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Let Chaos Reign: Experiment Early—And Often

Once you have identified a strategic inflection point, the key to dealing with it effectively is to "let chaos reign," says Grove. It is important for organizations to experiment in multiple directions so that they have the power to respond to a strategic inflection point. To put it in more dire terms, if you're not already trying all kinds of new things all of the time, it may be too late to start when the 10x change hits you. So it is essential that you experiment constantly with new products, new technologies, and so on:

The dilemma is that you can't suddenly start experimenting when you realize you're in trouble unless you've been experimenting all along. It's too late to do things once things have changed your core business. Ideally, you should have experimented with new products, technologies, channels, promotions, and new customers all along.

If an organization builds experimentation into its everyday business, it will have options available when a 10x change occurs. This is particularly important now, Grove asserts, as the Internet is emerging as everybody's strategic inflection point.

When an SIP arises, it is up to management to choose a clear path and take decisive action. This means (1) exhibiting an unwavering commitment to righting the ship, and (2) providing sufficient resources to accomplish that end. Under Grove's leadership, as noted, Intel's "ship" was righted on more than one occasion, and the company returned the resources invested in it many times over. By the time Grove stepped down as CEO in 1998, Intel was a $26 billion juggernaut delivering more than $6 billion in annual profits.

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