way business is being conducted changes, it creates opportunities for players who are adept at operating in the new way.  This can apply to newcomers or to incumbents, for whom a strategic inflection point may mean an opportunity for a new period of growth.

You can be the subject of a strategic inflection point but you can also be the cause of one.  Intel, where I work, has been both.  In the mid-eighties, the Japanese memory producers brought upon us an inflection point so overwhelming that it forced us out of memory chips and into the relatively new field of microprocessors.  The microprocessor business that we have dedicated ourselves to has since gone on to cause the mother of all inflection points for other companies, bringing very difficult times to the classical mainframe computer industry.  Having both been affected by strategic inflection points and having caused them, I can safely say that the former is tougher.

I've grown up in a technological industry.  Most of my experiences are rooted there.  I think in terms of technological concepts and metaphors, and a lot of my examples in this book come from what I know.  But strategic inflection points, while often brought about by the workings of technology, are not restricted to technological industries.

The fact that an automated teller machine could be built changed banking.  If interconnected inexpensive computers can be used in medical diagnosis and consulting, it may change medical care.  The possibility that all entertainment content can be stored, transmitted and displayed in digital form may change the entire media industry.  In short, strategic inflection points are about fundamental change in any business, technological or not.

We live in an age in which the pace of technological change is pulsating ever faster, causing waves that spread outward toward all industries.  This increased rate of change will have an impact on you, no matter what you do for a living.  It will bring new competition from new ways of doing things, from corners that you don't expect.

It doesn't matter where you live.  Long distances used to be a moat that both insulated and isolated people from workers on the other side of the world.  But every day, technology narrows that moat inch by inch.  Every person in the world is on the verge of becoming both a coworker and a competitor to every one of us, much the same as our colleagues down the hall of the same office building are.  Technological change is going to reach out sooner or later change something fundamental in your business world.

Are such developments a constructive or a destructive force?  In my view, they are both.  And they are inevitable.  In technology, whatever can be done will be done.  We can't stop these changes.  We can't hide from them. Instead, we must focus on getting ready for them.

The lessons of dealing with strategic inflection points are similar whether you're dealing with a company or your own career.

If you run a business, you must recognize that no amount of formal planning can anticipate such changes.  Does that mean you shouldn't plan? Not at all.  You need to plan the way a fire department plans: It cannot anticipate where the next fire will be, so it has to shape an energetic and efficient team that is capable of responding to the unanticipated as well as to any ordinary event. Understanding the nature of strategic inflection points and what to do about them will help you safeguard your company's wellbeing.  It is your responsibility to guide your company out of harm's way and to place it in a position where it can prosper in the new order.  Nobody else can do this but you.

If you are an employee, sooner or later you will be affected by a strategic inflection point.  Who knows what your job will look like after cataclysmic change sweeps through your industry and engulfs the company you work for? Who knows if your job will even exist and, frankly, who will care besides you?

Until very recently, if you went to work at an established company, you could assume that your job would last the rest of your working life.  But when companies no longer have lifelong careers themselves, how can they provide one for their employees?

As these companies struggle to adapt, the methods of doing business that worked very well for them for decades are becoming history.  Companies that have had generations of employees growing up under a no-layoff policy are now dumping 10,000 people onto the street at a crack.

The sad news is, nobody owes you a career.  Your career is literally your business.  You own it as a sole proprietor.  You have one employee: yourself. You are in competition with millions of similar businesses: millions of other employees all over the world.  You need to accept ownership of your career, your skills and the timing of your moves.  It is your responsibility to protect this personal business of yours from harm and to position it to benefit from the changes in the environment.  Nobody else can do that for you.

Having been a manager at Intel for many years, I've made myself a student of strategic inflection points.  Thinking about them has helped our business survive in an increasingly competitive environment.  I'm an engineer and a manager, but I have always had an urge to teach, to share with others what I've figured out for myself.  It is that same urge that makes me want to share the lessons I've learned.

This book is not a memoir.  I am involved in managing a business and deal daily with customers and partners, and speculate constantly about the intentions of competitors.  In writing this book, I sometimes draw on observations I have made through such interactions.  But these encounters didn't take place with the notion that they would make it into any public arena.  They were business discussions that served a purpose for both Intel and others' businesses, and I have to respect that.  So please forgive me if some of these stories are camouflaged in generic descriptions and  anonymity.  It can't be helped.

