In his book Only the Paranoid Survive, Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, tells the story of how in 1985 he and Intel co-founder Gordon Moore had to make a critical decision on the direction of the company.
Intel was well-known at the time as a manufacturer of memory chips but with increased competition from offshore manufacturers they were now losing money. Grove knew he had to do something. As he stared out the window one afternoon, he turned back to Gordon and asked him, “If we got kicked out of Intel and the board brought in a new CEO, what do you think they would do?” Gordon didn’t hesitate. “They would get us out of memories.” Then Groves suggested they leave the room, walk back in, and do that themselves.
Intel went on to become a world leader in microprocessors. But they could have easily gone the other way.
That simple exercise was about objective reflection. They removed themselves objectively from the emotional connection, commitments of strategy, and personal history so they could make the right decision for the future of their organization.
Ask yourself this question:
If you sold your business or the board brought in a new CEO, what would they do?
If you were replaced by someone else, how would they take your company to a new level? How would they get better results?
This is a great exercise for the start of an offsite or at the beginning of a strategic planning process. Try to be objective and take time to reflect on the core issues, the industry and the economy—the fate of your organization may be at stake.
Have a great day!