Monday, September 27, 2010

Here Comes Microsoft Company Meeting 2010!

Hello, SafeCo Field! Another year, another Microsoft Company Meeting!

Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that I'm a big fan of the Company Meeting, though I have to admit this is the first year I've thought of skipping and just go out for some beers instead. Well, instead I'll peruse the past and conjure up some enthusiasm:

Alright, I'm in. So what is there to talk about going into the Company Meeting?

No Elop: yeah! So no repeat of last year's late-night telemarketing demo unintentional-skit. In fact, we might have one big demo cut altogether...

Unique Demos: anyone who repackages a demo from earlier in the year should just get boo'd off-stage. Any demos should be new and quick quick quick.

Dreading Mundie: please spare us. If the Company Meeting had a chatter meter for when the audience stopped paying attention and started talking with their seatmates, this would be the peak.

WP7 Microsoftie Demos: I think it would be sweet and smart to have some of the top-notch Windows Phone 7 apps created by Microsofties - under the application developer program to support employee apps - get up on stage and do 1 minute demos of their apps. Microsoft exists only due to the great work of the geeks who work there - celebrate it.

Financials: a nice review of *profits* from the various groups.

Stealth Layoffs: are we done yet? I'm all for making Microsoft a smaller company, but not at the morale busting cost of layoffs lurking around campus like the Spanish Inquisition. It will eventually take a toll on people considering moving to groups that are in a start-up mode with unclear Senior Leadership Team support.

LisaB: she tried something big, Ballmer didn't go for it, and then she faded and became busy with layoffs. And her basketball team. Ms. Brummel kicked off another Listening Tour this year. Now would be a good tie to roll-up any insights and results. What is my dream result? Team based awards. And it's pretty simple.

Every VP-level person has to stack rank their organizational teams, top to bottom. For Sinofsky-fied product teams, this would be at the Dev Manager / Test Manager / General Program Manager triad level, typically defining a product team such that every product team get a rating. Every team gets ranked just like individuals and the team gets a rating just like you and me: Exceeded / Achieved / Underperformed and 20% / 70% / 10%. This - along with the concise VP-level written evaluations - gets pasted into every team member's annual review and part of the overall bonus / stock compensation now comes out of this result.

The reasoning: strong, well-run and results-producing organizations should be rewarded. And poorly run, low WHI organizations should be disinfected with some mighty strong corporate sunlight. When it comes to informationals with new teams, you can ask: "What was the team's rating last year?" in addition to MSPoll results.

Reviews: as long as we're on LisaB and HR: how about them reviews this year? At least we had merit increases back. If you're feeling a sharp-blow about your results and you're up for an interesting point of view (along with a bunch of other good things), I suggest reading Philip Su's goodbye note for leaving Microsoft and joining Facebook: Goodbye Microsoft, Hello Facebook! « The World As Best As I Remember It. (you might remember Mr. Su from the high-profile post-Vista blog-post Broken Windows Theory). That whole post is worth discussing soon. As is the always popular observation: if you're not happy with Microsoft, there's abundant opportunity around you. Try checking it out.

Ballmer vs. The League of Meh. Maybe because we have a lull with our major product groups either coming in for a landing (WP7, Natal) or just taking off (Office 15, Windows 8) that my circle of friends have hit a patch of corporate ennui like never before. True, some of them work on products way on the fringe but others work on some pretty core products and they are feeling... full of meh.

I still believe that Microsoft has turned the corner. Or, as someone else wrote this week, it has turned the tanker: The Microsoft Tanker Has Turned and You Ignore it at Your Own Peril. Why this meh? First of all, the stock: if you are investing in the success of Microsoft, you cannot underestimate the power of the stock to energize the employees to create break-through results. We had great quarterly earnings and what did the financial market say? "Meh." Maybe they started it. Part of it I'm sure is that even though we've turned the corner, sometimes we screw up and spill the Big Gulp in our lap and skip the curb and take out a mailbox (KIN). That startling inconsistency to deliver focused results I'm sure puts fear and doubt into Wall Street, and if there's one combination that Wall Street underperforms dealing with it's fear and doubt.

After the dismissive reaction to our last quarterly results, we had article after article written about Microsoft's Lost Decade, covering how poorly Mr. Ballmer and The Board have been doing running Microsoft and calls for their dismissal. That's not cool, and if anything, it's draining. Under that context, to see Mr. Ballmer screaming and running around high-fiving a bunch of MBAs riding our two cash cows until the milk's dried up is challenging to your self-motivation.

Going back to my friends: some are very loose in their seat, and others have already left to enjoy unfettered engineering (one in particular happy to realize how much unexpected joy results in the 'make Partner or take the 10%' cloud going away).

I expect a CEO like Mr. Ballmer to revisit his previous Company Meeting talks and discuss where those ideas are now. Some of those ideas were quite exciting, but went... where? Otherwise, without the follow-through I guess this is another throw-away show that's in-between me and my beer.


-- Comments

74 comments:

Steve Ballmer said...

This meeting will be like no other!

Anonymous said...

