March 28, 2007
@ 03:34 PM

This post was originally meant to be a response to Mini-Microsoft's blog post entitled Mini, a Devil, and Fine Whine where he seems to imply that there is some sort of class struggle going on at Microsoft and also made some calls for radical transparency. However this morning Mini linked to a blog post entitled For want of a shoe, or time for a new rider? on the MSFTextrememakeover blog which is just fire and has distracted me. If you're a Microsoft watcher [or even better a Microsoft exec] you should go ahead and read it, twice even. Key excerpts that lit my fire


MSFT does not appear to have a clear, honestly customer-focused mission that is understood at all levels. Importantly - and perhaps as a result - employees seemingly aren't in total accord or fully bought into it. If MSFT truly believes in "Your potential. Our passion", then it needs to do more than just pay lip-service to it. It needs to open itself to all that that entails (cross-platform support, not playing lock-in games, etc.) and deliver against it.

I see two concerns here. First, the need to move from a culture of "good enough" to one of "excellence" and "insanely great". I've posted about this before. MSFT has a long-standing approach, ingrained via Gates, of getting something - anything - out to market and then fixing it over time. That worked well for a long time when "free" alternatives weren't prevalent, and when competitors/markets weren't moving as quickly as they are today. Now, it's a lot less successful, and yet MSFT continues to do it and be surprised when it fails.

Stop fighting major wars on multiple fronts simultaneously. It is simply ridiculous for current management to assume that MSFT can fight the biggest and best companies on earth, across a dozen or more battlegrounds, and still hope to prevail. Just take a look at some of the folks MSFT is going up against: SONY (and Nintendo) in gaming, Nokia and many others in mobile, GOOG and YHOO in Search, Everyone from Alcatel to Siemens in IPTV, IBM/Oracle/SAP (and smaller players Rightnow, etc.) in ERP and CRM, IBM/Adobe/FOSS in middleware and development, AAPL and most of MSFT's former partners in mobile media, AAPL and GNU/Linux in Operating Systems, and FOSS in personal productivity. Worse, these battles are spreading MSFT too thin, and leaving its core cash cows increasingly vulnerable (would Vista have taken 5 years to develop if management hadn't been distracted with a dozen other battles?).
Public Face

I am sick and tired of MSFT executives "trash" talking competitors in public. This is such a fundamental business tenet that it's an embarrassment to have to even list it.

Like I said, the entire post is really good. As for my response to Mini's Mini, a Devil, and Fine Whine post, here it goes. The kind of people who focus on what the top X% of Microsoft are making are probably not the kind of employees you want to keep around anyway so it seems weird to be catering to them. The concerns that the Microsoft employees whose opinions I value have are all eloquently described in MSFTextrememakeover's post excerpted above. The kind of people who get in a tizzy because some VPs got to attend an expensive award ceremony that they didn't are the kind of whiners and losers you can never make happy so why bother? It's not like they can argue that they are underpaid or that their employment benefits suck. Instead I see it as part of the age of entitlement in America where lots of people believe they deserve to be balling out of control and then gets pissed off when they aren't. The best thing you can do with those kind of people is to show them the door. 


Wednesday, March 28, 2007 5:25:15 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Well it kinda backs the theory that happiness is about doing better than others. For example, there's that question.
"Would you rather make $100K a year at a job where everyone else makes $80K? Or make $120K where everyone else makes $140K." Objectively, it seems you'd be better off at the latter job. But so many choose the former option.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007 6:58:54 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Great post. I also read that Mini post and found it negative to the point of being inactionable.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007 7:21:35 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Dare, I agree with you 100% as usual.
Thursday, March 29, 2007 5:52:55 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I think the issue with the expensive trips is that the 'peons' are being told "weenies not shrimp since we have no more cash", then the elite get flown to a distant caviar dinner.

When I started working at Microsoft, the quote was "employees are our most important asset". And they acted that way.

From the stories I hear from friends who are still there, that changed about 5 years ago. Now shareholders, partners, back scratchers, etc are the important asset. The normal folks producing great software are somewhere way down on the list.

Some people will never be happy. But others will happily work for less $$$ than those around them... if they aren't told it's because there's no money to give to anyone.
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