High Output Management by Andrew Grove [Book Summary – Review]


Management looks like overwhelming work. Managers are expected to be everywhere, all the time, to pay attention and talk to their workers, to plan and organize workflows, to bring the best out of their workers, and improve overall performance. However, how can someone master a lot of tasks?

In this book chapter, you’ll learn about what the key duties of a manager are and what you have to understand about your workers and your duty. Also, you will discover how to gather the information you require to make the right choices, how to motivate your team, and how to make your team perform well.


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Chapter 1 – Managing a company is similar to serving breakfast – it needs intellectual knowledge of production processes.


It might look like an odd idea; however, working as a waiter will really get you ready to manage the production processes of a business.

How is that possible?

Managing production processes is really similar to serving breakfast. For example, if your duty is to deliver a three-minute boiled egg, toast, and coffee, you’re already experiencing the vital requirements of production. You have to respond to demand by delivering your product bases on a specific schedule while meeting expectations for quality and minimizing costs.

To accomplish this difficult series of tasks you have to bear in mind the first question of production: which step is the most difficult to accomplish?

When we talk about serving breakfast, it’s absolutely boiling the egg as it requires the longest time. The other steps should be planned around the time required to finish this task.

Then, as soon as you’ve known the priority step in production, it’s your duty as a manager to look for the most cost-effective method to use the resources that are available to you.

Assuming a waiter needs to stand in line each morning to make use of the toaster while his customer has to wait for her breakfast. How can he fix the issue? His choices are to ask a coworker for assistance, organize toast in advance, or purchase another toaster.



Basically, managers are there to find and fix these types of bottlenecks, and their resolutions comprise employing a larger workforce, improving inventory, or purchasing more equipment. However, bear in mind, these entire decisions cost money, and the duty of a manager is to balance them in the most cost-effective approach.

However, that is not all; managers also have to identify issues. The reason is that problems occur every time in production; to fix the damage, it’s vital to identify and solve them as fast as possible.

For instance, if the kitchen ends up with a lot of rotten eggs, it’d be better to detect that out when they’re in the fridge and before they’re being boiled or put into a customer’s plate. This signifies that it’s vital for managers to monitor carefully every production process.


Chapter 2 – Managers have to understand how to pick production indicators and get significant information from them.


Ordinarily, a manager can’t be in all places at the time. To get a detailed overview, the manager has to depend on good measurements.

In order to do that, she should pick a minimum of five indicators that are shown to her each morning upon arrival at work.

First, she’ll want the sales calculations immediately. Meaning, the number of breakfasts she needs to make today?

Secondly, inventory levels are vital. The reason is that she has to know the number of eggs, loaves of bread, and pounds of coffee she has in store.

Third, she has to understand the state of the equipment. Since her only toaster stopped working yesterday, it’s vital to substitute it before rush hour.

Fourth, it’s significant to have an update on the workforce. Nevertheless, if three waiters have called in sick, the manager has to look for substitutes immediately.

Lastly, she’ll want a quality indicator that evaluates public view. Essentially, did customers like the breakfast that was served to them?



However, having these production indicators isn’t sufficient; also, a manager has to understand how to get vital information from them. One good approach for this includes pairing two of them together.

For example, in order to know your inventory levels more, you have to check them against your sales forecasts to know the potential for inventory shortages. This will assist you to choose what the critical inventory level is.

Also, you have to pair indicators with the real outcomes you’re achieving. For instance, if you were assessing a salesperson, you wouldn’t only think about the number of calls she made but the number of deals she sealed as well.

Also, you can get beneficial information from indicators by looking at trends. For example, our manager can compare the number of breakfasts she served in the current month to former months to measure her performance and make a forecast about if she’ll serve more or less in the next month.


Chapter 3 – A manager has a lot of duties and her success relies on that of her team.


It might not usually look like it; however. management is a team effort. This is the reason why a manager isn’t only rated on their personal abilities and personal performance, but the working achievements of her team as well.

For example, if a manager performs well at planning production, distributing resources, and detect errors; however, her staff fails to execute, the manager is still accountable.

Therefore, how can you enhance your general team’s performance?

One of the manager’s main duties when managing a team is to gather and share information.

At times, the best method to do that is through fast, informal discussions. Nevertheless, a few words discussed between a manager and a worker at the coffee machine will spread much faster than any memo.



But, asking for written reports from team members is important as well. The reason is that the discipline it needs to write a report makes the worker reflect on her work and better understand present issues. That makes reports vital for giving beneficial information to a manager.

