The Usefulness of a Counterweight

In High Output Management, Andy Grove combines two familiar idea, strategic tradeoffs and measures, to advocate for counterweights.

Grove encourages organizations to measure progress toward goals, but warns of the potential risks: “...because indicators direct one’s activities, you should guard against overreacting. This you can do by pairing indicators, so that together both effect and counter-effect are measured.”

As an example, an organization whose goal is to grow its number of franchises or sell a quantity of products can easily lose focus on the quality of those franchises or the customer satisfaction with those products.

By tracking your progress alongside the potential risks, you’re more likely to maintain balance. Grove argues that “joint monitoring is likely to keep things in the optimum middle ground.”

This simple idea also translates to our personal lives. Having friends or significant others that can provide an alternative perspective is an important counterweight. Seeking out news and beliefs that challenge our biases keeps us more open to dialogue and understanding.

Creating counterweights in our lives takes some extra work, but, as Grove explained, it will help us to “keep things in the optimum middle ground.”