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Intel From Behind the Curtain 109

Good Morning Silicon Valley writes "So now that we've reached this postmodern understanding that all official corporate communication is, if not a charade, part of a ritualized dance where meaning must be divined between the lines, where do you turn to hear an executive talk straight? Why, to his or her blog, of course. Even more candid than the still-rare public executive blog is one meant just for internal consumption, and that's what makes Intel President Paul Otellini's postings such interesting reading. The Mercury News snagged a copy of Otellini's 8-week-old blog and found it full of frank interaction with employees on strategic initiatives and the competition."
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Intel From Behind the Curtain

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  • About AMD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cflorio ( 604840 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:07AM (#11688082) Homepage
    "``While I hate losing share, the reality is that our competitor has a very strong product offering,'' Otellini wrote in a Jan. 10 entry."

    Do ya think?

  • "Straight Talk"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by InfallibleLies ( 654694 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:11AM (#11688123)
    It reads like something customers are supposed to see, talking about "customer focus" and other such nonsense. He even mentions on the blog that he expected it to go public, so how exactly is this "Straight Talk From Executives"?
  • by cyberfunk2 ( 656339 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:12AM (#11688144)
    He cant really expect that it'd be kept private from the outside world can he ? Too many people can see it.

    I mean that sort of setup is just begging for trouble.
  • by QMO ( 836285 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:17AM (#11688190) Homepage Journal
    My experience, from several industries, is that executive speeches (or blogs, or whatever) to employees, while different than those made for outside consumption, are not less carefully constructed to give a specific, not necessarily true, impression.

    Moreover, especially with the ever-increasing threat of lawsuits, people are more and more careful what they put in writing in any context at all, and companies have learned that digital words are more dangerous than words on paper.

    Now, if there were transcripts of a converstion between two executives that were good friends, and not rivals in any way, completely trusted each other, and were slightly drunk, they would be interesting transcripts.

    Most interesting would be words written where the guy thought that NO ONE else would EVER see them.
  • by idlake ( 850372 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:23AM (#11688257)
    So now that we've reached this postmodern understanding that all official corporate communication is, if not a charade, part of a ritualized dance where meaning must be divined between the lines,

    In Soviet Russia, people reached that understanding decades ago for all official corporations. Obviously, they were far ahead of their time. Of course, the poor suckers didn't have much of a choice than to figure it out--their lives depended on it every day; for us, most of the time, the consequence of figuring out corporate messages just comes down to whether we buy Coke or Pepsi.

    Seriously, this is no coincidence: modern political propaganda was invented during WWI in the US by people like Bernays. After WWI, the now out-of-work folks started writing books and selling their services to the private sector. Their "Torches of Freedom" campaign made smoking instantly acceptable for women (even though Bernays himself already believed that smoking was bad and forbade his daughter to smoke). Goebbels picked up Bernays's methods for the Nazis (from Bernay's published works), and I suspect the communist movement used it as well. After that, this has been pretty much the standard way for any large organization to communicate with rest of us--it is standard textbook stuff.
  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:26AM (#11688303)
    My company recently posted its third quarter earnings statement. Internally, the CEO was upbeat, singing the praises of the results, but with the by now mandatory "but we've still got a lot of work to do, don't get complacent" bit at the end.

    The City got a rather different speech - verging on apologising for the poor results, it was very much lower-key.

    Which is more accurate? Well, I'm no accountant or investor, but the results didn't look that great to me. The point is that just because something's said internally doesn't make it true, *especially* when it's communicated to the employees in general.
  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:31AM (#11688338)
    It reads like something customers are supposed to see, talking about "customer focus" and other such nonsense.

    That's pretty common - we had a number of speeches and other internal communications where I work a year or two ago about how we had to become "more customer focussed", amongst other things. None of them were expected to be seen publicly; executives really do just talk and think that way.

    Look at it this way - no executive or manager is going to tell their staff to care *less* about customers, are they?
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:32AM (#11688353)
    It bothers me that this blog was "snagged" and made public. The whole benefit of having an internal weblog is to be frank and keep communication open. This is so much better than occasional and cold company emails or memos. Kudos to Mr. Otellini for trying this. Except now all his frank communication has been snagged and made public, and I don't see much of a reason for other executives to follow his example, lest their own comments get posted on Slashdot.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:35AM (#11688388)
    Paul's blog is on Intel's internal web site, not accessible from the outside - until some moron leaks it, of course. Paul recognized this would happen, so he's not quite as open as he might be otherwise, but the blog is a big hit within Intel and he is responding to employee questions. I do hope he continues it despite the leaks.

