January 26, 2011

An Outsider’s Point of View

You don’t necessarily need an outsider to provide an outside perspective, however. Occasionally a creative, clear-headed insider can break free of both his company’s and his own preconceptions by adopting a novel point of view.

This was demonstrated by Andy Grove in 1985, when he and his boss, Gordon Moore, were fighting what appeared to be a losing battle against an impossible business dilemma. In the midst of their aimless wandering, Grove asked Moore, “If the board kicked us out and brought in new management, what do you think they would do?” Suddenly the answer to Intel’s dilemma became clear to both men. Grove’s deceptively simple question stripped the blinders of denial from their eyes. It allowed them to see the situation afresh, face it squarely, and make what had instantly become the obvious choice.

Grove’s question did not make either man smarter. Both were, and are, smart enough. Fighting denial is not a matter of IQ. It is a matter of point of view.

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