The Decline and Fall of Microsoft? Part 2.

If you have ever had to manage employees, you’ve probably had to deal with performance reviews. A performance review gives you an opportunity to discuss an employee’s effectiveness at reaching previously established goals and gives you an opportunity to establish new goals for the next review period.

It is my experience that reviews, although painful to perform, are extremely successful at accomplishing one thing: getting employees to focus on whatever metrics you are using to measure them. If you rate them on finished widgets per hour, they will give you lots of widgets. If you measure them on the quality of produced widgets, they will give you very fine widgets. People are smart – they will focus on what you consider important.

This principle applies at the institutional level, too. If the CEO establishes a set of goals, his/her lieutenants will work to accomplish those goals. The lieutentants will accomplish this by turning around and establishing goals for their own lieutenants (captains or sergeants or whatever the right rank would be). Ultimately, some shmoe will be tasked with accomplishing some specific micro-goal that contributes to the überscheme.

And thus, bad policy can flow from top to bottom.

In my 11 years at Microsoft, I never had a manager (and I had at least 6 during that time) that valued people Management. Not a single manager who set goals for me that included developing my people. Not a one ever asked me to read The One Minute Manager or The Pursuit of Excellence. I generally had excellent “employee feedback” scores, but received few kudos for them. I’m pretty sure my experience was not unique. My fellow managers certainly did not spend much time discussing their management theories or employee enrichment programs with me. Microsoft valued management to the extent that it helped deliver great product but never from the perspective of delivering great people.

Microsoft (at least, from 1987-98) was a very technology driven and product driven company. Software developers were tasked with completing components on time. Development managers were charged with delivering product. Business Unit Managers were measured on whether they won or not. Did they ship their product? Was it reviewed better than the competitions’? Was it outselling the competition?

The old “Systems” group at Microsoft was particularly known for its hard driving fashion. While the Applications group was known for being methodical and consistent, the Systems group was intense and mercurial. Steve Ballmer always paid special attention to Systems and drove it hard. Developers were expected to write tight, fast, code at breakneck speeds. Test was expected to validate code against dozens of different OEM systems. Program Managers scurried to coordinate Development, Test and User Ed. Screaming was a completely acceptable form of employee motivation. It was okay that Windows 95 was a year late because, heck, it would have been 3 years late had management not pushed so hard.

The arrival of Dave Cutler did little to change this. Windows NT was run in a similar fashion (although with a truly excellent crew; if Cutler yelled at you it was probably because you screwed something up.) If anything, the success of Windows NT and Cutler helped to reinforce the Systems culture. If Windows 95 had given screaming a black eye, Windows NT had helped to heal the welt and make screaming acceptable again.

And thus, decades later, Microsoft finds itself with an executive staff that knows little about good people Management (with a capital M). The Developers and Development Managers and Business Unit Managers are now the Architects and Vice Presidents and Executive Vice Presidents who run the company. Having never experienced good people management it’s difficult for them to spontaneously develop such skills themselves.

I still have many friends at Microsoft and several of them are exactly these Architects, VPs and EVPs. They are fine people with tremendous technical skills. Some of them have learned business skills and understand their markets remarkably well. They understand their competition, they understand the business and they understand the underlying technology. When I step back and consider them as a whole, with few exceptions (TW, KR, SD – you know who you are), I know that none of them were chosen for their positions because they were great at managing people. On the contrary, when I look at senior Microsoft executives (at least, the ones I’ve met), I can say that many of them are well known for having poor people skills.

This then is my first observation regarding the Decline and Fall of Microsoft: it is doomed because it has failed to develop a culture of excellence with regards to management. It has defined quality management only from the perspective of delivering product and not from the perspective of managing people well and delivering talent.

Hiring people from outside the company does not help. Already, Microsoft consumes a large percentage of the available talent pool. There are hundreds of development and managerial jobs that go unfilled because quality people can not be found. The company has had to lower its hiring standards to simply be able to limp along. When outside managers are hired, it doesn’t take them long to figure out how  they’re being measured.

As long as the company cares only about product, that’s all that it will get. What it doesn’t “get” however, is that the best way to develop quality product is to first develop quality people. Take some of the old-time developers (AP, RM, JG, you know who you are) and have them teach mediocre developers to be great developers. Send first-level managers to management classes run by outside firms. Set management goals at all levels that provide incentives for internal employee development and promotion. Measure people on their ability to develop others and watch what happens.

