Average vs Great Leaders

Summary : The average leader retreats to the safety of marcom and IR tricks and denials when surprised by a competitor’s market advance. The great ones steel their organization by internally attacking their product deficiencies in a ruthless march to regain superiority.

Externally, they often give the appearance of ignoring the issue so they can later catch the competitor off-guard.  Finally, they turn and charge the competitor, stopping the competitor’s momentum and turning the market.

If you peruse a list of our Top 10 suppliers of the past, you will find many companies who disappeared because they ‘shot the messenger’ and many who have stood the test of time by facing up to their problems.  Today’s leaders of test, assembly, wafer process, and process diagnostics (Teradyne, Kulicke & Soffa, Applied Materials, and KLA-Tencor) all have a track record of turning lost market leadership positions.  In every case, whether it was Teradyne in linear test, K&S in automatic wire bonders, Applied Materials in etch, or KLA-Tencor in reticle inspection, the path to success was not tread until the leader had made a realistic assessment of the situation.  The same is true for new market entries, just look at how Applied Materials tripped with the initial introduction of the Mirra and then turned it all around by re-developing the product until it held the high ground in customer needs.  Contrast this to Lam Research’s failed CVD entry of years past.  They responded to failure by renaming and re-launching the same products.  Within a couple of years, they had abandoned the battlefield.  Lam was turned when more realistic management took over and refocused the company. Then went on to buy Novellus, which bought them a true leadership position in deposition.

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