157. “Only The Paranoid Survive” 2.0

Andy Grove’s Book and Quote

Grove was a founder of Intel, and its CEO from ’87 to ’98. He wrote an acclaimed book on what he had learned: “Only the Paranoid Survive”, published in ’99.  His summary quote:

“Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”

To put the quote in greater Grove/Intel context. Intel started as a memory chip manufacturer in ’68. In ’85, they abruptly exited memory chips due to Japanese, clone-dumping. They bet the company on making microprocessors, specifically, for the IBM PC and clones.

Key Grove Observations:

As the pace of technology change increases, there are “inflection points” that require transformational changes. Successful incumbents usually don’t see – or underestimate – these shifts until it’s too late and then die. New entrants, who see the shift can build an organization from scratch that is perfectly in tune with new competitive realities. In 2019, we call this “disruption”.  

Seeing inflection points early and assessing their true, un-hyped potential is a full-time job. Operational folks don’t see the full threat/opportunity, because they are too busy fine-tuning immediate opportunities. Plus, business-as-usual kills any big-change efforts that appear to threaten veterans’: power, perks and purse.    

Is Cloud-Ecommerce an Inflection Point for Product-Pushing Distributors?

Many distributors have field-sales business models that have never transformed. Since the late ‘’60’s, new business-model innovators have taken share from tradition-bound distributors. Think: Fastenal, Maintenance Warehouse, Home Depot’s Pro Sales, Integrated-Sole-Supply players, and now Amazon Business.  

Amazon Business and a slew of new on-line sellers across all industries have (in addition) changed millennial B2B buyer’s expectations. They want all-digital, customer-centric, buying journeys with product comparison – studies, reviews and unbundled prices. A huge “inflection point”.  


  1. Who are your futurists assessing Cloud Ecommerce?
  2. What are your customer-centric, digital innovations experiments underway?
  3. Are your experiments focused first on most net-profitable (and fastest growing) customers?
  4. Are you reskilling reps to e-sell in whatever way each important customer wants to interact?  
  5. Are you too busy losing money on too many net-unprofitable customers to do 1-4?


Get paranoid. Get customer profitability analytics to:

  • Transform your losing customers into winners
  • Reinvent value for most profitable customers with digital solutions as needed.

Big, new analytical insights require big change which will spark big resistance. How will you execute these changes? I can help with a free, virtual tutorial for your C-suite. Email me now!  bruce@merrifield.com   i

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