I think this is unlikely to happen. Large companies have a tendency to become “brittle”. The ranks of Microsoft managers consist of people who are already culturally acclimated to the norm and who have little incentive to bring up such initiatives. Microsoft will continue to lose good people to other companies. College graduates, already leery of Microsoft, will increasingly choose to take jobs elsewhere. Microsoft will end up with the kind of folk that it used to scorn when it was a small company.

The rest is simply “math”. Eventually, Windows and Office (and their offspring) will not be enough to pay the bills. There’s only so much you can do when you near 100% market share. Microsoft needs to develop successful new product lines. Does it have the right people to make this happen?

192 Responses to “The Decline and Fall of Microsoft? Part 2.”

  1. Mariko Boen says:

    Hey there! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with Search Engine Optimization? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good gains. If you know of any please share. Many thanks!

  2. I just added this blog to my google reader, excellent stuff. Cannot get enough!

  3. Ivan Lokke says:

    Good day! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!

  4. Nick Koroma says:

    This web site does not show up correctly on my droid – you may wanna try and fix that

  5. I really like your wordpress theme, where would you get a hold of it through?

  6. Mitchel Dutt says:

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything

  7. I’m grateful for having you as a friend!

  8. Google says:

    Always a major fan of linking to bloggers that I adore but do not get a great deal of link appreciate from.

  9. Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a couple of unrelated data, nonetheless genuinely really worth taking a appear, whoa did one particular master about Mid East has got additional problerms too

  10. below you will obtain the link to some web pages that we consider you must visit

  11. always a huge fan of linking to bloggers that I adore but really don’t get a lot of link enjoy from

  12. 710 king pen says:

    please stop by the websites we follow, including this one particular, as it represents our picks through the web

  13. very handful of internet websites that happen to become comprehensive below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well really worth checking out

  14. Here is a great Blog You might Discover Interesting that we Encourage You

  15. just beneath, are quite a few absolutely not connected web sites to ours, nevertheless, they’re surely really worth going over

  16. gay sohbet says:

    we came across a cool web-site which you could possibly enjoy. Take a search when you want

  17. we like to honor quite a few other net web sites on the web, even when they arent linked to us, by linking to them. Under are some webpages really worth checking out

  18. I think other website owners should take this site as an example , very clean and great user friendly style.

  19. the time to read or check out the subject material or internet sites we have linked to below the

  20. netprobk says:

    although websites we backlink to below are considerably not associated to ours, we really feel they are essentially really worth a go through, so possess a look

  21. below youll find the link to some web sites that we assume you need to visit

  22. Here is a good Weblog You may Uncover Exciting that we Encourage You

  23. always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I really like but really don’t get a great deal of link like from

  24. check beneath, are some absolutely unrelated sites to ours, nevertheless, they’re most trustworthy sources that we use

  25. The data mentioned inside the article are some of the ideal obtainable

  26. Family says:

    usually posts some incredibly fascinating stuff like this. If youre new to this site

  27. one of our visitors lately suggested the following website

  28. The facts talked about inside the report are several of the best offered

  29. some truly tremendous work on behalf of the owner of this web site, utterly great articles.

  30. Umzugsdienst says:

    the time to read or take a look at the subject material or web pages we’ve linked to beneath the

  31. Sites of interest we have a link to

  32. xnxc says:

    just beneath, are numerous completely not associated web-sites to ours, nevertheless, they are certainly worth going over

  33. below youll find the link to some web-sites that we assume you need to visit

  34. Google says:

    Below youll come across the link to some sites that we believe you’ll want to visit.

  35. Sites of interest we’ve a link to

  36. Here are some of the web sites we advise for our visitors

  37. although internet sites we backlink to beneath are considerably not associated to ours, we really feel they may be in fact really worth a go by means of, so possess a look

  38. Jamb says:

    we prefer to honor a lot of other world-wide-web web-sites on the net, even when they arent linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages really worth checking out

  39. Here are several of the web pages we advocate for our visitors

  40. Best songs says:

    although sites we backlink to beneath are considerably not related to ours, we really feel they’re basically worth a go by way of, so possess a look

  41. although web sites we backlink to below are considerably not connected to ours, we really feel they may be truly worth a go as a result of, so have a look

  42. Sites of interest we have a link to

  43. Sites of interest we’ve a link to

  44. the time to study or take a look at the content or sites we’ve linked to beneath the

