Intel nearly failed in the 1980s, but its survival became a classic success story. The short version goes like this: Intel’s memory chip business was struggling, and its leaders, Andy Grove, and Gordon Moore, felt lost. One day, Grove asked Moore: “If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would we do?” Moore’s response: “Get out of the memory business.” That made their path clear. They laid off more than 7,000 people, shut down plants, pivoted into microprocessors, and saved Intel.
Katy Milkman loves this story because it captures a key strategy for making change. She should know. She’s a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and she researches how to change behaviors in positive ways. (She also wrote a book called How to Change.) If someone must make a change in their business or life and they cannot decide what to do, Milkman suggests doing what the Intel guys did: Get out of your head.
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