Book Notes: High Output Management By Andy Grove

August 01, 2022 [books] #management #book-notes


Thanks to a reading group at work I finally got through this book after starting and putting it off multiple times these past six years. The factory analogy at the beginning would always zone me out. There are a few such - in my opinion, forced - analogies in the book, but sticking with it does surface plenty of gems. Thanks to the sheer success of Andy Grove's Intel, none of the insights are surprising since they have become foundational to how every valley company is now run. Grove's framework for running one on ones, how to make meetings useful, thoughts on what makes a manager a manager, managing by objectives, all these are now common place in tech companies (and maybe beyond). It can be argued that all management books written by valley executives these past two decades are downstream of High Output Management. There's almost no fluff here. Grove transformed Bob Noyce's and Gordon Moore's Intel into his own image, rescuing it from certain death at least twice. This book captures Intel's managing principles from the 80s and the 90s that allowed it to survive and thrive. That alone makes it worthwhile for any engineer to read. At the least, it will make concrete some of things you are already thinking of regarding this job that you are doing.

The Intel of 2022 doesn't have the same shine it did during Grove's days. I wonder if these ideas needed a Grove or someone very like him to execute at scale. Entropy is inevitable, but can organizations delay it? Are there any such organizations at all? What went wrong with Intel under his successors? Grove is no longer around to illuminate us, and I would quite like a book that explores and tries to answer some of these questions.


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