  45. Every as soon as inside a when we decide on blogs that we read. Listed beneath are the most up-to-date web sites that we choose

  46. The information and facts mentioned in the report are several of the top obtainable

  47. Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine several unrelated information, nonetheless seriously worth taking a look, whoa did 1 find out about Mid East has got extra problerms as well

  48. here are some links to sites that we link to because we consider they’re really worth visiting

  49. The details mentioned in the write-up are several of the very best readily available

  50. I like this site because so much utile material on here : D.

  51. Dank vapes says:

    here are some links to web sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting

  52. strap-on says:

    The information mentioned within the report are some of the very best readily available

  53. dildo says:

    just beneath, are several absolutely not related web-sites to ours, on the other hand, they are surely worth going over

  54. usually posts some pretty intriguing stuff like this. If youre new to this site

  55. Here is an excellent Weblog You may Obtain Interesting that we Encourage You

  56. Here are several of the websites we advocate for our visitors

  57. just beneath, are numerous completely not connected web pages to ours, even so, they are surely worth going over

  58. Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a number of unrelated information, nonetheless seriously really worth taking a appear, whoa did one discover about Mid East has got much more problerms at the same time

  59. Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a few unrelated information, nonetheless actually really worth taking a search, whoa did one particular find out about Mid East has got much more problerms too

  60. Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a number of unrelated data, nevertheless seriously really worth taking a look, whoa did one discover about Mid East has got additional problerms also

  61. The details mentioned inside the write-up are a few of the most beneficial offered

  62. here are some hyperlinks to web pages that we link to due to the fact we consider they’re really worth visiting

  63. usually posts some extremely intriguing stuff like this. If youre new to this site

  64. please pay a visit to the internet sites we comply with, such as this a single, because it represents our picks through the web

  65. we prefer to honor several other internet web-sites around the internet, even when they arent linked to us, by linking to them. Beneath are some webpages worth checking out

  66. we came across a cool web page that you simply may possibly love. Take a appear in case you want

  67. although internet sites we backlink to beneath are considerably not associated to ours, we feel they are essentially really worth a go by means of, so possess a look

  68. we came across a cool web-site which you might enjoy. Take a search for those who want

  69. The info mentioned inside the post are a few of the top readily available

  70. Here are some of the sites we suggest for our visitors

  71. Here are some of the sites we suggest for our visitors

  72. just beneath, are several entirely not related web-sites to ours, even so, they may be certainly really worth going over

  73. Every as soon as inside a whilst we select blogs that we read. Listed beneath would be the latest web-sites that we select

  74. that is the end of this write-up. Here youll locate some web-sites that we feel you will appreciate, just click the hyperlinks over

  75. Here are several of the web pages we recommend for our visitors

  76. The info talked about within the post are several of the very best offered

  77. Every the moment inside a though we opt for blogs that we study. Listed below are the most recent web sites that we pick out

  78. Here is a great Blog You might Find Exciting that we Encourage You

  79. Scam says:

    we like to honor numerous other world wide web web pages around the net, even though they arent linked to us, by linking to them. Beneath are some webpages really worth checking out

  80. please stop by the web pages we comply with, which includes this a single, as it represents our picks through the web

  81. usually posts some incredibly interesting stuff like this. If youre new to this site

  82. Here are a number of the sites we advise for our visitors

  83. Every the moment inside a though we select blogs that we study. Listed beneath would be the most recent web-sites that we select

  84. very handful of internet websites that take place to be comprehensive beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly properly really worth checking out

  85. Barry Kopay says:

    I was more than happy to seek out this web-site.I needed to thanks to your time for this glorious read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I’ve you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you blog post.

  86. Free Ads says:

    Here are a number of the web sites we advocate for our visitors

  87. that would be the finish of this post. Right here youll locate some internet sites that we feel you will appreciate, just click the links over

  88. Here are several of the sites we advocate for our visitors

  89. mog says:

    Here are some of the internet sites we suggest for our visitors

  90. one of our visitors just lately suggested the following website

  91. Vape sale says:

    one of our visitors recently recommended the following website

  92. check beneath, are some totally unrelated internet sites to ours, nevertheless, they’re most trustworthy sources that we use

  93. we came across a cool website that you simply could get pleasure from. Take a search when you want

  94. we came across a cool web site that you just may possibly take pleasure in. Take a appear when you want

  95. Google says:

    Here are some hyperlinks to internet sites that we link to simply because we think they are really worth visiting.

