Microstiff - Microsoft Outings of the Third Kind

Monday, January 15, 2007

Microstiff – Thoughts on Good Managers and Visionaries as well as CEO's, Sales People, Testers, Developers, Programmers and Pounders


As Mini contributors, we all search for truth and solutions to the “Microsoft Problem”. This is not so much out of ego as it is the realization of our own true powerlessness and the desire to “make a difference” in the face of this huge, stumbling corporation with no moral or product compass... known as Microsoft.

Why do we care? Because we all love “all things computing” and the world, both fantasy and real...that it creates. We are hooked and...we want to make a difference; a difference in the computing devices themselves or...a difference in the way they are used.

To that end, I address the main topic with care and deliberateness as I attempt, once again, to help you...and me...to make sense of...Microsoft.


Good Managers – Good managers “get things done”; they accomplish the mission. They carry out corporate and departmental policy and procedure. “Really good” managers also motivate people. They get “people” done. They care. Morale is high in their department and people do their jobs knowing they can grow and be treated fairly and be listened to. Absenteeism is low. A team spirit pervades.

However, simply being a good manager is NOT ENOUGH. There must be a systemic proliferation of the attributes of good MANAGEMENT throughout the organization. Good management is the establishment of and striving for attainable goals, fair and appropriate policies and effective and efficient procedures. Additionally, it is the “care and feeding” of those goals, policies and procedures that is essential for continued good management.

Are there good managers at Microsoft? Yes. Does Microsoft have good management? Empirically and anecdotally...a resounding NO! How else the current problems?



What Needs to Change

  1. Admit there is a problem “at all levels”

  • The first step in any and all problem solving scenarios

  1. See Management as a “Science”; one that can be learned and improved upon

  • A body of principles

  1. Create Microsoft Management Training and follow-up feedback loops

  • Require all candidates to take the initial “primary” course before becoming managers

  1. Create a Panel for Corporate Policy

  • Seed it with members from all corporate disciplines with Carte Blanche ideas and no penalty for presenting them

  1. Rewrite Corporate Policy

  • Examples:

  • Rules of Corporate Behavior

  • Meetings will be “on time” or you will be “locked out”; Late three (3) times, you'll be written up...period!


  • Customer is # 1 and will be the first consideration in ALL discussions.

  • Published agenda for all meetings; Off Topic will NOT be discussed, minimizing politics.

  1. Rewrite Corporate Procedures

  • Eliminating waste and areas where politics can spawn

  1. Rewrite Departmental Policy

  • In line with corporate policies

  1. Rewrite Departmental Procedures

  • In line with corporate policies and procedures

  1. Enforce Corporate and Departmental Policies and Procedures

  • Rigorously and with significant consequences in place for failure to abide

  1. Revisit Management, Mission, Policy and Procedures...continually

  • Continually!


Visionaries – Ones who dream of solutions to unknown problems. Ones whose minds are unfettered and unconcerned with details inherent in managing people and things. Visionaries are not good managers because it doesn't interest them. Visionaries make our world interesting but not organized, unless of course, their invention and innovation happens to...organize things.

Are there any visionaries at Microsoft? Anecdotally and empirically...NO! Ray Ozzie is too code-centric to qualify...for now. His innovation attempts to organize things and people but...there is no hook! R ay has failed to excite the customer as well as the marketing department. And, he has failed to...talk it up!


CEO's – CEO's have their finger on the pulse of the corporation. It is they who are the most responsible for profits. Under their watch, corporate policy and procedure is imagined, written and enforced; it trickles -- cascades – downward through the corporation. It is they who carefully, delicately and religiously insure that the corporation grows and prospers and maintains its balance. Policy and procedures are the road map for that balance.

Under this definition, does the Microsoft CEO perform his job well. Anecdotally and empirically...NO!


Sales People – Visionaries who can convince and LOVE to get paid for it! Take ideas from other visionaries and run with them. Simplify them for the customers. Always thinking of the customers unless...they are ego centric to the point that they only think of themselves. If, after you introduce them to the new policies and procedures, they continue to lie, fabricate and think of themselves...fire their asses!

Are there good sales people at Microsoft? You bet. They have average products to sell in great numbers. They are not happy with the product but...there's too much money to be made because of the numbers. They love the money! Give them something better to sell and they will love you even more. But, don't try to convince them that their current products are the best in the world. You cannot bullshit a bullshitter.

Is there a problem with the Sales Department at Microsoft? Probably not, if left to selling only. It is highly likely, though, that an attitude adjustment is in order through the new corporate policies and procedures. One can be weaned off of arrogance, hubris and grandiosity. I know. I've done it. With help.


Developers, Programmers, Testers – The manufacturing aspect of Microsoft; the creators of clever and quality gears and inner workings of lackluster products. Once proud and motivated and paid well from stock holdings, these talented folks are stuck in an organization without purpose; designing, creating and proving mismanaged products with no vision. T hese folks, as long as they stay on board, are the TRUE VICTIMS at Microsoft. Outside of Microsoft, the true victims, of course, are the CUSTOMERS.


Pounders – Pounders are partners or founders of the company. It is not clear what pounders do except they represent a cash drain on the corporation of over $1 billion per year...every year. They should probably leave. Will they? Not without being thrown out. Would you?


Mini-Microsoft: The Good Manager, etc, etc, ...

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