Weekly Download 14.15

Here’s a recap of news and notes from around the Web that caught my attention over the past week or so.

download-158006_640Microsoft’s CEO message to employees on July 10 was called Bold Ambition & Our Core. Change is a-comin’. Satya Nadella addresses:

  • A “mobile-first and cloud-first” world.
  • Abandoning “devices and services” which Steven Ballmer rolled out last fall (September, 27 2013 Shareholder Letter), to be replaced by “productivity and platform.”
  • Transitioning from automated business processes to intelligent business processes.
  • Digital work and life experiences.

He comments on culture change:

“Nothing is off the table in how we think about shifting our culture to deliver on this core strategy. Organizations will change. Mergers and acquisitions will occur. Job responsibilities will evolve. New partnerships will be formed. Tired traditions will be questioned. Our priorities will be adjusted. New skills will be built. New ideas will be heard. New hires will be made. Processes will be simplified. And if you want to thrive at Microsoft and make a world impact, you and your team must add numerous more changes to this list that you will be enthusiastic about driving.”

I really like the closing:

“A few months ago on a call with investors I quoted Nietzsche and said that we must have “courage in the face of reality.” Even more important, we must have courage in the face of opportunity. We have clarity in purpose to empower every individual and organization to do more and achieve more. We have the right capabilities to reinvent productivity and platforms for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. Now, we must build the right culture to take advantage of our huge opportunity. And culture change starts with one individual at a time. Rainer Maria Rilke’s words say it best: “The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.” We must each have the courage to transform as individuals. We must ask ourselves, what idea can I bring to life? What insight can I illuminate? What individual life could I change? What customer can I delight? What new skill could I learn? What team could I help build? What orthodoxy should I question? With the courage to transform individually, we will collectively transform this company and seize the great opportunity ahead.”

Teaching Microsoft to Dance

Thai Elephant

Image courtesy of Aduldej / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Twenty-one years ago this month, Lou Gerstner came from RJR Nabisco to take over at IBM. He cut billions of dollars in expenses and made tough decisions that no insider would have made easily, including cutting OS/2 (IBM’s PC Operating System) and eliminating the dress code (pinstripe suits, white shirts, wingtip shoes) and the “no alcohol” policy. At the time, IBM was perilously close to running out of cash. It was expected that Gerstner would oversee the company’s dissolution, but, instead, he executed an extraordinary turnaround that has become a classic business case study.

Certainly the situation today is different at Microsoft, but perhaps no less challenging. Which begs the question: can recently-named CEO Satya Nadella teach Microsoft how to dance?

Satya Nadella certainly forged new ground in his first public speech at Microsoft. For example, he was using an iPad on stage and referencing Android, while there was a relative absence of plugs for Microsoft Hardware.

Here are some of the dimensions of his challenge as I see it:

Old Model New Model
Desktop or Laptop PC Mobile and Cloud
Enterprise I.T. Support Cloud Support
Multi-year Large Enterprise or Package Software Pay-as-you-Go and micro-transactions
Multiple years between major releases A few days (or less) between updates
Focus on I.T. Professional Experience Focus on Consumer Experience
Vertical Stack of Technology Part of a Horizontal Ecosystem
Thick, feature laden client side software Thin mobile or zero footprint services

The list could go on.  Probably the biggest elephant in the room is the culture.  How do you reshape the hide-bound Microsoft ways fast enough to capture market opportunities?  The reshaping of Microsoft has begun—it should be interesting to watch.

In the meantime, I’ll be dusting off my copy of Teaching Elephants to Dance. You can get yours on Amazon for a penny, or spend up for Gerstner’s first-person account, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?