Team's rating sounds a very good idea. Mini, you are turning negative and nervous.

Steve Ballmer said...

I have a confession to make! I only make this confession here because I know that nobody will believe it, but it’s therapeutic for me, so here goes:
I confess that I have no idea what I am doing as CEO of Microsoft! The more astute amoung you already know this. I was offered the job by my old drinking buddy Bill and I couldn’t turn it down because, well, I like money, and I have made a boat-loat of it! The day to day stuff is handled by my staffers, so I really don’t need to know anything. DANG, I don’t even know how to use a computer, much less understand what any of you NTN’s (nasal-toned nerds) are talking about in all those stupid meetings I attend all day!
I am an accountant! I have no clue what all this programming and networking crap is all about! I fake my way through and do a dang good job of it! Whenever anyone starts to catch on I figure out a way to humiliate and fire them. Dispite the fact that the last decade has been abysmal for our stock, the truth is that I have tripled the number of employees and given thousands of you whinners good paying jobs! Jobs which you should be grateful for, so stop complaining!
The only true outlet I have for my true feelings is occaisionally making entries in my blog:
http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com
Nobody believes that this is actually me pretending to not be me pretending to be me pretending to be me pretending to be me being me! It’s wonderful!
Mini I salute you, but, I will track you down one day, ruin you, make a spectacle of you and fire you publicly as an example to other so they will fear too! (nothing personal)

Anonymous said...

Hey Mini how come you aren't calling for Ballmer's head like you used to when this blog first started?

Payed off eh?

Anonymous said...

"Team rating" as you describe it would quickly turn into just as much BS as individual ratings are now.

What if the profits of a product were divided evenly between the people who made it?

It would focus everybody on making top quality, commercially viable software, and it would have the added benefit of streamlining teams, since nobody would want to share their profits with underperformers.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of Team-based awards as well, but we'd need to figure out how to keep it from becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. What's the incentive for taking the risk of going to a low-perf team and trying to turn it around? For high-perf teams, high WHI and high rewards will feed each other nicely, but (much like our SLT currently) everyone will get fat and slow.

Anonymous said...

Remember, no tweeting about the company event! We don't want any post-company meeting emails from HR telling us not to again. Oh and not going is a career limiting move for some, so make sure you are there and that your manager and skip see you.

Anonymous said...

"We had great quarterly earnings and what did the financial market say? "Meh.""

Two reasons: economic slowdown and iPad; the latter of which is driving Apple to record highs. The tablet situation is looking like a repeat of smartphones; Apple obliterates ten years of MS's effort on their first try and takes a dominant lead, while Google capitalizes on MS's total lack of response to grab the number two position. Only this time losing won't mean some minor mobile licensing revenue foregone and a misspent billion or two trying to get back in the game. Analysts are predicting 50MM units next year, split 50% for Apple and 40%+ for Google. Assuming 50% of those will come at the expense of a netbook or laptop, that’s a lot of Windows and Office revenue that will be lost. That should make itself evident starting this quarter, and then on an escalating basis through 2011. There's no way layoffs are done in light of those facts.

Anonymous said...

@Bill Gates solution to education crisis: Stack Ranking

Microsoft, learn at least from Bill G.

Steve Ballmer said...

... The iPad thing is just a fad! We did this stuff too with the fold over laptops, remember? They got old really fast!

Not to worry people

Anonymous said...

Want to see Microsoft's stock go up? Replace Ballmer. We need less arrogance, more leadership.

Anonymous said...

"Remember, no tweeting about the company event! We don't want any post-company meeting emails from HR telling us not to again. Oh and not going is a career limiting move for some, so make sure you are there and that your manager and skip see you."

I think everyone should tweet the company meeting.

Also, given that I'm desperately trying to get my team to fire me so I can get unemployment (they'd rather I quit and I refuse to do a crappy job, so we're at a stalemate) I'm viewing my lack of company meeting attendance as hopefully something that will help them along. ;-)

Anonymous said...

"We had great quarterly earnings and what did the financial market say? "Meh."

Two reasons: economic slowdown and iPad; the latter of which is driving Apple to record highs.


Not true -- the financial markets have been saying "meh" for a decade regardless of how well we perform.

Microsoft is perceived as a "Meh" company and people don't understand that just because we have great profits it doesn't mean that our stock will perform. We have no mystique and no perceived relevance in the world of the future, so it doesn't matter if we make 10x what we're making now, the stock will stay flat.

Anonymous said...

>What if the profits of a product were divided evenly between the people who made it?

Because not everyone involved in a successful product made an even contribution? In theory if everyone did pitch in 110% AND everyone had the same level of talent AND there were no worthless people (*cough* *cough* most PMs *cough* *cough*) then it might work, or cause a mass migration over to Windows and office, which might not be what we want to promote seeing the not so great future that appears to await in client OS and bloated, clunky office suites.

Anonymous said...

>What if the profits of a product were divided evenly between the people who made it?

Uh, well, since Microsoft (MSFT) is a public company, actually you don't deserve to split the profits of a product.

