Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Microsoft: reorg, reshuffle, consolidation?

Thank goodness, I felt like we've at least been thrown a bone. Microsoft certainly needed a reorg - something like a good, vigorous shaking of one of those snow-globes. Now, how it's all going to play remains to be seen. But I hope that as part of the good shaking that some of the cruft breaks off and gets swept out and some of the cream rises to the top.

(Believe me, that's a much better metaphor than the enema one I initially started with late last night based off of the initial reorg disclosures in the comments here.)

And Jim, on your slow, shuffle out, don't let the door knob hit you where the dog should 'ave bit you (loud electric guitar chord with some wow-wow). Jim's continued participation in managing Vista just really doesn't make sense to me but I guess it's some kind of face-saving move vs. a public chewing out based on what happened with OS formerly known as Longhorn.

My only cynical take on this reorg is that it can be used as a Three Card Monty to break the continuity of accountable and hit a reset button to start the clock ticking all over again. Is it just shuffling the chairs on the deck of the Titanic (or HMS Blackcomb)? It certainly makes me want to shut up and stop typing and just play a wait and see. One comment from last night had a great insight regarding some of the background to the reorg:

And contrary to others on the board - I actually believe that our challenge in leadership is not having too few people who understand technology - in fact I believe we have too many people who have never had to run a business or figure out a P&L or find a new profitable business venture - JimAl? He probably can't even tell if a P&L is upside down! BrianV? I think the world of him in terms of being an engineer, but understanding how to run a business and make money doing it? He's out of his league. KJ, Raikes, Robbie Bach, Orlando, BillG & SteveB are really our only broadly effective business leaders - I believe we need more of these kinds of guys not less. You'll recall, that as much as BillG is technically smart, he is even more "business smart". He invented an entirely new business model (independantly purchased software) and built a huge partner ecosystem to make that model succeed. Steve knows this and that's why we have a new COO from Walmart and why tomorrow's reorg is going to put business leaders running our businesses rather then techies. We need more business savvy people like Bill and Steve, not less.

Regarding Ballmer & Gates' take on the reorg: why does it all have to be forward looking, positive reasons for doing the reorganization? What's wrong with a little bit of backward looking honesty as to why it was best to do a reorganization? Was Windows a mess? Was MBS adrift and in need of a strong Office integration strategy? Were mistakes made? Admit at least there were and are problems and that the reorganization is going to be effective in dealing with those problems and that executive management will be held accountable for making sure that is so.

At a high level, the reorg appears to be musical chairs at our to be very, very well compensated executive level that really don't have a lot of impact on the hard work of designing, implementing, and testing great products. Now's just a fine time for ripping through some of these orgs and unleashing our old-time promoted-up-through-the-ranks Microsofties into our more dubious product groups just to get them back on track or out of here. But right now, I have zero idea how this affects anyone other than those few individuals mentioned in the reorg today. I have hopes, but not much more.

So, I can't look at this reorg too cross-eyed because we've been overdue. It seems subtle, though, and not as sweeping and drastic and as, well, innovative as it could be. But now, wow, you've really got my attention for the Company Meeting this Friday.

I watched the webcast. My first feeling, after it was over, was: You know, if they did something similar to this every other month or so, I don't think I'd feel all that much like posting here. There's a level of disconnect, a gap, between us and leadership that something like the employee webcast helps to close. Some old-timers have been posting comments here and to their own blogs noting all the times they've met with Steve and Bill and how incredibly impressed they are with their smarts and abilities. I'd like to see that more often than to rely on their public facing interviews which seem so disconnected from reality it makes me wonder which company they are working for.

So, at around thirty-nine minutes into the webcast, SteveB talks about the negative press from Business Week and Forbes. Snippets near that:

  • "This is a great company. This is a company, though, that can and does and needs to improve. It's a company that has always needed, could and did improve."
  • "We shouldn't undersell what we have here."
  • "Last week, or last weekend, was not - it wasn't my most fun time of my twenty-five years at Microsoft. But at the same time, what did it say to me? Okay, for the first time in twenty-five years, all of the discussions we've had internally, about how we go be better, now the press wants to kibitz on. That's okay. As long as we do what we do best. We go out, as we keep improving. Just keep improving. Driving harder. And when we look back, a year from now, after this incredible pipeline has come to market [...] we'll be in a very different spot. [...] Do we have a corporate culture problem? No."

BillG's comments were more around the long perspective that we've been underestimated before and Microsoft perseveres and gets back on top. But what's coming to the rescue? The innovative pipeline. Chances to improve what delayed loading up that innovative pipeline and become leaner and efficient? Unknown.

I want to believe.

p.s.: with a small bit of attention (15 minute count-down clock is around 1:17) some offensive and just way off topic comments have tripped my Bozo meter. I will clear those out, over time, just to reduce some of the noise.

Update: blogger seems wonky - trying to publish a second time. Okay, third try a charm?

No comments:

Post a Comment