What this book is about is the impact of changing rules.  It's about finding your way through uncharted territories.  Through examples and reflections on my and others' experiences, I hope to raise your awareness of what it's like to go through cataclysmic changes and to provide a framework in which to deal with them.  

As I said, this book is also about careers.  As business are created on new foundations or are restructured to operate in a new environment, careers are broken or accelerated.  I hope this book will give you some ideas of how you can shepherd your career through these difficult times.

Let's start by parachuting into the middle of a strategic inflection point, when something is changing in a big way, when something is different, yet when you're so busy trying to survive that the significance of the change only becomes clear in retrospect.  Painful as it is, let me relive the story of a problem that Intel had with our flagship device, the Pentium processor, in the fall of 1994.

Revue de presse

"Probably the best book on business written by a business person since
Alfred Sloan's My Years with General Motors."
--Forbes

"This terrific book is dangerous...It will make people think."
--Peter Drucker

"This book is about one super-important concept. You must learn about Strategic Inflection Points, because sooner or later you are going to live through one."
--Steve Jobs, CEO, Pixar Animation Studios

"Andy explains--with modesty that cannot conceal his brilliance, how he has led Intel through changes and challenges that many companies could not cope with...The country will benefit from his vision."
--Reed Hundt, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission

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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Livre génial par un homme génial 2 mars 2009
Format:Broché
Un livre facile à lire, bien documenté et illustré d'exemple concrets.
Ce livre aide à mieux apréhender et mieux "sentir" les évolutions du monde qui nous entoure.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Plus que recommandable: INDISPENSABLE! 6 octobre 2012
Format:Broché
J'en suis à ma 3ème lecture. La 1ère avait eu lieu en 1997, peu après la sortie du livre. Et c'est toujours un plaisir renouvelé... Des mots simples pour décrire des situations de management parfois complexes, et qui, en tout état de cause, ont besoin d'être traduites simplement pour que l'analyse des positions stratégiques d'une entreprise puisse avoir lieu et porter ses fruits! Encore bravo, Andy!!! :-)
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 bien mais 14 janvier 2011
Par loulou
Format:Broché
correcte en ce qui concerne le livre.
Mais, le contenu de ce livre parait parfois de la vieille école.
lol
Mais, recommandé:)
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Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  98 commentaires
47 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A business success story 3 mars 2003
Par Craig Wood - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Like many popular management books, Andy Grove's "Only the Paranoid Survive" is unlikely to knock your socks off with its insightful business advice. Rather, the book is chock full of common sense, backed up with case studies from the world of successful -- and not so successful -- American businesses. Although Grove wrote this book during the early days of the Internet bubble, he clearly did not get wrapped up in the all of the excitement of that era, much to his credit. His thoughts are measured, sensible and coldly rational, as befits an industry titan and the ex-CEO of the most successful chip company on the planet.
If you haven't read this book, now is as good a time to do so as any. Today's readers have the benefit of knowing how technology and business have evolved since "Only the Paranoid Survive" was published in 1996. The seven years that have since elapsed reveal that Grove really knows what he's talking about. His understanding of how the Internet would affect Intel underscores his management prescience. And his skepticism regarding gee-whiz technological innovations like "Internet appliances" provides an interesting example of how Intel maintained its strategic focus, and emerged from the bubble as strong as ever.
"Only the Paranoid Survive" breaks no new ground in the business-management genre. But the book is well written, well organized, and well worth the read for those who want a glimpse inside the mind of an incomparable American success story.
25 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great advice for an uncertain age 30 novembre 2005
Par Robert J. Crawford - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Intel was one of the pioneers of Silicon Valley, one of a handful of household brand name companies that helped to create, and constantly reshape, the information technology landscape in the US, and the rest of the high-tech world. Andrew Grove was at the center of this company from its inception, and this is his story in his own words.

The information-economy industry, unlike the giant manufacturers such as GM that faced more stable markets, was singularly brutal and fast-changing. Roughly every eighteen months, newly minted microprocessor chips arrived with double the circuit density of the preceding generation, increasing both their capacity and speed. For decades, Intel had been an exemplar of success, assessed in 1998 as the third most valuable company in the world by market capitalization. Known for their loyalty and hard work, virtually all Intel employees shared in the ownership of the company via stock options.

