#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!

#15/111: The Art of Innovation

What is it about?

The makers of Apple’s first mouse and Palm V talk about inventing new products. Tom Kelly, who is General Manager at IDEO, explains the basic principles of IDEO’s work. Each of these principles is supported by several short anecdotes.

Key points?

Build Hot Teams: The less inertia the better. Let your staff work on projects as project teams. These project teams are Hot Teams if they have one purpose and a defined deadline. After this project the Hot Team is ready to split up and build new teams with other people.

Observe: Watch people using the existing product, to explore what could be improved. What works? What doesn’t? What could be added or removed? Particularly the last one is maybe too hard to answer by its actual users. So, use your knowledge and ideas to find answers.

Brainstorm: Tom Kelly thinks that Brainstorming is more a mindset than an activity. Brainstorm often, freely and without (too much) restrictions.

Prototype:  If you build a new product, you should test it at fast and much as possible. Build some prototype and show them to your customers/boss and ask them what they like and dislike. Using this information build the next prototype and iterate.

Use verbs not nouns: Your product shouldn’t just be a thing, it should be a experience. If you think about Hawaii, you probably think of beaches, sunshine and hula girls. If you think about Volvo, you probably think of safety. It’s a experience, not just a car or an island.


This book is just terrific. Each chapter is full of different stories about the work process and life at IDEO. Furthermore, it is very well written and divided into small sub chapters. If you are a creative person you will love this book. There is so much inspiration and flow and so little bureaucracy and rules.