Microstiff - Microsoft Outings of the Third Kind

Monday, November 27, 2006

Microstiff – Yahoo!’s Game Plan Missing One (1) Essential Ingredient for Success

Yahoo’s Senior Vice President of Communications, Communities, and Front Doors, Brad Garlinghouse and his courageous call to arms says, “The plan here is not perfect; it is, however, FAR better than no action at all. There are three pillars to my plan:

1. Focus the vision.

2. Restore accountability and clarity of ownership.

3. Execute a radical reorganization.”

Not so fast! It’s a fine three-pillared vision without MENTION OF A FOUNDATION!

On what are we to build our three pillars? In other words: “What continually and everlastingly SUPPORTS our pillars of success? The following:

1. Mission – purpose, business, values. Why do we exist? What do we do and what are our values in place for pursuing those goals?

2. Policies - that provide employees with guidance and company-wide expectations regarding company issues pertinent to our business, customers, suppliers and stockholders.

3. Procedures – Effective and efficient ways to accomplish missions, policies and business plans.

The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where Robert Kennedy was assassinated, was built upon a solid foundation. Today, after years of decay, it is now a new public school with parts of its original “pillars” in place.

The government of the United States is built on a solid foundation known as the Constitution and its amendments. The mission and policies and some procedures are clearly spelled out for all to follow. Leaders of all three branches come and go but the government successfully moves on. Feedback is constantly provided by constituents to provide laws and amendments, where necessary.

And so, it is the FOUNDATION which must be reviewed and shored up, FIRST, by Yahoo and Microsoft in order to provide a safe and sturdy site for rebuilding their dreams; so that buildings and people may come and go but…the mission, with its policies and procedures…lives on. Without this, there is nothing.

The Military Model

Why is it that troops can come and go and no matter where or who they are, the mission can be accomplished with effectiveness and efficiency…time and time again? And it doesn’t matter the branch: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. I am not talking battlefield here, since implementation and planning of battles is a very creative and precarious undertaking.

I am talking about the day-to-day successful running of the military. For those of us who have been in, we remember occasional waiting but more likely, clearly stated goals and means to achieve them. Clean chain of command. Clear career path. Few politics. Little overstaffing. No hidden agendas. No hiding. Accountability. Camaraderie. Closeness. Merit-based raises and grade changes.

Why? Clear mission statement. Clear Policies. Clear Procedures backed up by clear consequences for non-performance (reduction in rank, courts martial, brig, confined to quarters)


That before Yahoo begins to rebuild on three pillars, they take a hard look at their foundation:

1. Mission Statement - purpose, business, values. It is here where they can discover their true purpose and weed out the dead ends and pet projects.

2. Policies – revitalize and reexamine the “rules” that provide employees with guidance and company-wide expectations pertinent to those helping to carry out their mission.

3. Procedures – An ongoing fine tuning of the ways to get business done.

Strong Leadership Needed

The new and energized “foundation” must be embraced wholly by the CEO and sold upwards to the board of directors and downward throughout the company. Although amendments are encouraged, a fierce loyalty to the “foundation” -- the constitution -- must be fomented and thereby protected by the CEO.

Good Foundation? The Pillars Can Change

Employees, Troops, Tools, Buildings, Innovation can come and go but, the “foundation” remains intact. How else can the Twin Towers grow into a magnificent structure to pay homage to those who lost their lives and at the same time, conduct new and exciting business as usual?

First Things First

And so, Yahoo!, your pillars have changed. Time to build and/or reshape new ones. Do so in the knowledge that a solid foundation all but guarantees the success of your new business pillars. After that, the price of pristine pillars is eternal vigilance. Hmmm. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Mini-Microsoft: Limited Round-Up, New Souls, and Old Problems
Mini-Microsoft: A Peanut Butter Manifesto for Microsoft to Chew On

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