#26/111: Only the Paranoid Survive

What is it about?

How do you change a company? And how do you avoid being overrun by new forces? Andrew S. Grove explains how Intel changed from a semiconductor company to a microcomputing company.

Key points?

Strategic inflection point: Grove defines a strategic inflection point as a point or period in which a force (see Porter five forces analysis) gets 10X stronger. For example, in the 80s, the Japanese memory industry grew very fast and got very cheap. This was a gruesome experience for Intel because they were known as the memory company in the USA.

Always observe your environment: To avoid being overrun by such changes, you should always observe your environment, i.e. your customers, competition, new technology, your suppliers, etc. Only if you can see emerging 10Xs you can act fast enough.

Is it a 10X or isn’t it? There are a lot of changes but which are important? Ask your employees, customers or vendors. Often the CEO is the last one to see a change. If you think that one of these 10X forces isn’t really one, don’t discard it. Observe if it changes and then valuate it again.

Change from top and bottom: You can’t force a change from the top, but also can’t form a cooperate strategy from the bottom. It is important that you use both forces to carry out the essential modifications.


This is a excellent book on changing a company. Andrew Grove recounts his own experiences and don’t try to please everybody. Half of the managers quit the company because they don’t wanted to change. The other 50% had to reeducate themselves. Changing a company isn’t easy and there will be casualties but it’s better than completely vanishing. Clear recommendation!

#13/111: Where Good Ideas Come From

What is it about?

Steve Johnson tries to find an inherit structure in innovation in nature and our life. He explains seven different characteristics of innovation and environments which supports innovation. However he remarks that not all these principles are necessary for innovation!

Key points?

Adjacent possible: Innovation is about widening the existing border of knowledge.

Slow hunch: Most innovation doesn’t happen immediately, rather it is carried out over a long time.

Error: Innovation has a high signal:nose ratio. Generate lots of ideas and fail fast.

Exaptation: Often ideas are useful in an other way, e.g. Gutenberg used wine presses for printing books.

Platforms / Liquid networks: Ideas want to be shared and combined. Create platforms for people and technology (e.g. the web)


One thing is really remarkable. He takes the story of Darwin’s voyage with the Beagle and tells it through the whole book. There are various other stories but this is central theme. This makes this book easy to read and actually exciting! These other stories fit well into his chapters. Although the conclusion wasn’t that good. He tried to support his theory and became too fuzzy.

In conclusion, he has observed the world of innovation doubtlessly well but without execution ideas are nearly worthless.