What I learned from the man who built Intel

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At Crossover, Andy Tryba (CEO) is running monthly book club meetings. People from all around the world are virtually getting together for a casual 30 mins meeting where we discuss the book of the month. It’s always fascinating to see how people learn and remember different things from the same book.

In this post, I’m going to share my notes from the High Output Management book written by Andy Grove, co-founder and legendary CEO of Intel.

If you didn’t read this one yet, please do and share your thoughts with me.

  1. Any measurement is better than no measurement
  2. Unless you’re prepared on how to act based on indicators, all you will get is anxiety
  3. Substandard material will cause an unreliable product and make you lose customer trust
  4. Higher frequency of monitoring always contributes to the overall quality at work
  5. We are creatures of habit, tend to create comfort zones
  6. London Embassy problem, replacing their present scheme with a quality assurance test, sampling, and bulk visa idea. A great example of handling high volume and focusing on what really matters
  7. Productivity is the output divided by the labor required to produce, intro to the concept of leverage
  8. High output productivity = High leverage activities
  9. Automation is key for high leverage
  10. Leverage through work simplification
  11. Number of steps towards production, the question is why, (eliminate tradition, former process, etc)
  12. It’s hard to distinguish output and activity for management
  13. Definition of Managers should be broadened, ICs can be mid-level managers
  14. Manager’s work is important but does not create output, their organizations do
  15. Being a role model, no single managerial activity translates to leadership, leadership is doing things visibly, a manager should act publicly
  16. More money can always be made available, more time is not
  17. Getting together with others is a medium, you must choose the most effective medium for leverage
  18. Having many people getting affected by a manager is a great sample of high leverage management
  19. Work done before the meeting has great leverage, leverage tied to timeliness
  20. Some managerial activities can reduce the leverage too
  21. Each time a manager imports knowledge into his group is leverage
  22. You won’t delegate some tasks just because you like doing them, bad managerial decision, low leverage
  23. Delegation without follow-through is abdication. You can never wash your hands from a task
  24. Start from delegating the work you know the best, against your emotions
  25. Managers should go into details randomly, for quality assurance, rest of quality assurance should be automated to generate indicators
  26. A large portion of managerial work can be forecasted, mindless passivity of the calendar management is poisonous. Calendars are for productivity not for incoming meeting requests. A production planning tool. Learn how to say no. Say no and say no earlier
  27. Your time is your one finite resource, not money
  28. There’s an optimum degree of loading, categorize raw eggs and eggs in the boiler (breakfast factory analogy from the beginning of the book, value and timeliness is more important for the eggs in the boiler, raw eggs are storable)
  29. The ideal number of subordinates for a manager should be six-to-eight tops, less than six leads to a lack of leverage and more than six leads to a lack of management
  30. If it’s below six, think about connecting all to yourself and encourage one to take more responsibility at the same level
  31. Strive for regularity. Same blocks of time must be set for macro-management, avoiding scheduling conflicts
  32. Hiding for deep working may not be useful -if- interrupters are important people delivering important information
  33. Batching interruptions, answering in structure may be useful. Usually, interrupters have legitimate problems
  34. Sharing information and making decisions mostly happens in the meetings
  35. One on one meetings are the key to success, still not very common
  36. How much experience do the subordinates have with the task? Less experienced subordinates should get more frequent one on ones with their managers
  37. One on one meetings should happen near the subordinates’ work environment for the manager to learn more. “Come to me” is not a great option. The remote equivalent of this can be subordinate sharing screen during one on one meetings
  38. Good managers do not talk about the manager’s problems, focus on subordinate’s problems during one on ones
  39. Both parties should take notes, and compare. A virtual handshake and as a reminder for the next one on one
  40. What is the leverage of a one on one meetings? Improvements survive over the hours, days, weeks and manager’s learning may help many other subordinates
  41. A group meeting should include anything that affects more than 2 people in the room
  42. A staff meeting should never be used for lecturing… It is the fastest way of undermining
  43. Meeting decks should have 4 mins for visuals, not more. Otherwise, charts get flipped and the real messages get buried
  44. Lack of interest undermines the confidence of the presenter, do not join a meeting if you’re not going to pay attention
  45. Just like you wouldn’t allow an employee to steal $2K equipment from the office don’t let random group meeting requests
  46. It’s very important for people to receive meeting minutes fast before they start forgetting
  47. Distribution of managerial authority based on knowledge. Interesting relationship between knowledge powered people and position powered people
  48. Intel saw mixing knowledge powered people and position powered people as a matter of its survival
  49. Peers tend to look for a more senior manager in the room. Fear of going against the group is always there. They mostly believe taking a position is too risky for them. Some of them suffering from the fear of being overruled especially among the junior employees
  50. Making your own decisions is great but not sustainable in a team environment especially if all the other members are trying to do the same; making their own decisions
  51. What my process is producing now and what my process should produce in a year. What happens between requires planning
  52. Use same currency and terms to avoid confusion and errors
  53. Do not plan too often, give yourself time to judge your actions
  54. If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll not get there
  55. Airport analogy, town 1, town 2, town 3 as steps, gaining an opportunity for making decisions before arriving at the airport based on time slices between steps
  56. Nesting hierarchy of objectives. Spain and Colombus analogy, how well individuals are doing matters
  57. Centralization and Decentralization Dichotomy — Note to myself, read more on this
  58. Management is not a team game, it’s a team game of teams
  59. Grove’s law; All large organizations with a common business purpose end up with a hybrid organizational form.
  60. Expectations can be as binding as a legal contract at work
  61. Belief and faith are not market values, are a part of the culture
  62. A team will perform only as well as the individuals in it
  63. The single most important task of managers is to get peak performance from their subordinates
  64. In any environment, better motivation means more performance
  65. The motivation at work was mostly based on fear of punishment
  66. Fear won’t work as well for a computer architect as with galley slaves. Hence new approaches to motivation Andy Grove needed
  67. Andy’s description of what makes people perform relies heavily on Abraham Maslow’s theory of motivation. Simply because his own observations confirm Maslow’s approach
  68. If we are to create and maintain a high degree of motivation, we must keep some needs unsatisfied at all times
  69. People, of course, tend to have a variety of concurrent needs. One among them is always stronger than others, that need is the one that largely determines individual motivation. Maslow defines needs on a hierarchy
  70. Physiological needs are buyable. Fear may work at this level
  71. Highest level of needs, “What I can be, I must be” for knowledge workers. Keep this in mind, from Maslow
  72. Highest level of needs work in two levels; confidence-driven or achievement-driven. While violinist or skater is a great example of confidence-driven, testing their limits to achieve something defines achievement-driven people
  73. Slightly unreachable tasks are the key to exploiting and motivating achievers in order to produce more business results
  74. A Ph.D. knowing everything — in theory — should get some credit but a junior engineer who applies and makes things happen should get more credits

As a big believer of global talent, I read a bit more about his personal story after finishing the audiobook.

Andy Grove was originally Hungarian, and he immigrated to the U.S. at an early age. In his career, he coached many multi-billion-dollar companies, wrote two books such as High Output Management and Only the Paranoid Survive which shaped the thought system of many entrepreneurs around the world.

Was he the last hard-working, successful individual Hungary has to offer? I doubt it. I personally know at least one or two extraordinary people from there. Any competitive business out there should embrace global talent.

This article first appeared on Medium.