Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Proudly Serving up Microsoft Goodness

When you have a chance, drop by Adam Barr's Proudly Serving site ( http://www.proudlyserving.com/) and visit. I stumbled across the site the year before last and I was quite delighted (the old version I discovered is at http://www.proudlyserving.com/old.html ). I especially enjoyed the story about the "Proudly Serving My Corporate Masters" button.

Adam's book was certainly a motivating factor for me to put some time aside to throw some words together into the occasional post.

A recent Proudly Serving post I especially enjoyed reading: Microsoft Goodness.

One of my beliefs that is teetering a bit is the belief in Microsoft's fundamental goodness as a company. I'm not concerned so much about the intentions of everyday employees; rather I wonder if Microsoft executives, in their heart of hearts, are really concerned about doing the right thing.

I'd say more concerned about looking like they are doing the right thing.

Five years ago Ballmer took point in leading Microsoft. Soon we became Jack Welch'd and our simple hard-working software development and selling became infused with company values and E/S/N's and career development videos with acronyms bandied about courtesy Harvard School of Business. All kind of like The Flood from Halo.

For all of this great effort to enforce values and goals, I feel empty sometimes - like all I've become is an assimilated asset trotted before shareholders within soap box emblazoned with "Your Passion Inspires Me to Create Software to Help You Reach it!" and an ingredient list of my company values (that's right ladies, Passion!).

The more we poke and prod and bucket what it takes to be a successful Microsoftie the more we miss than recognize. I would dance with glee and never post another missive here if we could just go back to the old review document (with nary a mention of commitments nor values - not because I'm value free but because they are so empty and vague).

The old-school Microsoft Competencies is a great set of resources. They've been kneed a bit in the midst of all the other people-research projects we've endured. Let's get back to basics and focus there. Streamline it to focus on the competencies that matter most to your job and product and let the rest fall into place.

We are inherently good people. But instilled values are stale and limiting. It's not working out (like a lot of things that have happened in the last five years) and we should rewind the clock here a bit.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Not going to happen. Five years ago MSFT faced a critical inflection point and as you suggest, many decisions made then and subsequently have been the wrong ones. Growth is now coming to a halt and esp in technology, you're either growing or you're dying. Senior mgt see this and hence their record insider selling and folks like Connors "retiring". But predictably, rather than adjust their course, they'll dig in and put the screws to employees via additional cutbacks and massive layoffs. That will delay the inevitable but ultimately fail, at which point Ballmer will be forced to resign. Unfortunately, by then, many emps will have lost their job, the stock (which has already been abysmal) will have imploded and what's left may be too far gone to ever again be a dominant player. Very sad end for a once great company.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to comment but I've got to complete my profile on RoleGuide before EOB today . . .

Anonymous said...

I spent an hour on the midyear discussion website and couldn't ever figure out what KIND of lies they wanted this year.

Anonymous said...

Reviews are a farce, and the always have been. It's just that the more change the forms, process, and words, the easier it is to see it for what it is. Our suspension of disbelief has been broken. And, it's not coming back.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should start selling mayo

Anonymous said...

Why do you want to sell Jack?

Anonymous said...

Reviews at Microsoft have always sucked. Like the whole "goals" thing... sure! I've got goals! I want to become a better programmer. I want to learn more about 3D rendering and shaders. Great! I also want to start making films!

But why the hell would I want to put those on a review form? So you're left with the question... just what are they looking for there? Do they want me to make shit up? Or do they want me to come up with goals that I can easily make without stretching myself too much.

Ultimately, it should come down to this:

Am I doing a good job? Yes or No?

All the goals in the world are entirely unimportant if you're not covering the bread & butter stuff.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft is currently streamlining the competencies. They're replacing the wheel with triangles! You can see the improvement already...

Dev & PM will see the changes next review cycle, test sees them now (and these changes are also tied to the layoffs of low-level testers who can't code).

Anonymous said...

Interesting, long follow-up on Proudly Serving site on the "Microsoft Goodness" post: http://www.proudlyserving.com/archives/2005/01/thoughts_on_mic.html

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree that the old-school competencies made more sense. This new stuff is more fluff than I can handle. Christ, the MS Poll is going to suck balls...

Anonymous said...