    I do note that nowadays the blog is prefaced with the standard legal mumbo-jumbo about "forward-looking statements".
  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikael ( 484 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @10:37AM (#11688402)
    Personally, I'd prefer to see a company director admit that the true state of affairs, and propose action to remedy the situation, rather than remain in a state of denial, only to be forcibly evicted six months later.
  • If a company's exec is so paranoid as to be frightened of his words going public, maybe there is something wrong with the company that it SHOULD be public.

    That is not the case here, but I'm speaking directly to your statement.

    Further, as the head of one biggest names in technology, you can't hope for anything you write down for mass consumtion NOT to be spread around. It's the nature of the beast. Surely intel exec, more than anyone else, would understand this.

    This is just a cleverly craft bit of PR.
  • It's kind of funny to see all the employee comments about wanting to make "cool" products like iPods and Macs. I don't think chips will ever be a "cool" part of the consumer creations except for Slashdot readers. Intel just doesn't control that part of products, and the manufacturers on that side are only interested in churning out ATX compatible motherboards at low cost. For someone to start making "cool" products based on Intel chips, Intel is going to have to find someone willing to do some original motherboard design. Or convince Apple to based some products on their chips.
  • by misleb ( 129952 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @11:22AM (#11688788)
    Look at it this way - no executive or manager is going to tell their staff to care *less* about customers, are they?

    No, but they could at least try to come up with something meaningful to say. Nobody but a manager really knows what becoming "more customer focused" really means. What a mmanager might say is something like "stop making silly, mocking faces while talking to customers on the phone and don't assume they are morons." But then again, maybe scolding employees isn't the best motivating force.


  • by Retrospecter ( 807978 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:02PM (#11689126)
    A lot of comments in the pdf were related to Apple's capture of the "cool" factor, and how Intel can get in on the action. It seems that everyone wants to find a way for their company to be as cool as Apple is right now. The problem is that you can't just suddenly become a cool company when you've been, at least from the average consumer's view, pretty dull for the last couple decades. I know that the R&D done at Intel is probably fascinating cutting-edge stuff, but there's a limit to how cool a CPU or southbridge IC can be. Trying to feed off Apple's appeal would be a waste of time for Intel. It would take them years to make progress in this area, and by then the trends will be something completely different.
    Note-I make no claims to know anything about being cool!
  • Customer Focused? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FatherOfONe ( 515801 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:35PM (#11689487)
    I am a bit confused. After reading the blog, he goes on and on about the EPC thing. He wants an Intel device that is a PC to be in the living room of everyones house. Has he talked to customers? Do people really want this? I understand that he wants this to be simple to use and immune to virues and like, but that makes his product impossible to create AND still be a "PC".

    I read the responses also, and one person hit it on the head. They site Apple as making cool products and Intel as making products that other people use to make "cool" products. Does Intel really want to get in to the same market as Apple? If so then are they going to write software for their products also? What about their OS? What OS are they going to use? Lots of questions and how they answer them depends on how much they piss off Microsoft and others.

    Heck I have an idea for Intel. How about making the best X86 and X86-64 for the money? I will give you the mobile market for now. Then look at where the bottleneck is the current systems (memory) and do something about it. RAMBUS was not the answer!!! Adding more and more cache is not the answer either. You have around 12 BILLION in R&D and you let AMD beat you in your core business?? If you couldn't force Dell and others to not ship AMD systems then you would probably be in a world of hurt, but how long can you continue your stranglehold (illegal monopoly practace)?

    Lastly I want to say again... You have BILLIONS in R&D. Come up with the best product.
  • by AsimovBesterClarke ( 701529 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @02:19PM (#11690783)
    > Imagine a tech company staffed by brilliant geeks who are working their asses off to solve customers' problems.

    Don't have too. Always have.

    > It would be wonderful, except the nature of brilliant geeks is not to solve other peoples' problems, but to work on things that interest them.

    BZZZT! Thanks for playing. In my experience the problem comes down to the mgt. insisting on the band-aid approach and nothing but the band-aid approach. I've seen many a 'quick fix' go in ending up being a permenant solution. Yeah, it mad the phone stop ringing for the particular problem, but ends up causing further problems down the road.

    Taking the 'geek' side a little more here (and, again, this is my experience), it isn't a matter of what 'interests them,' but of solving the actual problem. It really is sad how often the moral equivelant of 'direct stderr to /dev/null' is used.

    Now, to be fair, there are times when the effort to get to the root of the problem is not cost effective (for lack of a better term). Again, in my experience, balancing these is what will make the difference between real innovation and mediocrity.

    I could almost agree with your arguement if it won't for this premise.....
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @02:46PM (#11691093) Homepage Journal
    Well, I've been on both sides of the equation. The problem is that as organizations scale, you begin to get specialization. This specializaiton has permicious side effects.

    Really this shouldn't be seen as management knows whats right vs. geeks know what's right. The issue is that management needs more technology sophistication and geeks need more business sophistication.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.