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By PASCAL FINETTE

The Heretic is a free bi-weekly dispatch delivering insights into leadership in exponential times. For entrepreneurs, corporate irritants and change makers. Raw, unfiltered and opinionated.

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Jan 24th, 2021

The most unsual question…

The story goes something like this: Sometime in the earlier part of the 1980s, while Toto’s enduring hit “Africa” toped the billboard charts at number 3, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove – the founders and leaders of chipmaking giant Intel – sat down to ponder the future of their business. Things have been good for Intel – founded 15 years earlier, the company was a leader in memory chips as well as microprocessors. As a matter of fact, Intel was the dominant force in the dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) market. A market which, for years, provided strong margins and healthy profits for the Santa Clara, CA based company. But increased competition from Japanese chip manufacturers started to threaten Intel’s dominance in DRAM chips and its profits.

Both men knew change was afoot: Should Intel double-down on its well established market or change course?

Instead of re-examining the latest financial reports or re-reading the newest trend reports, the two pioneers of modern day computing conjured a rather unusual question.

“If we were to get fired tomorrow, what would the new CEO do?”

The answer was clear and unequivocal: Get out of memory.

In 1984 Intel exited the memory business and shifted all their attention and resources to their microprocessor unit. It became the dominant platform for more than 30 years…

Assemble your leadership team, your inner circle, your trusted colleagues and ask yourself the same question Gordon and Andy asked themselves in the 80s: If you were to get fired tomorrow, what would the new leader do?

It might very well be the very question determining the next phase of your company.


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