What would our successors do?

Decisions Comments

In the 1970s, Intel was one of the main manufacturers of the memory. However, by the end of the 1970s a couple of Japanese competitors had emerged and by the early 1980s, the company’s competitive position in the memory business came under serious threat. Meanwhile, a small team at Intel had developed another product, the microprocessor, and slowly it was starting to get more traction.

In 1985, the president of Intel - Andy Grove along with the CEO Gordon Moore, faced with a tough dilemma - whether to revive the company’s dying memory business or to kill it and completely focus on the rising business of processors. After almost a year of fruitless debate, Andy had an inspiration. He looked out the window at the Ferris Wheel of the Great America Amusement Park revolving in the distance, then he turned back to Gordon and asked -

“If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?”

Gordon answered without hesitation, “He would get us out of memories.” Andy stared at him, numb, then said, “Why shouldn’t you and I walk out the door, come back in, and do it ourselves?”

This was the moment of clarity. From the perspective of an outsider, someone not encumbered by the historical legacy and the political infighting, shutting down the memory business was the obvious thing to do. The switch in perspectives— What would our successors do? — helped Gordon and Andy see the big picture clearly.

Gordon Moore and Andy Grove

source - Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Kaushik Rangadurai

Code. Learn. Explore

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