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Intel criticised for constructive criticism

Destructive criticism, innit?

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A damaging dialogue is the essence of Intel's business methods, according to a number of ex-employees canvassed over the last six months.

The technique, in which dialogue takes the form of fists crashing on the table, voices being raised and arguments a sine qua non and even a summum bonum is the quintessence of Intel business methods. [That's enough Latin, laddy. Back in your box - Ed.]

One senior architect, still active in the industry but no longer working for Chipzilla, told The Register earlier this week that when he graduated from college as an electronics engineer, he joined the firm bright and bushy tailed, only to have the idealism knocked out of his system by the managerial system, first architected by Andy Grove, Intel employee number three. The young man is now over his bitterness.

But a former employee of Intel who now pursues a career as a bitter, twisted, opinionated and anally-retentive hack [who that? -Ed], said it was virtually impossible to get ideas accepted by bosses, who would rather cover their back and their stock options than accept sensible, run-of-the mill ideas. Intel employees who have several years of service with Chipzilla and therefore stacks of stock options are known internally as Excels, after the spreadsheet macros they routinely run to see how rich they are.

A press relations person who now works in Intel Middle Europe and was formerly a journalist, said his first encounter with the routine "constructive criticism" left him reeling, gasping and to cash in a phrase, ashen-faced.

At an Intel Developer Forum last year, The Register interrogated a senior executive about its future chipset plans and we wouldn't take no comment for an answer. Subsequently, next to the water cooler, we said we hoped he didn't mind the persistent and aggressive way we were putting our questions. He told us: "No, that's quite all right, it's nothing compared to the constructive criticism sessions we undergo at Intel inside."

And in Taipei last week, a former employee of the Intel Corporation told us that while the technique was originally invented to clear the air and avoid the infighting and politics rampant in many large corps, it made for poor morale in general and for bad decisions in particular.

Andy Grove is 62. Mike Magee is five and a half. INTC's share price is lower than it was this time last week. ®

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