One-on-one with Andy Grove

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Andrew S. Grove is the president and chief executive officer of Intel Corporation, reputed to be one of the best-managed American companies. He also writes a weekly syndicated business advice column, excerpts from which he has gathered together in this quick-paced, highly readable book. He responds to the problems of clerks in small, family-owned businesses as well as those of senior managers in large corporations, and his question-and-answer dialogues are interspersed with insightful general observations, well-reasoned explanations, and illustrations from his own struggles up the career ladder.

Grove’s advice is so sensible and straightforward that it seems almost revolutionary alongside the many management fads that have come and gone over the last few decades. Typical of his responses is the recommendation he offered to an employee who had become the habitual butt of his boss’s jokes: “Run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit-- quit!” He tells a highly principled employee that he is overly righteous, he asks a supervisor to consider whether a very defensive employee is worth the trouble, and he cautions a secretary to heed the words of a “busybody” who times her breaks and reports infractions to her boss. Grove also gives practical advice on how to handle the everyday problems of the workplace: hang a do-not-disturb sign on one’s office door to avoid interruptions, give an employee a tryout as a supervisor with an old-job-back guarantee if it does not work out, and rotate disagreeable jobs among employees to avoid resentment.

Grove views “the simplicity by which an expert expresses himself as an indication of both the depth of his knowledge and his self-confidence,” and in this he takes his own advice: The book is accessible to everyone. His comments are frank and direct, and they ring true to anyone who has been in the business world for more than a few years.