SAN FRANCISCO--Intel Corp. has a rare opportunity in its history to make a
bold statement about its future direction when it picks a successor
to Paul Otellini.
Insider or outsider? Tongues will wag for months until Intel's
sixth CEO--Otellini's successor--is named.
It's time to pick a general for tomorrow's war, not today's. And
it's time to make a statement not only about Intel but also to and about
We've moved from a generation of ambitious, shoot-from-the-hip
technologists who built this industry to C-suites largely populated
by engineer-bean counters who nurture its maturity. That's a problem
when electronics design is changing rapidly and semiconductor
vendors seem to be playing more prevent defense than aggressive and
The new Intel CEO needs to be a warrior-poet, an executive who
understands the next war and can relentlessly communicate that
vision to Intel employees and the industry at large with the grace and wisdom of
Good engineer/technologist/CEOs are a dime a dozen in the electronics industry. Outside of engineer-to-engineer discussions, our CEOs are
usually lousy communicators, and this has a direct impact on a company's direction
and the customer/investor/partner perceptions of companies. Even
the best HR and communications teams can't fix the problem, and no
amazing technological breakthrough can compensate for not properly
articulating value and direction.
The Halla moment
For me, a signature moment came when I interviewed then-National
Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla, about a year into his tenure there. I
had interviewed his predecessor, Gil Amelio, a year or so before. I
came away not understanding Amelio's strategy at all, but I chalked it up
to my inexperience. Halla articulated his vision for
National in three memorable bullet points. I got it right away. Then I
told Halla about not understanding Amelio's message.