Tuesday, July 25, 2006

We Are FAM-ily! - Links+

I look forward to the day when Microsoft leadership can strut onto the stage at the annual Financial Analysts Meeting to the glorious high-fiving pumping sound of Sister Sledge letting loose with a victorious "We Are FAM-ily!" as everyone celebrates the incredible ascent of the Microsoft stock price.

It won't be this Thursday.

The discomfort has set in and the pointy sticks are out. No more of this waiting until next year or the product pipeline of glory on the way. It's time to get down to the brass tacks. "Show us the money: where it's being spent, where it will be spent, and where it's going to be coming from."

What questions would you ask if you were an attendee at FAM? Mine would focus on accountability and, as part of looking where the money is being spent and rewards for our current accomplishments, wanting to understand more about the upcoming August SPSA grant-award, what % level it's going out at, and what the total cost of that is. How has it been a good investment with a good return?

Other interesting things:

  • Vista slip? One commenter thinks the buy-back we've announced is meant to stabilize the stock should we soon announce a Vista slip.
  • WSJ: thank you for the kinder, gentler Steve Ballmer graphic with the recent Zune article. It's much improved over the snarling Orc Ballmer.
  • Swan song for Microsoft's music allies CNET News.com Speaking of Zune: Zunked? Are we screwing our partners? I don't think so. We've given them a great platform to implement Plays for Sure and plenty of time to innovate long before we come along and try implementing a device. Anyone who can implement a WiFi sync has my money. Freaking wires. I just want to come home and unbeknownst to me have any interesting syndicated content (like a podcast) synchronized to my device so that I can discover and listen to it the next day. Plus Zune is a platform, too.
  • Good long comment on Big Bets: Long Term investments: how long is long enough? Microsoft has ruthlessly killed projects off in the past or sold the properties off. Have we lost the cancellation mojo? A number of discussions in the last post went over the financials and wondering when enough is enough and it's time to throw in the towel (now that we have an abundance of those). Are we playing to win or playing not to lose?
  • The Post Money Value The Microsoft Manifesto - Rick Segal's take on the recent Twelve Principles.
  • Workplace Advantage Planning - Adam Barr discusses the designs being worked on for new workplace areas at Microsoft. What do you think? Given that at least one comment was posted about this with great envy I think some folks are looking forward to working like this.
  • Misunderstanding "The Innovator's Dilemma" - Mr. Barr again, spanking me for a coupling of The Innovator's Dilemma with the pulled private folder feature. Nice read, even if it hurts. That original thread here was interesting because (1) some IT folks weren't too happy with my grumbling, (2) others pointed out that it's really hard for us, having one OS now, to serve two masters: consumer (more whizzy features!) and corporate (nothing new! Don't break anything! Keep it stable!). It's a pickle.
  • Musings on Software and Technology » Blog Archive » Whats going on - Musing on the Mini-Microsoft-like sites springing up (plus an interesting comment from Shel Israel). Let's see, the active list looks like:
  • Official Google Research Blog Hiring The Lake Wobegon Strategy - I've been meaning to drop this link in for a while. Something I didn't know about Google hiring: the hiring manager is not allowed to be part of the interview process. Google hires for the company, not for a particular position. Hmm!
  • iCup? Oh where is my Starbucks iCup? Perhaps a war over Starbucks beans? Perhaps we just have to wait until summer is over?
  • Mini-Microsoft Cutting Room Floor (Feed) - What The HECK? Yes, occasionally I'll share the kind of comments that just don't make it through now that I'm moderation 100% of the time. I wish for a better commenting system with a secondary "all comments" page where I can bring up into the cream the comments I approve and everyone can roll-around in the ones I don't, should you desire. But this will do for now. Some of the comments just about make it... if only they just didn't go and use that ever so witless M$. Others can just be wildly off-topic or just something I don't want to show up here. Okay there. Not here.

And lastly: I think it's too early to judge the review system change. All I know is that there are probably a legion of managers wanting to string-up whoever was responsible for getting rid of the performance curve. It must take ten times the amount of effort to enter numbers into the review tool and try to reconcile compensation across the organization. I don't think this is a bad thing - it's the kind of work we get paid to do.

But the stack rank is still there. But we can be honest with our review feedback. Kind-of. The curve is still there, just sort of blurry and a bit more gracious.

The dissonance of change is pretty heavy right now and, personally, I'm feeling a leadership gap to help us keep our balance now that the training wheels are off and we're wobbling along down the road. My guess is that we'll develop some best practices out of what we learn this year to have an even better next year. But right now? Scuffs and scabs.

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