Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ballmer, Bozos, and Crazy Sweet Facebook Yang

Oh, another Fremont Solstice festival where I stay off of my bike, keep my clothes on, and enjoy being a spectator. One of these days, I tell you! At least I know what piece of art to paint on my back when that day comes.

Ballmer Ballmer Ballmer! MSFTExtremeMakeover is some kind of fired up:

I agree that it's amazing that Microsoft shareholders continue to bear and grin it through the flat stock price versus calling for accountability. This is a sobering observation:

MSFT's leadership can continue to run the company - as they have for this entire decade so far - as their private fiefdom and for their personal enrichment versus as a public company charged with rewarding its shareholder owners.

That and the vague talk of muscles leaves me a bit on the pissed-off side of life. And in D5 Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on the hot seat:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that his company was a lot more nimble today than when it had 30 people. He was responding to a question from conference co-host Walt Mossberg how the company deals with huge scale of the company, with 78,000 employees. "The people we had then weren't as good, weren't pushing that hard." Mossberg asked about Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Ballmer came back, "Paul and Bill were good…the rest weren't, and they are gone."

All we had to do was get rid of those 28 and replace them with 78,000! Yes, I see the nimble-math equation right now! It's... so... obvious...

Bob Herbold weeps. Perhaps fake Steve Ballmer could at least follow-up on the commentary here. The Secret Diary of Steve Ballmer.

Bring Out The Crazies: Now then, interestingly enough, there's the technical analysis article Sell Apple, Buy Microsoft by Alan Farley. That was a delightful surprise to see. And to the Mac faithful: (1) Please follow-up with Fake Steve if you feel passionate about that article, and (2) This is not a dig at Apple - I want to make this clear because I know anything that sniffs of an insult always bring the crazies out. And watching the poor Microsoft journalists pounded on by the crazies this past week was almost too much:

Post aQuantive: if I could do an acquisition right now, it would be Facebook. Goodness knows I'm having fun with it (drop on by - I'll do the occasional profile update [jamie, I hope it's okay I snagged my profile picture from C9park]). It makes me wonder, given the acquisition, what the benefit would be of switching our users in Spaces over to Facebook. It could be in stages... first open up all of Spaces so that porting from Spaces to Facebook would be an API 2 API matching. Then, just walk away from Spaces and send everyone to Windows Live Facebook. I know, we have a bajillion Spaces users. I've got to say, though, they'd be a bunch more happy if they had Facebook as their foundation. Snappy.

You're The Salty Yin To My Sweet Yang: another Test versus Dev spat erupted in the comments for the last post, but it brought out some good points, especially around considering what the career path for Test is and should be. One rumor that I like:

Good news on the STE front...fairly reliable sources have confirmed that they will be coming back!

Looking at the short-term results, I can get behind the return of STE for QA and cheer. I really don't know where the automate-everything religion came from, but I saw some mighty-good testers who came up with excellent issues and that drove customer-focused quality disappear from Microsoft. Now we have fragile automation and less testing to make room for repairing automation breaks from period to period. I see more and more late minute bugs where the incredulous triage team usually starts with, "...and how the ____ is it that we haven't found this until now?!?" Well, you know, no one had written automation for it yet.

Over There: a comment regarding pending Microsoft hires getting unhired:

You can see blogs of people hired by MS but screwed by the H1B, popping up all over:

I am now a US citizen, but came here on an h1B.. I shudder to think about what these people are going through.. any managers out there that can help people like these out?

Internal Job Transfers: a while back, before the myMicrosoft 2.0 announcement, I put on my wish list a further simplification to the Microsoft internal transfer policy. Pretty much, if you wanted to join a different team and it was mostly a direct match to what you were currently doing, you could join the new team with the blessings of the hiring manager.

You know, not such a popular idea.

Both here and when I mention it at work, the first reaction I get is, "No way! We'd end up with a bunch of bozos! Haven't you ever done an internal interview?"

Yes, I have, and yes, we do have a bunch of bozzz- er... - lower-than-expected-quality-employees working for Microsoft. I write about that from time to time. So what do you do? We have overstaffed teams. We have understaffed teams. We have teams slogging on making work for themselves even though their team members should be distributed away and matched up with positions that best suit their skills. We have folks who still guilt their unsatisfied team into staying together, telling them that, hey, they "signed up" for the next release and even if everything is going to hell in a handbasket, they're expected to grab on hard, suck it up and stay.

To hell with that.

That just allows people to get away with bad decisions and with no consequences to the leadership. If your team disappears from underneath of you, hmm, that looks like a consequence you're going to have to deal with. I want it to be easy for you to find the best position for yourself at Microsoft. You know, I'm not asking you to reach personal fulfillment via your job at Microsoft. Nor to define yourself as an individual just based on your Microsoftie contributions. I'm not in to that. But I'd like for you to like your job. And enjoy your team. And heck, even be proud of your product. And feel that your job is the best match for you. And for that, it needs to be easy for you to find that job, see if you're the best fit, interview, accept the position, and move.

I love the dropping of permission to interview for folks who have been in their current position long enough. And I love HR's fervent support for this policy - I know of a particular HR generalist that I'd want by my side in any knife-fight. I think it needs to go further, though. I want folks to be able to interview without even notification. If they get the job, two weeks notice and they are starting their new position. Just as easy as if you were interviewing outside of Microsoft. Bang! It should be at least that easy, right?

Ideally, easier.

One of the internal business cycles we have is people waiting for the review model compensation and promo to be locked in and then looking to join another team so that they can start on their new team and pretty much have a full-year on that team by the next review cycle, and not get screwed by the transfer. I guess those discussions and interviews usually begin in earnest come mid-August. Are you ready? Are you researching groups, building your network, having informationals, putting together your resume, etc. etc.? If you're writing your review you might as well update your resume. It would be great if, come the review model lock-in, we had a further simplification to the internal move process to help defrag Microsoft, from the bottom up.

And of course, if your resume is up to date, nothing is stopping you from looking outside Microsoft, too, and seeing what's-what in the post-Blue Badge world.

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