The DeHavilland Blog

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The lessons of business - in government

Great editorial piece by Andy Grove, retired chairman of Intel, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. In an essay titled "Thinking Strategically" (must be an online subscriber), he talks about how the lessons of business could be applied to government operations. He starts:

As a connoisseur of strategy -- student, practitioner (in business) and teacher -- I have long been intrigued with the relationship between strategic principles applied to nations and strategies pursued by businesses. Strategy had its origin in military use, but over time it migrated into the business setting. The linkage is still there: Most contemporary business students, for example, will have read Sun Tzu's "Art of War" in their Business Strategy course. But it is a different relationship that preoccupies me.

Just as medical research tests biological processes in large populations of fruit flies or rodents before human application, I am intrigued by the prospect of applying -- to nations -- the strategic practices that have been formulated and evaluated in the "laboratory" of the world's businesses. As in medical applications, we must be careful in extrapolating from one to the other. Nevertheless, I believe there are benefits to such comparative analysis.

Well worth reading the whole thing.

One thing that concerns me, however - in this entire article, which focused primarily on energy independence, he mentions several other applications, such as medicine and global competition, but does not mention education even once. For someone who pioneered business engagement in education while at Intel (at one point investing $100 million per year in these ventures) and has been a prominent voice in the field, I'm hoping he hasn't moved on to other things...


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