Bill Gates, Andy Grove and Steve Jobs: The Strategies They Shared

BillGatesetalHere is a brief excerpt from an article by Steve Lohr that appeared in The New York Times. To read the complete article, check out others, and obtain subscription information, please click here.

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In retrospect, things look easy, even obvious. Microsoft, Intel and Apple all rose to dominance as if their fates were inevitable.

Of course, it never looks so clear as it’s happening. Shelves full of books have been written about these three companies and the outsized personalities who built them — Bill Gates, Andy Grove and Steve Jobs. In a new book, David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School, and Michael A. Cusumano, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, are adding to that literature by applying a strategic framework to the corporate handiwork of the three, and find common themes. They call these shared features “Strategy Rules,” which is also the title of the book.

Mr. Yoffie and Mr. Cusumano have been studying these companies for nearly three decades and have been collaborating off and on for decades. Initially, Mr. Yoffie was a specialist in corporate strategy, while Mr. Cusumano was an expert in software development and managing product teams. “David was developing high-level strategy, and I was focused on, O.K., how do you get this stuff done,” Mr. Cusumano recalled.

The two have a reputation for taking more than an academic approach to their research, doing a lot of first-hand reporting. Mr. Cusumano dug into the workings of Microsoft for a 1995 book, written with Richard W. Selby, Microsoft Secrets. And the Mr. Cusumano and Mr. Yoffie collaborated on a 1998 book that scrutinized the browser wars between Microsoft and Netscape, Competing on Internet Time. That book was published just as the federal government’s antitrust suit against Microsoft was coming to court. Microsoft obtained an early copy of the manuscript and tried to subpoena copies of the authors’ transcripts from their interviews with 44 current and former Netscape employees for the book. A federal judge later denied that request.

As for insider access, it certainly helps that Mr. Yoffie is a long-time board member of Intel. The new book benefits from interviews with Mr. Grove and other former executives at Intel, Microsoft and Apple.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

Lohr-1Steve Lohr is a technology and economics reporter for The New York Times. To check out his articles, please click here.

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