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High Output Management Review

Horia Coman
Leading the Bolt platform and developer infrastructure groups. We're working on cool products like maps, data foundations, microservices tooling, etc.
Originally published at horia141.com on ・2 min read

This is my review of “High Output Management” by Andy Grove. Now this book is a classic. Folks who chose to read it will read it regardless of what I say here.

So the review itself will be a bit different. Instead of going on chapter by chapter and providing the summary and my commentary, I’ll focus on a few key things that stood out.

First off, even though this was written in the 80s, and based off of knowledge gained in the 60s, 70s and 80s, it was hard to tell. As much as these things can be timeless, High Output Management is so. The teachings of Andy Grove are as valid today as they were then. And to great popularity too! All three of the last companies I worked worked like that. Much like a Beatles album, you might not get why it’s so popular from the vantage point of the 2020s - it sounds like a lot of modern rock or pop! But because it defined what modern pop can be and everyone else was heavily inspired by them. You need to go back to stuff like rigid hierarchies, manager as factory boss, etc to figure out the impact.

Perhaps the thing that stuck with me most was the definition of a manager’s output - their teams’ output. It’s easy to get lost in the how of management, and not acknowledge the why. All the stuff one does from hiring, to coaching, to working on processes, is done to increase the power of the team you have to deliver better.

Another good bit was the one about coaching as an essential management tool. Before I was of the opinion this was strictly an employee led and dominated thing, mostly on account of a personal bias towards self-learning and knowing what’s best for me. The book 180ed my perspective here. Coaching and training is basically leveling up your reports, so they can better help with what the team is up to. So it can’t be neglected but rather needs to be influenced and guided by the more experienced party.

The chapters on organisation design, matrix reporting and goal setting by OKRs were also quite good, especially since I could relate them to current pain points at work.

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