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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Intel cofounder Andy Grove (1936-2016) remembered for "constructive confrontation" management culture

I only got to meet with the cofounder of Intel Andy Grove a few times as part of a strategic partnership between Intel and the HP division that made instruments used to design and build microprocessors, but I got to see and hear alot about him while living in the Silicon Valley in the 1980's. My friends who worked at Intel told me it was a bare-knuckled work environment where only the strongest and loudest survived.

However, I was still sadden to read Andy Grove's obituary by the a Silicon Valley newspaper reporter, Steve Johnson, "Andy Grove, former Intel CEO and Silicon Valley icon, dies at 79," The Mercury News posted Mar. 22, 2016 - "Born Andras Grof in Budapest, Hungary, on Sept. 2, 1936 -- the only child in a Jewish family of decidedly modest means -- he endured the repressive Nazis and subsequent Soviet occupations of that country and sometimes had to conceal his ancestry to avoid persecution."

Given my insider knowledge of Intel's workplace culture, I was still mildly surprised that Andy Grove's handpicked successor and former Intel CEO Craig Barrett, told the Silicon Valley TV show, "Bloomberg West," (3PM Mar. 22, 2016, Bloomberg TV Comcast Ch. 743) that he credited Andy Grove for leading the important Intel management culture of "constructive confrontation"l, which Barret said is still in place today.

My first brush with this when I took a Stanford business school management training class in the 1980's that used a then topical book by Andy Grove, "High Output Management," Random House, 1983. HP cofounders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard led a different management style that opposed impolite confrontation, but I found that both of these successful businesses had embedded management cultures that worked, though in different ways. In fact, when HP Corporate first starting to lose its way was when management became unwilling to "iterate toward a solution," which was HP-speak for the same idea embodied in Intel's "constructive confrontation."

UUPDATE 3/30/16:

I saw for sale on the newsstands yesterday the magazine Newsweek Special Edition, "The Founding Fathers of Silicon Valley, Exploring 60 Years of Innovation," displayed on newsstands until May 28, 2016. It included pphotos of Bill Hewlett and David Packard in front of their famous garage, and an article showin a photo of Andy Grove at Fairchild Semiconductors, before he left to start Intel, in the article "Tech & Science: The Microchip That Made Silicon Valley -- and All Modern Technology -- Possible," p. 14-24

END UPDATE 3/30/16: