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Dinner At Davos With Intel's Craig Barrett.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on January 30, 2009

My first moment of optimism at the World Economic Conference came Thursday night a small dinner with retiring Intel Chairman Craig Barrett. He is riding off into the sunset soon to his ranch in Montana—a ranch you can stay at, ride horses, fly-fish and get pampered.

Barrett said this was his 10th recession. And this, too, would pass. To those of us caught up in the economic crisis, this long-term perspective was comforting. He said, yes, this recession was different, but “they are all different.”

The key to surviving in this kind of environment? Invest into the recession. Barrett said you have to investment into a recession to be more competitive when you come out of it. Cutting costs is a sure way to lose competitive edge. So Intel was closing some of its older factories but expanding its newer plants. And its aiming to diversify into a broader range of chips to drive growth.

Barrett also said that big corporations are really bad at disruptive innovation. The financial constraints are just to tight to allow that kind of risk-taking. He wants the government to put more money into University-based research and large lab-based research. That’s where the new ideas come from that change the world. He graduated from Stanford.

And while he thinks Andy Grove is great, Barrett doesn’t think Grove’s idea for having Intel produce batteries for electric cars (no US company does it), is a good one. Intel just doesn’t have any unique competitive edge in batteries, he said.

That’s the Intel chairman riding off into the sunset,

Then I left for the parties—McKinsey, which had a live band playing LOUD music and the Bollywood Party, where everyone was dancing to the music of India. I hear Mexico threw a good party as well.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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