However, managers are responsible for decision making as well, which makes the former duty of gathering and sharing information all the more vital. For instance, it’s the manager’s responsibility to choose to open a new branch or employ new workers. In order to do that, she’ll require comprehensive information on all the likely options and their pros and cons.

Lastly, it’s the manager’s duty as well to be a role model. A manager who uses working time making personal calls is unlikely to motivate their team. Conversely, a manager who works long hours and takes the work seriously will lay a good example for other people to follow.

Just bear in mind, values can’t be communicated through memos and discussions only. This entails that managers have to show the appropriate way to act. Nevertheless, nothing leads better than an example.


Chapter 4 – Meetings are a vital managerial tool and they appear in various forms.


A lot of managers consider meetings the curse of their existence, and Peter Drucker who is a leader in contemporary management has even mentioned that using above 25% of your time in meetings is an indication of poor organization. However, meetings are vital to any manager’s day-day routine.

The reason is that meetings are the basis for every other managerial activity. For example, you recently learned about a manager’s main responsibilities: gathering information, decision making, and serving as an example. None of these can be performed well without having meetings.

Therefore, you don’t have to be scared if meetings are using up half your day. They’re basically the essential medium through which management functions.

With that being said, there are various kinds of meetings. A mission-oriented meeting is intended to fix certain issues by making a decision. These have a tendency to be held spontaneously as an emergency occurs, such as a meeting called at the last minute to fast handle a big product malfunction.



A process-oriented meeting is a different kind of meeting. With this meeting, information and ideas about less pressing issues, are shared. These meetings depend on regularity to pay off. The most common kind is a one-on-one meeting between a supervisor as well as her worker– a chance for both of them to get informed.

With inexperienced subordinates, this kind of meeting should normally happen once a week; however, its frequency also relies on the work area and how fast conditions transform. For instance, you’ll have to hold them frequently in a marketing surrounding, where the work pace is faster than in, say, for instance, a research department.

Ideally, these one-on-ones takes about an hour and happen in or close to the worker’s workspace as their surrounding might be revealing. By watching your employee’s desk you can know if he’s organized or if he suffers from constant disturbances.


Chapter 5 – It’s the duty of a manager to nurture motivation.


Assuming a worker isn’t living up to expectations. Do you know how to immediately determine if he doesn’t have skills or just requires further motivation?

Just question yourself, “could he do his work if his life depended on it?”

If the answer to that question is yes, then he’s most likely dealing with low motivation. There’s no means you could play the violin perfectly without being a skilled musician. However, if you needed to run 6 miles to run from a serial killer, you’d most likely make it even if you weren’t in perfect shape. The fact is, workers who perform inefficiently ordinarily lack skills or motivation.

Hence, it’s not a surprise that motivation has become essential to contemporary management, mostly due to the increase of knowledge employees whose key source of capital is information. Nevertheless, the quality of work done by a manual laborer is simple to evaluate. The reason is that, if a poorly motivated bricklayer builds a crooked wall, the foreman will instantly see it and take corrective actions.

However, when we talk about knowledge employees, it’s difficult to instantly notice if a job was done well without being an expert in the field they’re working on. That entails that it’s even more significant to keep workers motivated to hinder these expensive, tricky-to-spot mistakes.



Therefore, it’s the manager’s choice to motivate her workers. However, motivation can only arise from within, which signifies that a manager’s duty is to promote a surrounding that assists workers maintain their own motivation.

In order to do that, the manager has to understand if her workers are competence-driven or achievement-driven people.

The former are motivated to increase their understanding and skills. Consider a stellar musician who practices every day to increase his technique. Managers have to encourage these workers to produce tangible outcomes and prevent them from concentrating only on self-improvement.

The other kind, achievement-driven workers, are driven by success. Workers like this have to be put in a situation where their goals are ambitious enough that they succeed.


Chapter 6 – Workers can’t be motivated by just financial rewards; they require feedback as well as support from their managers.


Employees expect to be rewarded for their professional duties, and money is most likely the most obvious reward. However, is money the best?

Well, up to a specific point, money is a great motivator; however, it has its boundaries.

For instance, some individuals who are wealthy already see money just as a status symbol that reveals to the outside world how successful they are. A person like this doesn’t essentially require extra income; hence, receiving one, two, or five million more won’t have much effect on their motivation.

Conversely, even workers who rely on their incomes to support themselves find money’s motivational potential limited. The reason is that money motivates individuals; however, just until they attain a suitable standard of living where their basic needs are fulfilled. Then, after that, these workers will want more significant and important rewards.

Hence, how can you keep workers at top performance?

