The Unofficial Intel Blog

Poking the beehive with a stick

Friday, May 19, 2006

Mini Microsoft

If you haven't read it, you should probably go and see what is happening there:
Microsoft just did away with their "stack" ranking system, a system which as I've seen it described is similar to Intel's "Focal" process with its focus on ranking and rating.

It is becoming increasingly clear that this model may not be the optimum. There is a bunch of literature about this, but the one which seems to ring true with a lot of people is a simple article on compensation by Mary Poppendieck which you can read here:

It will be interesting to see how long it takes Intel to respond...


At May 19, 2006 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I expect Intel to keep using its FOCAL system (with ongoing tweaks, such as getting rid of the trending we used to have).

The reason for this is that Intel is resistant to change. Microsoft realized that it had some VERY UNHAPPY employees on its hands. Intel does still continues to treat its employees as if it is a privilege for them to be employed by a company as great as Intel.

What management doesn't realize, is that the best people (many of those who made Intel what it has been) have already left. The rest of us drones just toil on, running in place faster and faster, in hopes that our stock options will be worth something before the 10 year expiration date is up.

Yes, many have realized that their options are worthless, and will continue to be worthless until they expire, and have jumped ship to companies with better prospects, and better and more human HR policies.

You heard the comments from the shareholders' meeting. There are some PISSED OFF stockholders out there, and even MORE pissed off employees out there. I even heard one comment about when they are going to get rid of Paul Otellini, which CRB answered that the situation is not a "fireable offense".

Like my prediction earlier, I give him 3-4 years, tops. Eric Kim, 2 years to get SMG in shape. Between Anand and Eric, Eric will take the fall for poor marketing, and Anand will come out smelling like a rose.

BTW, I've heard pretty strong rumors of layoffs....not called that the neighborhood of 15-20,000 heads. If you haven't polished up your resume, YOU BETTER START NOW. Particularly if you are in CIG or any non-core group. That means you too, Josh !!

At May 23, 2006 4:42 PM, Anonymous Bryan Hinton said...

Death to FOCAL - I can only hope that we follow MS lead - time for the system to change - give managers the chance and the responsibility to rank their employees - fitting the curve gives them an out and means that the focus is on fitting the people into the curve rather than truly evaluating people.

At May 24, 2006 11:30 PM, Blogger Posty said...

Here's another article about the new changes at MS:,1759,1966584,00.asp?kc=EWRSS03119TX1K0000594

" "It still doesn't change the fundamental fact that the real problem continues to remain: A bloated, ineffective, self-serving rank of senior and executive managers who can't make good decisions quickly enough and who perpetuate a bureaucracy that makes it absolutely untenable for the next generation of leaders to thrive," wrote another anonymous Mini-Microsoft commenter. "

Does it remind you of any companies you know?

At June 02, 2006 9:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's yet another story (in BusinessWeek no less) about how AMD is kicking the hell out of Intel.

And notice the just wonderful quote from Eric Kim about putting genies back in the bottle.

What the heck does that mean? What is he trying to say? If I was him I'd be talking about unleashing an assault to win back market share, not about genies. Give me a break....

If Intel doesn't get its act together QUICKLY, AMD is going to be at 30% market share and perhaps even 40% by the end of next year.

Throwing marketing dollars at this problem isn't the solution. THe issue is many years of OEM anger at Intel's arrogance.

At June 07, 2006 8:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric Kim and his whole branding campaign and waste of dollars can just go back to Samsung as far as I'm concerned.

As for focal, yeah, the system is as broken as everything else at Intel. The sad thing is that that'll be the LAST thing that has a hope of being fixed in this great "efficiency push."

At June 09, 2006 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Ranking and Rating system (or as us technicians sometimes call it, 'reamed and ruined' or 'rape and rampage') is broken, but nobody in management seems to give a damn.

I am a technician in D1D and have done very well by the R&R system, I now make double per hour what I did when I started and am living a lifestyle far better than I imagened possible.

But just because Intel has treated me very well does not mean I think its fair. I have seen fellow technicians bust their ass for years, even get told they are going to get a promo, that end up getting a pittance.

My ranking group is ranked all the people on each shift in my part of the factory. We talk "TEAM" but at the end of the year the question will be "what did you do?" and there lies the problem. I have zero incentive to go out of my way to train others to do things that only I know how to do, and they have zero incentive to train me. We have every incentive to not "set up" the next shift properly so they look like a bunch of bumbling fools when they do a PM or run wafers.

