Only the Paranoid Survive

How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company and Career

Andrew S. Grove

Publisher: Doubleday, 1996, 210 pages

ISBN: 0-385-48258-2

Keywords: Leadership, Strategy

Last modified: July 18, 2021, 1:31 a.m.

Under Andy Grove's leadership, Intel has become the world's largest chipmaker, the fifth-most-admired company in America, and the seventh-most-profitable company among the Fortune 500. You don't achieve rankings like these unless you have mastered a rare understanding of the art of business and an unusual way with its practice.

Few CEOs can claim this level of consistent record-breaking success. Grove attributes much of this success to the philosophy and strategy he reveals in Only the Paranoid Survive — a book that is unique in leadership annals for offering a bold new business measure, and for taking the reader deep inside the workings of a major corporation. Grove's contribution to business thinking concerns a new way of measuring the nightmare moment every leader dreads — the moment when massive change occurs and all bets are off. The success you had the day before is gone, destroyed by unforeseen changes that hit like a stage-six rapid. Grove calls such moments Strategic Inflection Points, and he has lived through several. When SlPs hit, all rules of business shift fast, furiously, and forever. SlPs can be set off by almost anything — megacompetition, an arcane change in regulations, or a seemingly modest change in technology.

Yet in the watchful leader's hand, SlPs can be an ace. Managed right, a company can turn a SIP into a positive force to win in the marketplace and emerge stronger than ever.

To achieve that level of mastery over change, you must know its properties inside and out. Grove addresses questions such as these: What are the stages of these tidal waves? What sources do you turn to in order to foresee dangers before trouble announces itself? When threats abound, how do you deal with your emotions, your calendar, your career — as well as with your most loyal managers and customers, who may cling to tradition?

No stranger to risk, Grove examines his own record of success and failure, including the drama of how he navigated the events of the Pentium flaw, which threatened Intel in a major way, and how he is dealing with the SIP brought on by the Internet. The work of a lifetime of reflection, Only the Paranoid Survive is a contemporary classic of leadership skills.

  • Preface: Only the Paranoid Survive
    "Sooner or later, something fundamental in your business world will change."
  1. Something Changed
    "New rules prevailed now — and they were powerful enough to cost us nearly half a billion dollars."
    • What Happened to Us
    • "That Guy Is Always the Last to Know"
  2. A "10X" Change
    "What such a transition does to a business is profound, and how the business manages this transition determines its future."
    • The Six Forces Affecting a Business
    • A "10X" Force
    • The Strategic Inflection Point
  3. The Morphing of the Computer Industry
    "Not only has the basis of computing changed, the basis of competition has changed too."
    • Before the Strategic Inflection Point
    • After the Strategic Inflection Point
    • Winners and Losers
    • The New Rules of the Horizontal Industry
  4. They're Everywhere
    "Strategic inflection points are not a phenomenon of the high-tech industry, nor are they something that only happens to the other guy."
    • "10X" Change: Competition
      • Wal-Mart: An overwhelming force in town
      • Next: The software company
    • "10X" Change: Technology
      • Sound takes over silent movies
      • Upheaval in the shipping industry
      • The PC revolution: A tale of denial
    • "10X" Change: Customers
      • Changing tastes in cars
      • Attitude shifts
      • The double whammy in supercomputers
    • "10X" Change: Suppliers
      • Airlines flex their muscles
      • The end of second sourcing
    • "10X" Change: Complementors
    • "10X" Change: Regulation
      • The demise of patent medicines
      • The reordering of telecommunications
      • Privatization
  5. "Why Not Do It Ourselves?"
    "The memory business crisis — and how we dealt with it — is how I learned the meaning of a strategic inflection point,"
    • Entering Our Strategic Inflection Point
    • The Route to Survival
    • Looking Back
  6. "Signal" or "Noise"?
    "How do we know whether a change signals a strategic inflection point? The only way is through the process of clarification that comes from broad and intensive debate."
    • Is X-ray Technology a "10X" Force?
    • RISC versus CISC
    • Is It or Isn't It?
    • Helpful Cassandras
    • Avoiding the Trap of the First Version
    • Debate
    • Arguing with the Data
    • Fear
  7. Let Chaos Reign
    "Resolution comes through experimentation. Only stepping out of the old ruts will bring new insights."
    • The Touchy-Feely Issues
    • The Inertia of Success
    • Strategic Dissonance
    • Experimentation
    • The Business Bubble
    • A New Industry Map
  8. Rein in Chaos
    "Clarity of direction, which includes describing what we are going after as well as describing what we will not be going after, is exceedingly important at the late stage of a strategic transformation."
    • Traversing the Valley of Death
    • Redeploying Resources
    • Leading Via Strategic Actions
    • The Clarity Imperative
    • Adjusting to the New
    • Dynamic Dialectic
    • The Other Side of the Valley
  9. The Internet: Signal or Noise? Threat or Promise?
    "Anything that can affect industries whose total revenue base is many hundreds of billions of dollars is a big deal."
    • What Is the Internet Anyway?
    • Bits and Stolen Eyeballs
    • What About Us?
    • Threat or Promise?
    • What Do We Do?


Only the Paranoid Survive

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Disappointing *** (3 out of 10)

Last modified: July 16, 2009, 12:49 p.m.

I love the title. The contents are not very valuable though.


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