Andy Grove: “Engage and then plan…”

Harvard’s Richard Tedlow tells us the Andy Grove story in Fortune:
“At Intel he (Andy) fostered a culture in which “knowledge power” would trump “position power.” Anyone could challenge anyone else’s idea, so long as it was about the idea and not the person–and so long as you were ready for the demand “Prove it.” That required data. Without data, an idea was only a story–a representation of reality and thus subject to distortion.”
An example? How Grove managed his prostrate cancer treatment:
“…when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1995, Grove found himself in the position of most patients: frightened, disoriented, and entirely reliant on the advice of doctors. Their advice was straightforward: Surgery was the best option, and that was pretty much all there was to it.
“Was it, though? It took very little to discover that there was much, much more to it. There were alternatives to surgery. No surgeon advised him to take them seriously. But the expert opinions, Grove soon determined, were just that–opinions, based on little if any hard data. Data did exist. What Grove found most shocking is that no one had done the hard work of pulling it together. Plainly, Grove would have to do it himself.
“The patient, in effect, became his own doctor.”
“What Grove found most appalling, in the end, was the utter fixity of belief among doctors who failed to separate knowledge from conventional wisdom. Even the doctor who carried out Grove’s procedure was captive to it. “If you had what I have, what would you do?” Grove asked him at one point. The doctor said he’d probably have surgery. Confounded, Grove later asked why. The doctor thought about it. “You know,” Grove remembers him saying, “all through medical training, they drummed into us that the gold standard for prostate cancer is surgery. I guess that still shapes my thinking.”
On technology and strategy:
“His (Grove’s) speech was a strong statement about strategy. Understanding comes from action. So “be quick and dirty,” he said. “Engage and then plan. And get it better. Revolutions in our industry in our lifetime have taken place using exactly this formula. The best example is the IBM PC”–created on the fly by a team in Boca Raton.”
There’s more… Read the article >>

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