By creating a system that assesses their success. As a matter of fact, this is the only means for employees to make actual development.



Consider the competency-driven workers who love to grow their understanding and skills. The best method for motivating them is to reveal to them that they still have the ability to get better. The reason is that, without this potential, the yearn to do better all but vanishes.

To show the space for development, a manager can give evaluations and feedback through, for instance, performance reviews that rate a worker on his accomplishments.

However, bear in mind, when reviewing performance, it’s important for a manager to understand how a fear of failure can change specific achievement-driven people into excessively cautious underperformers. It’s vital to communicate the significance of accepting failure and supporting those kinds of workers anytime they require it.


Chapter 7 – In order to increase performance, managers have to encourage competition at work and take on the character of a coach.


Perhaps you’ve encountered people at your place of work who are slow workers and show small motivation; but, can still push themselves to the boundary to run a complete marathon. What motivates people that are like this?

Basically, the desire to defeat others.

The reason is that when in competition, people are very more likely to accept challenges. This determination to beat the distance, stopwatch, or competition is an outcome of self-actualization, a notion that became important by Abraham Maslow the psychologist in the year 1954.

Someone who feels that she has the ability to master a challenge will as well be compelled to take it on. She will experience this urge because of a necessity to accomplish her own potential – actualize herself – through the challenge. Hence, it is not a surprise, that the best place for self-actualization is competitive sports.

Therefore, what does this entail for a manager?

That you need to bring the sporting spirit of competition into the place of work, and that entails allowing workers to compare themselves to their colleagues. For example, the maintenance service that cleaned Intel’s facilities did badly for years until a program was formed to put the teams from each building into competition with each other by rating their work and comparing the marks.



Although there were no extra incentives than the urge to beat the others, the cleanliness of each building really got better, showing that competition only can enhance performance.

In some respects, a good manager should behave as though she were the coach of a sports team. For instance, a coach never takes recognition for the success of a team, and neither should a manager take credit for the success of the team since it might make her team feel cheated out of their well-deserved compliments.

Also, at times coaches have to be hard on their players to force the best performance out of them. Likewise, managers have to understand how to give workers constructive criticism.


Chapter 8 – There’s no perfect management technique; however, there is a means to get the appropriate technique for the circumstance.


You might be thinking, is there one technique to management that is better than every other one? Most likely not.

The reason is that management techniques are liable to changes and no perfect technique has appeared yet. For example, during the early twentieth century, management was strict and sternly hierarchical. Workers abided by orders and didn’t question their superiors.

Management theory then progressively grew into a more tender tactic that considered the individual worker rather than just his productivity. However, in spite of this change, researchers of motivation and leadership have never agreed on one ideal technique.

But, for any particular situation, researchers can indicate a variable that shows which technique should be depended on. This method of evaluating your subordinates is known as task-relevant maturity or TRM.

It’s a mixture of a worker’s tendencies toward responsibility as well as accomplishment, and her experience, training, and education. Due to that, an employee’s TRM might be more for one task or field and low for the other one.



For example, a sales manager’s TRM could be high for sales however low when she’s handling a production process. Telling her to do the production process would be a little like enforcing someone who’s accustomed to navigating on small nation roads to suddenly drive on a major freeway.

Therefore, TRM levels vary, and different management techniques are needed based on a worker’s ranking. For example, if a worker has a low TRM for a specific task, a manager should outline the process in clear, comprehensive instructions.

Then, as the worker’s TRM rises, the manager can minimize her participation while still watching the progress. By doing this, the manager-employee relationship imitates the relationship between a parent and a child.

As a child grows old, parenting technique changes. Nevertheless, a child has to be told not to touch things that are dangerous; however, there is no point to explain to a teenager the reason why she shouldn’t touch the blade of a sharp knife. Also, the same applies to your workers. As they develop, they’ll learn for themselves how to best flourish.


High Output Management by Andrew S. Grove Book Review


The duties of a manager are multi-faceted and the shifting nature of work has changed the duty. This entails that contemporary managers are in charge of gathering information, making choices, serving as role models, nurturing motivation, and flexibly evaluating their workers.


Choose whether being friends with your subordinates is appropriate for you.

People usually think if whether it’s OK to build a friendship with individuals who work under them. The reason is that those kinds of relationships can be hard to maintain, particularly when the higher-up needs to take disciplinary action against her subordinate. Therefore, as a manager, you want to be clear where your stand is on this matter. Just think about giving a critical performance review to an already close friend. If you are capable of doing that, then building personal connections might be sensible and could be used to fortify your professional relationships.



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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

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