Transformation: Swimming Across the Universe

A corporation is a living organism; it has to continue to shed its skin. Methods have to change. Focus has to change. Values have to change. The sum total of those changes is transformation.”  — Andy Grove

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In Memoriam: Andy Grove
2 September 1936 – 21 March 2016

Andy Grove was noted for making sure that important details were never missed.  Having a strategic vision helps in recognizing the important factors.

He had survived by getting things right in the long term and transforming himself.

“By the time I was twenty, I had lived through a Hungarian Fascist dictatorship, German military occupation, the Nazis’ “Final Solution,” the siege of Budapest by the Soviet Red Army, a period of chaotic democracy in the years immediately after the war, a variety of repressive Communist regimes, and a popular uprising that was put down at gunpoint. . . [where] many young people were killed; countless others were interned. Some two hundred thousand Hungarians escaped to the West. I was one of them.

Even though he arrived in the United States with little money and not knowing English, Grove retained a “passion for learning.”  He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the City College of New York in 1960, followed by a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963.

“Probably no one person has had a greater influence in shaping Intel, Silicon Valley, and all we think about today in the technology world than Andy Grove.” — Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware

Grove encouraged the United States to be “vigilant as a nation to have tolerance for difference, a tolerance for new people.” He pointed out that immigration and immigrants are what made America what it is.

Andrew Stephen “Andy” Grove, Mastermind Rational, (born András István Gróf; 2 September 1936 – 21 March 2016) was a Hungarian-born American businessman, engineer, author and a science pioneer in the semiconductor industry. Born into a Jewish family in Budapest, Hungary before World War II, he escaped from Communist-controlled Hungary at the age of 20 and moved to the United States where he finished his education. He was one of the founders and the CEO of Intel Corporation, helping transform the company into the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductors.

“Intel’s first products were dynamic memory chips (DRAM), but within a few years, competition from Japan and decreased demand for DRAM forced Grove to make a radical change to Intel’s core business. He killed the memory business and began manufacturing microprocessors. In hind sight, the move was brilliant. But at the time, this “bet the company” move wasn’t guaranteed to succeed. Thanks partially to this experience, Grove talks a lot about strategic inflection points and how they will make or break a company.”

Although they are highly capable leaders, Masterminds are not at all eager to take command, preferring to stay in the background until others demonstrate their inability to lead. Once they take charge, however, they are thoroughgoing pragmatists. Masterminds are certain that efficiency is indispensable in a well-run organization, and if they encounter inefficiency — any waste of human and material resources — they are quick to realign operations and reassign personnel. Masterminds do not feel bound by established rules and procedures, and traditional authority does not impress them, nor do slogans or catchwords. Only ideas that make sense to them are adopted; those that don’t, aren’t, no matter who thought of them. Remember, their aim is always maximum efficiency. [Please Understand Me II]

Intel Senior Vice President Ron Whittier notes that Grove preferred to keep open channels of communication between employees, and encouraged people to speak their minds: “People here aren’t afraid to speak up and debate with Andy.” They termed this style “constructive confrontation.”  According to Grove’s successor at Intel, Craig Barrett, “It’s give and take, and anyone in the company can yell at him. He’s not above it.” Grove insisted that people be demanding on one another, which fostered an atmosphere of “ruthless intelligence.”

Management by Objective

As director of operations, manufacturing became Grove’s primary focus and his management style relied heavily on his management concepts. As the company expanded and he was appointed chairman, he became more involved in strategic decision-making, including establishing markets for new products, coordinating manufacturing processes and developing new partnerships with smaller companies. He did his best to keep most of Intel’s manufacturing in the U.S., as he was concerned that outsourcing technology limits the experience a company gained to make future breakthroughs.

“You must understand your mistakes. Study the hell out of them. You’re not going to have the chance of making the same mistake again—you can’t step into the river again at the same place and the same time—but you will have the chance of making a similar mistake.”

Opportunity costs in the “American Health Care System”

Other Mastermind Rationals include:  Ed CatmullAyn RandSheryl WudunnSalman Khan,  Susan B AnthonyIssac NewtonSharon PresleyBill GatesMasha Gessen,  Ayaan Hirsi AliRosalind Franklin, and Ulysses S. Grant

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