About the book
Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company, is written by former CEO of Intel Andrew Grove. The book was published on March 16, 1999 and sports a total of 240 pages.
Although Andrew states that he has long forgotten when he started using the phrase “Only the Paranoid Survive.” The phrase has stuck. Yet, Andrew does remember a small mistake during his years as Intel CEO that cost the company around half a billion dollars. This experience is enough for anyone to become paranoid.
In the book Andrew discusses a six forces model that he develop that is somewhat similar to Porters five forces. He then goes on to discuss what he calls the 10x change which is a drastic change in one of those forces that forces a dramatic change in how you play the field. For example Walmart entering a town is a 10x change which forces retailers to specialize or perish. He then draws plenty of examples from the technological world such as IBM and Apple.
He then goes on to discuss his concept of inflection points – these are points where the industry or market will begin changing in a different direction. These changes may never be reversed. For example, for a long time computers were sold directly from manufactures like IBM to customers, the inflection point was when computers were being sold by retailers. Andrew also states that a 10x change could also be the cause of the inflection point.
Andrew grove discusses the concept of Cassandra which he names after the oracle that predicted the fall of try. These Cassandras are people within the company that get the feeling that a massive change is coming – generally these may be middle managers who work closer to the trenches then executives.
Andrew finishes off the book by discussing ways to react to changes and plan so that massive changes does not destroy the organization as well as discussing Intel’s transformation from a RAM manufacturer or a CPU manufacturer.
Key Takeaways and commentary
My takeaways from this book are:
- Environments always change – be prepared for this. In the book Andrew discusses Steve Job’s computer venture NEXT after he had left Apple. NEXT was suppose to be Job’s vision of what Apple should be, however do to the change in environment NEXT couldn’t survive and had to adapt by becoming a software company.
- Cassandras come from any part of the company and will come to you if you are in charge. Always listen to them and create a culture that allows them to come to you with concerns.
- Do not bank on the same formula – again Steve Jobs had wanted to create a second Apple but by this time computer companies and software companies were separate entities.
- Lastly be flexible for changes.
The book was very well written and it gave insights into the tech world that I hadn’t know before. This made the book very enlightening as it not only helped me understand how changes in environment impact companies but also how the tech world has changed and how those companies had changed with it.
All and all this was a very interesting read, very accessible while very insightful.
What do you think? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments and if you found this post useful or enjoyable, please share and leave a like. Thank you! Stay tuned for tomorrows book Leadership Transformed: How Ordinary Managers Become Extraordinary Leaders
For more information on the 2018 challenge, visit the following link: Business Trek 2018 reading challenge.
You can also get the book via the following link: Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company
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