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Strategy Is Destiny: How Strategy-Making Shapes a Company's Future

Strategy Is Destiny: How Strategy-Making Shapes a Company's Future

by Robert A. Burgelman, Andrew S. Grove (Foreword by)

How did a pioneering company in the semiconductor industry not only survive but thrive in the face of the explosive change and upheavals that forced it to transform itself twice in the course of its thirty-year history? The answer lies in the quality of its strategy-making process, contends leading strategic management scholar Robert A. Burgelman in this


How did a pioneering company in the semiconductor industry not only survive but thrive in the face of the explosive change and upheavals that forced it to transform itself twice in the course of its thirty-year history? The answer lies in the quality of its strategy-making process, contends leading strategic management scholar Robert A. Burgelman in this extraordinary book based on an exhaustive twelve-year study he conducted inside Intel Corporation.
Granted the opportunity to track Intel's strategy-making through his close teaching collaboration with its chairman, Andy Grove, at Stanford Business School since 1988, Burgelman has written a definitive and far-reaching account of how highly educated top managers groped their way through strategic conundrums. His account of the evolution of key events in Intel's history is illustrated with extensive quotes from its cofounder Gordon Moore, Andy Grove, current CEO Craig Barrett, and dozens of other Intel executives. His study allows these leaders to speak for themselves in scores of highly rendered executive portraits.
Using thoroughly tested conceptual tools, Burgelman first documents the key role played by mid-level managers in transforming Intel from a memory company into a microprocessor company during the late 1970s and early 1980s, which led to the heartbreaking decision to abandon the business on which the company had been founded in 1968. He then makes readers eyewitnesses to the complex set of complementary strategic thrusts orchestrated by Andy Grove to make Intel capi- talize on the extraordinary opportunities associated with the phenomenal growth of the PC industry during the late 1980s and the 1990s. He reconstructs Grove's resolution of the struggle between two competing micro- processor architectures within Intel that caused civil war to erupt, and he shows how Intel's superbly run strategy-making process in the core business, paradoxically, made it difficult for internal entrepreneurs to extend the company's strategic reach. This allows him to link the strategic leadership challenges, faced today by Craig Barrett, to Intel's illustrious past and to provide suggestions for how these challenges can be met.
At once a history of strategy-making at Intel as well as a strategy-making field manual that any high-technology manager will need to consult frequently, Strategy Is Destiny truly describes strategy-in-action as the way of life of senior executives in the corporation of the future.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Jonathan Day Principal, McKinsey & Company, England Strategy Is Destiny is about the real world of firms and top executives as they create strategies in highly competitive environments. It offers us this world just as it is, in its full and challenging complexity. Burgelman's clear thinking is a useful antidote for both the comfortable slogans of practitioner-based writing and the neat abstractions of pure theory.

Larry Boucher founder and CEO, Alacritech, and founder and former CEO, Adaptec and Auspex Will make you think hard about your strategic decision-making processes. I found myself frequently stopping to ask how do we do that now, how have we done it in the past, and how might we improve in the future. If you care where you are going, you should read this book.

Rebecca Henderson Eastman Kodak LMF Professor of Management, Sloan School of Management, MIT With unparalleled insight, Professor Burgelman's unmatched ten-year study has contributed fundamentally important ideas with wide-ranging implications for strategy- making in nearly every context. I suspect Strategy Is Destiny will become required reading.

Clayton Christensen Professor, Harvard Business School and author of The Innovator's Dilemma Strategy Is Destiny is an extraordinary book from one of the world's foremost management scholars. Most people study what good strategy is; but Burgelman has documented the forces that determine how strategy gets defined and implemented. Anyone with an interest in strategic change needs to understand this book.

Daniel A. Levinthal Julian Aresty Professor of Economics and Management, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Burgelman provides a richly textured analysis of one of the more remarkable corporate transformations in modern business history — the evolution of Intel from a struggling start-up enterprise to a dominant force in high technology. Through this account, Burgelman offers important general insights as to the challenges of organizational adaptation in dynamic competitive environments. Strategy Is Destiny will be an important touchstone for theory and practice.

Craig Barrett President and Chief Executive Officer, Intel Corporation An intriguing history of corporate strategy within Intel along with interpretation by one of the top experts in the world, Strategy Is Destiny is two books in one where the result is clearly 1 + 1 = 3. It will increase every reader's understanding of how corporate strategy really works.

This sophisticated book, written for executives at established companies and business school scholars, places two mutually antagonistic concepts -- strategy (which posits an open-ended, yet-to-be-determined future) and destiny (the belief in an inevitable end) -- into a relationship. Author Robert Burgelman, a professor at Stanford University, begins with look at strategy -- what it is, how it evolves, becoming inertial and destinal or adaptive and transformative -- using Intel as a model. He then proceeds with an advanced discussion of strategy that is fascinating, challenging, and well worth reading; although this book isn't right for the casual reader, it is certain to be appreciated by its intended audience.
Publishers Weekly
Granted unprecedented access to Intel, Stanford Business School professor Burgelman was able to observe how the company's strategies at key moments helped shape its history. Specifically, he looks closely at the decisions Intel's top managers made as the company evolved from being a memory-chip company to a firm whose product is now a central building block of the Internet. From there he works outward, drawing four distinct lessons from the Intel story: embrace a strategy as a way of imposing order; when that strategy proves useless, spend a lot of time studying why (since the forces rendering your strategy worthless might lead to a huge opportunity); capitalize on your core strengths and search out new prospects simultaneously; and manage the change process aggressively. Most strategy books look at numerous companies and trends, and then try to distill the lessons to a central approach. Burgelman takes the opposite approach, generalizing from what he has discovered by studying one company in depth. If readers can get past the minutiae (Burgelman seems compelled to record everything that has happened in the company's more than 30-year history), his lessons could be greatly useful to senior managers grappling with how to integrate strategy into day-to-day operations. (Feb.) Forecast: Burgelman and Intel's chairman, Andrew Grove, have co-taught a course at Stanford for several years, and the author's closeness with his subject should attract serious businesspersons. Booksellers who display this title alongside Grove's recent memoir, Swimming Across (Forecasts, Sept. 17) should see increased sales. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
According to Burgelman (management, Stanford Univ.), a researcher on internal corporate venturing and entrepreneurship, both "successful and unsuccessful strategies shape a company's destiny." Here he describes the theories and ideas behind successful strategies within the framework of Intel, based on his 12-year study of the company and his coteaching of Intel's case studies with its chair, Andrew Grove. Burgelman's extensive study was based on analysis of quantitative company data and interviews with company executives. The result is an ideal combination of theory and practice; theories of strategy are studied within the context of three epochs of Intel's history, during which the company experienced great upheaval, change, and growth. Bibliographic footnotes regarding Intel are provided. The financial highlights section and appendixes should be extremely useful to those researching the company. Burgelman's book should be required reading for management students and is highly recommended for business collections in academic libraries. Lucy Heckman, St. John's Univ., Jamaica, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Free Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Robert A. Burgelman is the Edmund W. Littlefield Professor of Management and Director of the Stanford Executive Program of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He is coauthor of Inside Corporate Innovation and Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation. He has led senior and top management seminars for major companies worldwide. He serves on several boards of directors and advisory boards.

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