Nonetheless, the company's success was constantly portrayed internally as tenuous and hard-won: in the mid-1980s, facing ferocious Japanese competition in the memory chip market segment, Intel re-engineered itself, focusing instead on the emerging microprocessor market segment. This is the core of Grove's book, and is a remarkable achievement - I vividly still recall how, in the late 1980s, we thought Japan was going to take over the PC industry - and it was Grove and his team that did it.

To do so, Grove engineered Intel's corporate culture so that it melded "control-freak management" with creative chaos: anyone could compete in an open, yet authoritarian "culture of innovation." As a symbol of this, Intel Chairman Grove continued to work in a cubicle alongside everyone else, but he reveled in challenging employees down to the smallest detail, which included the correction of grammar in the memos sent to him. To promote equality of access as well as economies of scale, Intel's offices and chip-manufacturing facilities ("fabs" in the industry jargon) were virtually indistinguishable world-wide; all the walls were one color, cubicles identical in size, even the same vocabulary permeated company meetings from Taiwan to the U.S. This "copy exact" uniformity provided security for customers and helped in problem solving; should the defect rate appear high at one facility, it allowed the engineers to call any of the other facilities for advice; in effect, they could discuss identical processes with great precision, which was a key to the quality and reliability of Intel chips. Another aspect of the company's culture was its "paranoia," that is, its obsessive attention to the demands of the market and to the actions of competitors.

If this sounds like a tough place to work, it certainly was. I interviewed several employees there, who emphasized the "sink or swim" nature of the place: you either found a way to create value, or soon you were out. One of them described it like his stint in the Green Berets, when they are "plunked down in the middle of the chaos of war...You have an overall strategic goal...with near-complete freedom to find whatever works best to push towards that goal. It's like we accept the rules of the game and the parameters within which we communicate and compete. But inside the circle, virtually anything goes." It was a competitive meritocracy per excellence.

Not only can this culture (paranoid, chaotic yet authoritarian, and ultra-competitive) serve as a paradigm - I know, that word is over-used - for other industries, but it is a key to the astounding creativitiy that has emerged in some American companies since the days of the "Japanese challenge". And Grove's company not only symbolized many of these innovations but drove them.

Warmly recommended as a must for all students of business.
31 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Enriching Personal Real-Life Account by Someone Who Had Managed a Mega-Size Corporation!!! 20 mars 2007
Par Amy Ong - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
The real value of this book is that it is written by someone, Andrew Grove, who has actual experiences and managed a start-up right up to a mega successful corporation. There are tons of management and marketing books written by people, based on case-studies and analysis, but lack actual experiences managing or working in a corporation.

The main concept of this book is on strategic inflection point, which is a time in the life of the business when its fundamentals are about to change. This change can either infer an opportunity to rise to new heights or signal the beginning of the end. Hence, this book is about the impact of changing rules, guidelines to assist in identifying those situations and about finding your way through those uncharted territories. This book serves to raise our awareness of going through cataclysmic changes and to provide a framework in which to deal with them.

This book uses Porter's competitive analysis strategy in terms of the 6 forces as a base. The 6 forces are

1. Power, vigor and competence of existing competitors

2. Power, vigor and competence of complementors

3. Power, vigor and competence of customers

4. Power, vigor and competence of suppliers

5. Power, vigor and competence of potential competitors

6. Power, vigor and competence of substitutes

Once a very large change happens in one or several of these 6 forces, a "10X" force is in effect. Very often the transition from a normal business environment to that of a "10X" business environment is very gradual and thus, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact time in which the "10X" force came about. Strategic inflection point comes about when this balance of forces shifts from the normal environment to that of the new "10X" environment and it is difficult to pinpoint its exact occurrence.

The circumstances that help to identify this strategic inflection point are

1. Presence of troubling sense that something is different such as changes in customers' attitudes, entrant of new competitors, etc.

2. Growing dissonance or misalignment between corporate statements and operation actions.

3. Emergence of new framework or actions.

4. New set of corporate statements is generated.

Andrew gave an analogy of working your way though a strategic inflection point to be just like venturing into the valley of death, the perilous transition between the old and the new environments. It is difficult to know the right moment to execute the appropriate actions. Since timing is everything, it is attractive to undertake these changes when the company is in a healthy financial state. This means "acting when not everything is known, when the data aren't in.", merely relying on "instinct and personal judgments" (Chapt 2). Hence it is a matter of training your instincts to pick up a different set of signals.