  96. Google says:

    Here are some of the internet sites we suggest for our visitors.

  97. Sites of interest we’ve a link to

  98. that is the end of this article. Right here you will find some websites that we believe you will appreciate, just click the links over

  99. Moon Rocks says:

    we like to honor a lot of other online web sites around the web, even if they arent linked to us, by linking to them. Under are some webpages worth checking out

  100. Sites of interest we’ve a link to

  101. although web sites we backlink to beneath are considerably not associated to ours, we feel they may be actually really worth a go by way of, so possess a look

  102. although internet sites we backlink to below are considerably not related to ours, we really feel they’re actually worth a go by means of, so possess a look

  103. always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I appreciate but really don’t get a lot of link adore from

  104. always a significant fan of linking to bloggers that I love but dont get a whole lot of link appreciate from

  105. Every when in a whilst we pick blogs that we read. Listed beneath would be the most up-to-date web sites that we decide on

  106. headquarters says:

    usually posts some very exciting stuff like this. If you are new to this site

  107. HEXO says:

    just beneath, are quite a few totally not associated web pages to ours, having said that, they’re certainly really worth going over

  108. we came across a cool web-site that you may well enjoy. Take a look for those who want

  109. Here is an excellent Blog You may Come across Fascinating that we Encourage You

  110. just beneath, are various entirely not related web sites to ours, having said that, they are certainly really worth going over

  111. Sites of interest we have a link to

  112. couples toys says:

    please check out the sites we follow, including this a single, as it represents our picks through the web

  113. the time to read or visit the subject material or web-sites we’ve linked to below the

  114. viagra says:

    the time to study or go to the subject material or web-sites we’ve linked to below the

  115. just beneath, are a lot of absolutely not related web-sites to ours, on the other hand, they’re surely worth going over

  116. viagra says:

    Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a few unrelated information, nevertheless seriously worth taking a look, whoa did one learn about Mid East has got far more problerms at the same time

  117. viagra says:

    very couple of web-sites that happen to become comprehensive below, from our point of view are undoubtedly effectively worth checking out

  118. Klik Disini says:

    Here are several of the web pages we advocate for our visitors

  119. viagra says:

    please take a look at the web pages we follow, which includes this one, as it represents our picks from the web

  120. we came across a cool web site that you may possibly delight in. Take a appear if you want

  121. please visit the websites we stick to, like this one, as it represents our picks in the web

  122. viagra says:

    one of our guests recently encouraged the following website

  123. Here is an excellent Blog You might Uncover Fascinating that we Encourage You

  124. below you will locate the link to some sites that we assume you need to visit

  125. cbd oil says:

    always a huge fan of linking to bloggers that I really like but dont get quite a bit of link really like from

  126. Sweext says:

    the time to read or check out the material or web pages we’ve linked to beneath the

  127. Hi there, I read your blogs on a regular basis. Your humoristic style is witty, keep it up!

  128. Every when inside a when we select blogs that we read. Listed below would be the most current web pages that we choose

  129. The information and facts talked about within the article are a number of the very best readily available

  130. Exotic Carts says:

    The data talked about in the report are a few of the very best obtainable

  131. always a massive fan of linking to bloggers that I really like but dont get a great deal of link like from

  132. Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine several unrelated data, nevertheless truly worth taking a look, whoa did one master about Mid East has got extra problerms at the same time

  133. usually posts some extremely fascinating stuff like this. If you are new to this site

  134. one of our visitors lately suggested the following website

  135. usually posts some quite fascinating stuff like this. If youre new to this site

  136. reshp porn says:

    although sites we backlink to below are considerably not connected to ours, we feel they may be basically worth a go via, so possess a look

  137. usually posts some incredibly fascinating stuff like this. If youre new to this site

  138. Google says:

    The information talked about in the write-up are several of the most beneficial offered.

  139. Sites of interest we’ve a link to

  140. we prefer to honor a lot of other web web sites around the net, even if they arent linked to us, by linking to them. Beneath are some webpages worth checking out

  141. always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I really like but dont get lots of link like from

  142. just beneath, are quite a few absolutely not related internet sites to ours, even so, they are surely really worth going over

  143. although sites we backlink to below are considerably not associated to ours, we really feel they are basically really worth a go by means of, so possess a look

  144. you are my inhalation, I possess few blogs and often run out from to post : (.

