A few comments have come in on the last couple of posts that I wanted to address here rather than replying with additional comments. Someone wrote:
I think we're all hoping that the old growth rate and stock price will come back.
imo, it's just not going to happen for a couple of reasons. Intel now has a market cap of $126B and is in about the top 30 worldwide. There isn't a lot of headroom there. GE is #3 in market cap with $380B, but they are tremendously diversified relative to Intel. Microsoft is number #4 with $295B, but they don't have to pay for fabs. Fabs cost a lot of money, and they depreciate relatively quickly. Another reason is Intel's stock price during the .com boom was simply unreasonable for a manufacturing company. The market does what it does, but the stock price is at a more reasonable p/e ratio now than it was in 2000. I'd love to see stock back up to $30+ as well. It's going to take a lot more revenue to get it there.
There were some good comments about focal from the In the news II post. I encourage you to read those few comments if you haven't done so. They reflect the diversity of options about focal. One commenter said:
Focal pushes employees to do what will look good at focal, not what's good for the company.
There's no doubt that's true. But I'm not sure it's significantly different at other companies. People always tend to do what's best for them, whether it's sucking up to the boss, or spinning their work to look better than it is, or lying, cheating, and stealing to get ahead. Some people do these things at Intel, just like they do everywhere else.
I'll admit to being very conflicted about the focal process. As an employee, and especially as a manager, I find it an unpleasant experience to go through. Some dislike it less than I do, but I don't know anyone who looks forward to it. The idea of focal is (I think) to put some process and objectivity around an inherently subjective process. It's by no means perfect, and it can be painful, but overall I think it tends to work. It yields results that generally puts the higher performing people at the top, and the lower performing people at the bottom. Generally. Every time I've taking people through focal I've going into it worried about the outcome, and I come out feeling like it was relatively fair.
I really struggle with the idea of forced distributions. I believe this is done largely because most managers don't deal with poor performers. I see this every day. Too often people get swept into a bad category because of a forced distribution. But conversely, far too many poor performers would never be identified if managers weren't forced to do so.
One year I ended up representing three different groups in focal by myself. I don't remember the circumstances, but two other managers were not there to take their people through the process. Most of the employees were in rank groups where I was the only manager representing them. My boss made me prepare work sheets and take them through the process. The two of us sat in a room for 4 hours discussing each person, with her asking hard questions about the deliverables, and my rankings and ratings. And I had to hit a distribution.
The point is that I wasn't able to go off and just do whatever I wanted to with those people. Going through the process made me think about the people differently than I would have otherwise, and it made me identify the (relatively) slower performers. It was unpleasant, but I got to a good result. My philosophy about focal is that it needs to be improved, and the forced distributions need to be reconsidered. I think of it as similar to the system of government in the U.S: It seems broken, inefficient, tedious, and stupid some of the time. But overall it seems to work, and I'm not sure I could replace it with anything that would work better.