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Lesson #1: Managers Are a Company’s Main Motivators
However, while Shockley might have been a star in the lab, it was quite a different case in the boardroom. “He had some peculiar ideas for motivating people,” says Moore. “I had no management experience or training. Unfortunately, neither did Shockley.” Shockley had run a research group at Bell Laboratories, but he had little experience in running a company. In fact, it would be Shockley’s mismanagement of his employees that led the original founders of Intel to break away from his company and start their own.
Shockley had initiated something called the PhD production line. One day, he told Moore and his fellow colleagues, “I’m not sure you’re suited for this kind of a business. We’re going to find out. You’re going to go out there and set up a production line and run it. You know, do the operation, not direct it.” This type of attitude did not go over well with the crew.
Shockley also set up a secret project, which only a few of the young researchers were allowed to be involved in. All of them, however, were made aware of the fact that the project was potentially as important as the invention of the transistor. “In such a small entrepreneurial group, having in-people and out-people created some dissention, the sort of thing that makes it hard to keep everybody working together as a team,” says Moore.
Other examples abound that show how inept Shockley was in motivating his troops. Once, after asking his employees what they would like to do to make their jobs more interesting, it was suggested that they publish some papers. That night, Shockley went home and worked out the theory of an effect in semiconductors. He returned the next day only to tell his staff, “Here. Flesh this out and put your name on it and publish it.” That, according to Moore, was not even the lowest point of his time with Shockley. “The beginning of the end, as far as morale was concerned, occurred when we had a minor problem in the company and Shockley decided that the entire staff was going to have to take lie detector tests to find out who was responsible for it,” says Moore.
Shockley had won a Nobel Prize, making the complaints of many of the company’s junior researchers fall on deaf ears. “We were told essentially that Shockley was in charge, and if we didn’t like it we probably ought to look at doing something else,” recalls Moore. That is exactly what eight of them decided to do. And, it was a lesson that neither Moore nor Noyce would forget.
In founding Intel, the pair introduced a very casual working atmosphere that today has become typical of many California-based IT companies. They placed importance on one-on-one meetings with subordinates, where the subordinate controlled the meeting agenda. Along with that openness, came responsibility. Noyce and Moore understood that it was in giving their young, bright employees the space to accomplish what they wanted that would, in the end, serve as their best motivation.
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