  145. please stop by the web-sites we comply with, like this 1, as it represents our picks through the web

  146. Sites of interest we’ve a link to

  147. we came across a cool internet site which you might appreciate. Take a search in case you want

  148. very couple of internet websites that happen to become comprehensive below, from our point of view are undoubtedly nicely really worth checking out

  149. cbd gummies says:

    Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine several unrelated information, nonetheless seriously really worth taking a appear, whoa did one understand about Mid East has got extra problerms also

  150. very handful of sites that happen to become comprehensive below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well worth checking out

  151. Google says:

    Although internet websites we backlink to beneath are considerably not related to ours, we feel they may be truly worth a go through, so possess a look.

  152. buy cbd says:

    Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a number of unrelated data, nonetheless seriously really worth taking a appear, whoa did one find out about Mid East has got far more problerms at the same time

  153. cbd oil says:

    Sites of interest we’ve a link to

  154. very handful of internet websites that take place to be in depth below, from our point of view are undoubtedly properly worth checking out

  155. cbd oil says:

    the time to study or check out the subject material or sites we have linked to beneath the

  156. pure cbd says:

    Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a couple of unrelated data, nonetheless truly really worth taking a search, whoa did a single find out about Mid East has got much more problerms at the same time

  157. we came across a cool website that you simply could get pleasure from. Take a appear in the event you want

  158. check below, are some totally unrelated internet sites to ours, nevertheless, they are most trustworthy sources that we use

  159. menards says:

    that would be the finish of this report. Here youll uncover some websites that we believe you will appreciate, just click the hyperlinks over

  160. Every after inside a whilst we pick blogs that we study. Listed below are the most recent web pages that we choose

  161. SEO says:

    we like to honor a lot of other net websites on the web, even though they arent linked to us, by linking to them. Below are some webpages worth checking out

  162. Every once inside a though we select blogs that we read. Listed beneath would be the latest websites that we pick out

  163. although internet websites we backlink to beneath are considerably not related to ours, we really feel they are essentially really worth a go via, so have a look

  164. check below, are some absolutely unrelated sites to ours, on the other hand, they’re most trustworthy sources that we use

  165. that will be the end of this report. Right here youll come across some sites that we feel youll appreciate, just click the links over

  166. check beneath, are some completely unrelated sites to ours, nonetheless, they are most trustworthy sources that we use

  167. just beneath, are various totally not connected web-sites to ours, on the other hand, they are certainly worth going over

  168. Google says:

    Just beneath, are many completely not associated web-sites to ours, nevertheless, they are surely really worth going over.

  169. we came across a cool internet site which you could possibly enjoy. Take a appear if you want

  170. please check out the web pages we comply with, like this 1, as it represents our picks from the web

  171. although websites we backlink to below are considerably not associated to ours, we really feel they’re essentially worth a go by way of, so have a look

  172. below you will find the link to some sites that we believe you need to visit

  173. one of our visitors lately advised the following website

  174. here are some hyperlinks to sites that we link to mainly because we think they are worth visiting

  175. wallet says:

    please stop by the websites we adhere to, like this one particular, because it represents our picks from the web

  176. Tile says:

    Sites of interest we’ve a link to

  177. we came across a cool web page that you may delight in. Take a look for those who want

  178. mercy lyrics says:

    that will be the finish of this article. Right here youll obtain some internet sites that we think youll value, just click the hyperlinks over

  179. Vape shops says:

    very few websites that take place to become comprehensive beneath, from our point of view are undoubtedly well worth checking out

  180. roblox says:

    we came across a cool web-site that you could get pleasure from. Take a appear should you want

  181. usually posts some really fascinating stuff like this. If you are new to this site

  182. the time to study or take a look at the subject material or web-sites we’ve linked to beneath the

  183. the time to read or visit the material or web sites we’ve linked to beneath the

  184. good lawyer says:

    the time to study or go to the content or web sites we have linked to below the

  185. Here are a few of the sites we advocate for our visitors

  186. india visa says:

    Here are a few of the websites we suggest for our visitors

  187. Here are several of the web sites we recommend for our visitors

  188. one of our guests not too long ago advised the following website

  189. Here are a number of the web-sites we advocate for our visitors

  190. just beneath, are a lot of totally not associated web pages to ours, however, they are surely worth going over

  191. The facts talked about inside the article are some of the very best readily available

  192. we came across a cool internet site that you just could possibly take pleasure in. Take a look in the event you want

Leave a Reply