The only way we know whether a change signals a strategic inflection point is through the process of clarification that comes from broad and intensive debate. This debate should involve technical discussions, marketing discussions and considerations of strategic repercussions (how will it affect our business if we make a dramatic move; how will it affect if we don't?). The more complex the issues are, the more levels of management should be involved because people from different levels of management bring completely different points of view and expertise. The debate should involve people from outside the company, customers and partners with different areas of expertise and interests. When dealing with emerging trends, you may very well have to go against rational extrapolation of data and rely instead on anecdotal observations and your instincts. (chapter 6). Constructively debating tough issues and getting somewhere is only possible when people can speak their minds without fear of punishment.

Andrew offers a few guidelines to discern "signal" from "noise"

1. Is your key competitor about to change? Suggested using the "silver bullet test": If you had just one bullet, whom among your many competitors would you save it for? When the answer to this question stops being as crystal clear, it is time to sit up and pay special attention.

2. Is your key complementor about to change? Does the company that in the past years mattered the most to your business seem less important today? Does it look like another company is about to eclipse them? If so, it may be a sign of shifting industry dynamics.

3. Does it seem that people who for years had been very competent have suddenly gotten decoupled from what really matters? If key aspects of the business shift around us, the very process that got us where we were might retard your ability to recognize the new trends.

Generally you cannot judge the significance of the strategic inflection point by the quality of the first version or release of the product. You will need to draw on your experiences to discern its possible impacts.

Strategic dissonance is the divergence between actions and statements; saying one thing and doing another. Strategic dissonance is an automatic reaction to a strategic inflection point that probing for it is perhaps the best test of one.

Clarity of direction, which includes describing what we are going after, as well as, describing what we will not be going after, is exceedingly important at the late stage of a strategic transformation. This book defines strategic plans as statements of what we intend to do, whereas strategic actions as steps we have already taken or are taking. Strategic plans are abstract and are usually couched in language meant for the company's management. Strategic actions matter because they immediately affect people's lives. The most effective way to transform a company is through a series of incremental changes that are consistent with a clearly articulated end result.

This book mentions the "Taillight" approach - some companies may profitably wait for others to test the limits of technological possibilities or market acceptance and then commit to following, catching up and passing them.

A question that often comes up at times of strategic transformation is whether you should pursue a highly focused approach, betting everything on one strategic goal or should you hedge. It takes every erg of energy in your organization to do a good job pursuing one strategic aim, especially in the face of aggressive and competent competition. It is hard to lead the organization out of the valley of death without a clear and simple strategic direction. Demoralized organizations are unlikely to be able to deal with multiple objectives. Thus, hedging is expensive and dilutes commitment, and is not recommended.

"Most companies don't die because they are wrong; most die because they don't commit themselves... The greatest danger is in standing still" (Chapter 8).

The leader needs to show interest in the elements leading to the strategic direction, by getting involved in details that are appropriate to the new direction and by withdrawing attention, energy and involvement from those things that do not fit. At times like this, the calendar is the most important strategic tools in communication. Andrew emphasizes that communicating strategic change in an interactive exposed fashion is important and necessary such as corporate email announcements and meetings, etc.

Companies that successfully navigate through strategic inflection points tend to have a good dialectic between bottom-up and top-down actions. Bottom-up actions come from the ranks of middle managers, who by the nature of their jobs are exposed to the first whiffs of the winds of change, who are located at the peripheral of the action where change is first perceived and who catch on early. But by the nature of their work, they can only affect things locally. Their actions must meet halfway the actions generated by senior management. While those managers are isolated from the winds of change, but once they commit themselves to a new direction, they can affect the strategy of the entire organization. The best results seem to prevail when bottom-up and top-down actions are equally strong. When the top management lets go a little, the bottom-up actions will drive towards chaos by experimenting, by pursuing different product strategies, by generally pulling the company in a multiplicity of directions. After such creative chaos reigns and a direction becomes clear, it is up to senior management to reign in chaos. A pendulum-like swing between the 2 types of actions is the best way to work your way through a strategic transformation. What is needed is a balanced interaction between the middle managers, with their deep knowledge but narrow focus and senior management, whose larger perspective could set a context.