We as a company are getting Dilberted to death. I think that's why they quit carrying it in the 'snooze - life imitating too much art.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't the Dilbert replaced by a comic which is actually done by an employee? Now THAT is freaky...

Ranma said...

Too late to rewind the clock. I left last month, took a 3 week vacation in Asia, and starting a new job at a small place "where everybody knows your name." Waaay too late for me, M/S ...

ski4burgers said...

I SOOOO wish this guy had worked for another (ANY OTHER) software company at some point in his life. They are the same. Google will be the same (and is already far along the path with it's firing of the semi-critical blogger). Big companies are big companies, and they are not the same as small companies. This is not rocket science, brain surgery, or any combination of the two. But apparently, it's really tough for long time Microsofties to get their heads around. Jesus on a snowboard, y'all should have worked for another company at some points, you'd think.

"Growth coming to a halt"?? What flavor of crack are you smoking? Management making wrong decisions?? Holy fucking hell, you should try working for Novell for a quarter!

The fact is, MSFT is still the best managed high tech stock in existence. Bar none. When you provide your counter-example, please also provide me your dividend. 'nuff said.

ski4burgers said...

If you think reviews are a "farce", then you have put yourself into two categories:
1) You are a shitty performer, and think your shitty performance is being unfairly judged, because you "know" you're not a shitty performer, which, in fact, you are.
2) You don't get along with your manager, and can't bring this up in any kind of forum, because you're a shitty performer and know that you won't be taken seriously by anyone.

My advice in both of these cases is, stop bitching and start contributing. Time spent whining here is time you could have spent not whining and building the better products that you were whining about.

Harsh? Hell yeah. Don't like it? Go work for another software company that is losing money (NOVL). Once you're there, start a blog to complain about your new company. See how long you last. The fact that you can bitch about MSFT and still work for MSFT is so different from other high tedch companies that I don't even have a clue where to tell you to begin. I have a lot to say about NOVL that I can't say because my saying it would get my FRIENDS fired who still work there. Picture that, a disgruntled MSFT employee saying MS Word sucks, and his pal on the MS Word team gets fired! Well, that's a likely scenario at Novell.

ski4burgers said...

I SOOOO wish this guy had worked for another (ANY OTHER) software company at some point in his life. They are the same. Google will be the same (and is already far along the path with it's firing of the semi-critical blogger). Big companies are big companies, and they are not the same as small companies. This is not rocket science, brain surgery, or any combination of the two. But apparently, it's really tough for long time Microsofties to get their heads around. Jesus on a snowboard, y'all should have worked for another company at some points, you'd think.

"Growth coming to a halt"?? What flavor of crack are you smoking? Management making wrong decisions?? Holy fucking hell, you should try working for Novell for a quarter!

The fact is, MSFT is still the best managed high tech stock in existence. Bar none. When you provide your counter-example, please also provide me your dividend. 'nuff said.

ski4burgers said...

This is all part of the vast right wing conspiracy.

:) This guy is about as credible as MTV.

Anonymous said...

("Growth coming to a halt"?? What flavor of crack are you smoking?)

Last Q - Office negative growth, CRM flat, all emerging combined <10% growth, Windows 6% growth, Servers 18% (vs Linux 30-50% growth). FY 06, forecast is for less growth again (i.e. something like 6% overall). So yes, growth coming to a halt.

(Management making wrong decisions?? Holy fucking hell, you should try working for Novell for a quarter!)

So because they're better than incompetent they're not wrong? Let's talk the anti-trust violations, the $10B of lost telecom investments, the billions spent on the emerging businesses that as a group can't even grow at 10%, the multi-year delay of LH, the chronic delay of CRM, the brutal external reputation, the recent $3 payout that generated a $5 stock drop, etc. etc

(The fact is, MSFT is still the best managed high tech stock in existence. Bar none. When you provide your counter-example, please also provide me your dividend. 'nuff said.)

Then why is it trading at the lowest P/E in its history and a 30% discount to its industry peers? Why is it constantly playing catchup to GOOG, YHOO, CRM, etc. Why has 64-bit Windows XP been delayed two years while every major UNIX and LINUX distro had it years ago? Why can't it even outperform IBM?:

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?t=5y&s=MSFT&l=on&z=m&q=l&c=ibm&c=%5EGSPC&c=%5EDJI
'nuff said - you're a moron.

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