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Strategy Rules

Five Timeless Lessons From Bill Gates, Andy Grove and Steve Jobs

By David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano
  • Read in 13 minutes
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Strategy Rules by David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano

Strategy Rules (2015) explores the business strategies and leadership styles of three hyper-successful tech CEOs: Bill Gates of Microsoft, Andy Grove of Intel and Steve Jobs of Apple. These blinks break down the strategic expertise necessary to build a competitive business and ensure long-term success.

Key idea 1 of 8

Strategize by creating a vision, setting priorities and anticipating customer needs.


Wouldn’t it be great to know how top companies like Apple, Microsoft and Intel came to dominate their industries?

The answer is simple.

They all share a common key to success, vision. In short, they’re the best because they started with a clear picture of where they wanted to go.

But knowing where you want to go isn’t helpful if you can’t get there, as these companies knew. So after setting their visions, they developed the strategies to make them realities.


Start realizing your vision by setting your priorities.

Take Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel. In 1964, Moore predicted that computing power would double every 18–24 months. Andy Grove, Intel’s CEO, used this information to foresee an industry shift from a horizontal structure where companies built and sold complete systems to a vertical structure where they focused on smaller product groups to boost efficiency.

So Grove shifted the company’s priority from producing complete computers, including all hardware and software, to microprocessors – specific components – thereby leading to Intel’s dominance in the field.

But Moore’s discovery went beyond Intel. Bill Gates used his own interpretation of it to define Microsoft’s priorities.

Here’s how.

Gates realized that if computing power increased exponentially, it would eventually become virtually free. So, instead of selling hardware like processors that were sure to drop in value, Gates focused on software to fully take advantage of this computing power.

Priorities are essential to realizing your vision, but anticipating the needs of your customers is also crucial because it will help keep you on track.

For instance, in 1979, Steve Jobs visited Xerox’s research center and saw the first graphical user interface (GUI). Until this point, operating systems only responded to typed command lines, making them difficult to use. Jobs knew that in order to appeal to customers, personal computers needed to be more user-friendly, and seeing the future of computers in GUI technology, he used it to create an accessible user interface that made computers mainstream.

It’s clear that having a vision, setting priorities to realize it and anticipating your customers’ needs are all essential to guiding your company. But what are your goals as you move forward?

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