An organization that has a culture that can deal with these 2 phases - debate (chaos reign) and a determined march (chaos reined in) is a powerful, adaptive organization. Such an organization has 2 important attributes:

1. It tolerates and even encourages debates. These debates are vigorous, devoted to exploring issues, indifferent to rank and include individuals of varied backgrounds.

2. It is capable of making and accepting clear decisions, with the entire organization then supporting the decision.

This book emphasizes on the concepts by reliving a few of Intel's crisis; the mid-80s shift from memory to microprocessors business, RISC vs CISC architecture and during the fall of 1994 the floating point bug associated with Intel's flagship device; the Pentium processor. The magnitude of this crisis is so significant in that a tiny flaw in the microprocessor's floating point unit could mushroom into half a billion dollars' worth of damage in less than 6 weeks. This was later narrowed down to 2 key factors. First the success of Intel's merchandising "Intel Inside" program, which has projected a strong Intel image right to the end-user, became a double-edge sword in that end users directly contact Intel for a replacement microprocessor. In a normal incidence, it is likely to be the computer manufacturers who will perform the recall and replacement. But Intel's identity is so strong with the end-users that they became the ones asking for a recall and replacement. Second, the other factor is attributed to Intel's sheer size. Intel had become gigantic in the eyes of the computer buyers. And thus the huge cost in replacement.

This book also relates the transition of the computer industry in the 80s vertical alignment to that in the 90s; the horizontal alignment. This came about with the appearance of the microprocessor and then the personal computer. The "10X" force came about when the technology permitted the integration of several chips into one single chip and this same microprocessor enabled the production of all kinds of personal computers. As the microprocessor became the basic building block, economics of mass production worked its charm giving extremely cost-effective PCs. Over time, this changed the entire structure of the industry and a new horizontal industry emerged. As a result of this trend, companies previously successful in the vertical alignment, but who failed to adapt or recognize this "10X" force failed and no longer existed today. Examples are Wang and Cray. At the same time, this change also spelled opportunities for new entrants such as Dell and Compaq. Thus when an industry goes through a strategic inflection point, the practitioners of the old industry may have trouble, while on the other hand, this new environment provides opportunities for new entrants into this industry.

The key characteristics of horizontal industries is that they live and die by mass production and mass marketing, bringing cost-effective solutions and more specialization, i.e the best in class for that particular market segment such as TV monitors, memory, storage devices, etc.

The new rules of the horizontal industry are

1. Do not differentiate without a difference. Do not introduce improvements whose only purpose is to give you an advantage over your competitor without giving your customer a substantial advantage. Example is a "better PC" departed from the mainstream standard and hence giving rise to software incompatibility.

2. Grab opportunity when there is a technology break or change coming along.

3. Price for what the market will bear. Price for volume. Work like the devil on your costs so that it becomes profitable. This leads to economies of scale whereby by being a large-volume supplier, you can spread and recoup those costs. In contrast, cost-based pricing will often lead you into a niche position.

To be a leader or survivor in a horizontal and commoditized industry, this book provides some food for thought. A prime example is Intel exiting the commoditized memory industry in which they were once in the lead, until the entrance of the Japanese manufacturers.
21 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Candid and truthfull 14 mai 2000
Par Naomi Moneypenny - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This book is an enjoyable read that is written by the CEO of Intel, this book is noteworthy in that it describes in detail a rare event: the successful change in business models of an already large and successful company. Grove describes the influences of the overall business environment (and in particular addresses the concept of a "strategic inflection point"), the political dynamics and drama within Intel, and a candid view of what went on in his own head as Intel faced a crisis that could well have ended in disaster rather than triumph. Grove does a great service to other executives by reflecting on what he learned from this and related events at Intel. There is much to learn from here.
9 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 On my XMas List for Every Sr. Eecutive 6 décembre 1999
Par diamond6@gte.net - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I would love to give this book to every senior executive I've ever worked for. The gap between what sr. management sees and what really happens in the field or on the front lines has perplexed me for decades. This book clearly explains why the gap is there and what management should do to overcome this problem that could put the company out of business.
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strategic inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change. &quote;
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You need to plan the way a fire department plans: It cannot anticipate where the next fire will be, so it has to shape an energetic and efficient team that is capable of responding to the unanticipated as well as to any ordinary event. &quote;
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One, dont differentiate without a difference. Dont introduce improvements whose only purpose is to give you an advantage over your competitor without giving your customer a substantial advantage. &quote;
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