Sunday, March 11, 2007

Stirring the Microsoft Comment Pot on a Rainy Weekend

I'm quite impressed with the incoming amount of comments. This week, I'm just stirring the pot here - I'm slammed busy at Microsoft and my free time is consumed by developing a strategy to blow the remains of my fun money with an expedition to Molbaks (because you must have a plan before entering Molbaks, lest you succumb to vertigo given all the abundance).

They Done Gone and Published a Whitepaper About It: the commitments tool gets a write-up as a showcase piece here: Facilitating Effective Employee Reviews at Microsoft. It might just be jumping the gun to slap the word "effective" in there. I suppose we can expect a write-up on the other tool, Career Compass, Real Soon Now. If I wanted to go for the cheap laughs I could whip up something ripping into the Career Compass tool. While I've been turned off by the initial heavy investment of time (not only as an employee but also as a frazzled manager), I hold some hope in my heart that the payoff is out there and that it doesn't become a time-sink like it is now.

Some reactions to the new HR tools below. I'd also like to read positive impressions of the tools. No, really. In the meantime:

(1) It IS NOT HR's job to have me waste time that I should be spending working with customers, improving my skills on our new technologies, or maybe trying some of that 'life' part of work-life balance going through the BS that is Career Compass and then not getting any "how you're doing so far" feedback on my mid-year.

(2) Career Compass - Christ, what a nightmare that thing is. Tons of busy work, and nothing that I think will ever make a difference in my career. But on the plus side, it did force me to look at how long I've been in my various roles, which helps me get started on my resume. [Mini: same here.]

(3) (What is the rest of the world going to think when they see how complicated the MSFT review process is. It's ironic that we're actually proud of such a monstrosity.)

This is clearly proof that the devil finds work for idle hands.

(4) It wasn't enough for HR to screw around w/the review process and form every review period to justify their existance. No! They had to come up w/CSPs, Career Compas and force us to use crappy Infopath. [...] This is surely a sign that HR has too many people and too much of a budget.

Office 14: Not-so-great / Great! Looking towards the next version of Office, we have some back and forth:

(1) [...] I am at a loss regarding what in the world it is we're going to be selling that is actually interesting to an end user. I ask people what they are excited about on their team and, by the look on their face, you would think they had just caught me with my hand in their pocket. Everyone is just shuffling along, spec'ing or developing or testing whatever boring thing comes their way.

(2) I work in Office too and have a different experience. Most of the teams I work with (Word, Excel, Visio, Proj, Server teams) are well into feature-speccing and prototyping already. Some teams (you probably know which ones...) even have shorter term deliverables. I can guess that some teams (for e.g. the one where everyone left after 2007) are still in a state of limbo and are trying to figure out what to do for 14. I interact with Windows on a frequent basis and I think things are significantly worse there, though.

(3) I work in Office and I've just about had it. I've looked over our O14 planning documents and tried hard to convince myself that the product will be worth 2 more years of my life. But it isn't going to happen.

Office is has a unhealthy combo of bureaucracy and senility. There are more than a few people here who are just hiding behind process to mask their own incompetence. There are even more people here who are just collecting a paycheck while newhires shoulder their work load. I've gone through a few years of this now and I'm done.

Looking For Career Love: the last Office comment above ends with the question:

So my question is this: Office is dying. Where in MS can we start living again?


Random side-question: Which groups do people think are *awesome*? and which ones should be avoided? why so?

Are you in an awesome group? Tell us about it. Awesome-ness should be rewarded by lots of people pounding on the door to get in. Remember that the new intent-to-interview policy prevents you from being locked into your job or your product release cycle. If your last interview loop to get into your current position is over eighteen months ago, you're free to pound on the door on some awesome group and prove you're awesome-worthy, too, and move on up.

Well, unless your VP is going to step up and officially stop your transfer. Has that even happened to anyone?

One Little, Two Little, Three Little... VPs? First Blake Irving, then Christopher Payne and Dan Ling. Those shoes dropping lead to all sorts of speculation. You'd hope that if this is mass-house cleaning that the clean-out happens in a fell-swoop vs. being a slow duration that leads to Street anxiety. Of course, if it is house cleaning, we'll never know because we're too dysfunctional to actually admit to moving on a leader for failure to lead:

One comment has this take on Blake:

Blake is leaving because he can't stand Sinofsky, he doesn't want to follow Sinofsky's organizational principles and strategy and has simply lost the fight. Sinofsky is way too influential even for mighty Blake.

The fun part is gonna be watching the domino effect as Blake's MSN boys club gets dismantled for good. That division is doomed. By the time the long due cleanup is finished, the train to compete will be long gone.

Other call-outs: Very nice entropic organizational Brownian motion closer on this comment regarding three big things wrong with Microsoft:

Without a mission, it’s impossible to create a technical or marketing strategy. Without a mission/ideology, Microsoft will continue to be killed by internal entropy and organizational Brownian motion. However, a salesman cannot create a great mission statement, and his peer product person does not seem to be capable either (see above).

BizDog leaves behind a very nice long comment worth taking time to read in full. A snippet from near the end:

Our core problem as one of my friends put it is many of our products work better together than our people do. Fixing that is a cultural thing and all the HR tools, comp packages and other rantings won't fix this. Leadership will, but we are devoid of that at the moment.

MSFTextrememakeover I've fallen and I can't get up - Chart goodness. Or, well, badness. There's charts.

And one last comment to rain on your financial future:

Meanwhile, April is approaching and a lot of options will expires worthless.

Updated: s/bad gerund/proper past tense/.

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