I dont mean to say we sabotage each other, and frankly, I enjoy training people. But I have worked with a lot of folks that have the "one man band" mentality because the more glory they can have the better they will do at focal. The key for people is to look like you work hard and share knowledge, while doing things yourself as much as possible.

Right now we have a Fab Challenge going on, where if we meet targets of CpK, WIP turns, cost and ISO (a measurement of good die per wafer) we can get a bonus each quarter; $250 if we meet 3/4 and $1000 if we meet 4/4. But we have been set up to fail, and its become a joke to the technicians and engineers in the fab; only the upper management does not seem to get it. Gulsher, are you listning? I doubt it.

For Q4 2005 We were praised by the plant leadership as the fastest, best ramp in Intel history. Yet we only made 2/4 goals of the fab challenge. Sorry, but BS flowery EMAIL and speaches at a BUM are so much smoke being blown up our ass. You set the bar where we could be the best in the world yet not be good enough to meet the challenge. In four quarters we have met the 3/4 goal twice. The way we did it was to put off ordering parts until the next quarter! You can see it as a spike in the "cost" chart at the start of each quarter as pent up parts demand is unleashed on stores.

Intel used to be a great place to work back when Andy Grove was in charge, but under Craig all the employee incentives got slashed, our overtime is now calculated differently, doubletime is now gone for working a fifth or sixth 12 hour day, everything that used to make it more than a job got tossed in the garbage. We even got rid of all the potted plants in the cafe and office areas becuase it saved money. Stupid...why not stop painting the walls too? I imagine that costs more than watering a few dozen plants.

At June 20, 2006 7:36 PM, Anonymous Kicking Pat said...

"OH BOY, DOES it sure pay to have friends in high places at Intel.

With the latest round of reorgs well under way, word has trickled down that the two biggest money losers at Intel, VIIV and Itanic, are not on the chopping block. To make matters worse, our sources say both programs were exempted from the 'we will look at everything' scrutiny that the rest of 'everything' was subjected to.

This is a monumental problem on a scale almost worthy of big blue, and goes to show why I think Intel's management is incapable of solving the problems it faces.

When they stand up in front of the troops and say they won't cut jobs, and then moot a double-digit percentage cull of the company, it has a big morale effect. HR101 here guys. When they say they will look at everything for cuts, and then they exempt the pet projects of the two biggest leaders, well, that shows how serious they are about change.

If you are going to stand up and make bold prognostications in front of the troops, Wall Street, and the assembled unwashed masses, you damn well better do what you say. Exempting the two largest money losers in the company apparently on what appears to be ego grounds is not the way to go about doing this. If there was a good reason to exempt them, you had better make it clear before the word leaks.

Sources on the inside have confirmed the whispers about cuts and lack thereof, and the result is far more serious than any programme going away. Until Intel flat out stops this petty cronyism and actually puts its money where its mouth is, there can be no real reform at the corporation."

At June 28, 2006 11:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Itanium is worth keeping, even if all it does is keep IBM and Sun from dominating the "big iron" computers. Itanium was supposed to be everywhere by now, but x86 kept getting faster and better. But at the highest end of the computing kingdom, Itanium is King.

VIIV would have been a good product five years ago, but now that DRM is everywhere, who the hell wants it? I want a device that will take ALL my media from ALL my sources, put it on a big honking hard drive and play it perfectly, and I want it cheap. So that means it needs an HDMI output for my plasma TV, optical or RCA digital jack for sending the sound to my audio system, a remote that makes everything easy to navigate.

We have to do VIIV, but we need to do it right, which means pouring oodles of cash into advertising and even subsidizing the cost until volumes ramp up. To keep the cost down, we should build everything possible into the circuit board. CPU, video, audio, modem, networking, everything. Hell, dont even use a Windows OS, run some linux in FLASH ROM to make a nice, honest instant on system without a constantly spinning hard drive.

At August 21, 2006 1:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't see a single reason for keeping Itanic, based on the bs we have been fed on FMS or the current R&D drain. The ROI here is so bad it defies all logic and reason to carry this any longer.

Can you just imagine what we could have done, or what we can do with the resources we have burnt supporting this?

Come on Paul, swing the axe where it makes sense!

At September 02, 2006 6:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

even heard one comment about when they are going to get rid of Paul Otellini, which CRB answered that the situation is not a "fireable offense".

When is the board gonna get rid of CRB? Of course its not a fireable offense, PSO is cleaning up CRB's failed vision.


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