Of course let's not look at the executives who receive massive revenue share. Oh. Hmm. Well, all other big companies do that, too.

Or the banks. The banks would never do that.

Oh, the investment banks set aside up to 30% of their revenue to give to their employees? And still public companies...

Hmm.

Ok maybe you're right. Let's just pillage!

Anonymous said...

Team based rewards would = fail. My team had low poll results last year. This year the ICs have a commitment to give their management a high score.

It's brilliant. Management has figured out how to improve morale. They've dictated that we be happy or risk getting an underachieved.

We aren't about results anymore, but rather have become focused purely on internal perception. The emperor's clothes sure are nice!

Anonymous said...

>What if the profits of a product were divided evenly between the people who made it?

Because not everyone involved in a successful product made an even contribution?


Hence my comment about streamlining groups. Teams would self-organize to be as small as possible with a good distribution of talent and effort. Right now the incentive structure at Microsoft is broken--for one thing, underperformers are desirable to pad out org charts and stack ranks.

People wouldn't rush to join Windows and Office because the profits would be spread too thin. If anything, people would rush AWAY from Windows and Office, which is arguably exactly what those bloated messes need.

I suppose since Microsoft is a public company, the shareholders are supposed to receive the profits and not the employees, so this would have to be more of a salary/rewards allocation plan than actually funneling profits to employees but it could be done. And the employees don't need to get ALL of the profits from a product--but enough that there's incentive to work together to make higher quality, more salable products.

Anonymous said...

I only want to hear one thing. Steve get up on stage, apologize to everyone for the last ten years, and then announce he's retiring before there's no company left.

Anonymous said...

I only want to hear one thing. Steve get up on stage, apologize to everyone for the last ten years, and then announce he's retiring before there's no company left.

+ 1

Hopefully Lisa and most of middle management goes with him.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure we'll hear all sorts of rah rah about how this year we are bringing out more innovation than any other year in our company's history. Windows Phone, Kinnect, IE9, blah, blah, blah.

The reality is that we seem to have stopped thinking about big upsides and are now focused on the downside. We aren't going to hear about the micro-layoffs, getting rid of 10% Achieved "Kims", 10% for folks in level too long (up or out).

It wouldn't surprise me if we talk about turning out the lights when you leave the office to save energy, to flush the toilet every other time you go, just to save a few cents.

Anonymous said...

The company meeting always feels like a huge swift kick in the balls to me.

We are asked to do two and half jobs, but only get paid for one to start with.

Then they intentionally make us throw away the better part of a day to hear why we should make his inner circle more money, when many of us can't even pay our bills. Of course, we are still expected to run home at hop on RAS to make up for the time.

Steve- this year it will be my daughter's b-day you selfish SOB!

Hope you are happy.

Anonymous said...

>> Philip Su

I've read his blog post, and he's in for a MASSIVE rude awakening. I don't blame him, after 12 years at Microsoft he doesn't know anything else, but boy is it going to be a jarring transition.

Anonymous said...

>> a) People Control, where you decide who to hire, who to fire, and who to put in what positions;
>> b) Action Control, where you tell people what to do; and
>> c) Results Control, where you define the metrics of success.

AFAIK, his point a) and b) don't apply at Facebook. They certainly don't apply at Google to the extent he's used to. And you don't define "metrics of success". Teams do. You as a manager may agree or disagree, but you can't pass arbitrary metrics top down.

Anonymous said...

The team rating idea seems to suggest that the people that create all the value, will eventually become the recipients of that value.

I would assert that this is not happening now, so even if every team at Microsoft that wasn't making money, adding value, etc.. got cut - guess what? No change to YOU.

Here is the fundamental flaw in the thinking. There seems to be an assumption on the table that the company wants to operate ethically and do the right thing here; when they have told all of you in so many ways that they don't.

Let me sketch you out the big picture. Windows revenue today is up 28% to 14.5 billion. Company profits are up 23%. Net profit for the 3rd quarter was up 35% to 4 billion dollars. That is how much money the company made in just the last 90 days.

Now, figure out the number of employees working on this project, their salaries, and do the simple math here.

Look. At the end of the day company executives have a choice when running any company. It is obvious by the fact that they have 15 year kids in China making their xbox for 35 cents an hour that Microsoft has chosen the low-road.

Never forget this day, because even if today is not your day - your day will come.

microsoft programmer said...

I came here for the first time so I am not aware of your liking to company meetings. But I do love to get the well known company meetings. Specially Microsoft as I am related to IT field and Microsoft. So thanks for the meetings dear.

Anonymous said...

Re: the stock price... people always complain that wall-street is so short sighted and obsessed with quarterly earnings, and that this is a bad thing (I don't disagree with this)...

Isn't the converse of this argument that your stock price should not necessarily instantly respond to one good quarter?

Anonymous said...

">> Philip Su

I've read his blog post, and he's in for a MASSIVE rude awakening. I don't blame him, after 12 years at Microsoft he doesn't know anything else, but boy is it going to be a jarring transition."


I read his blog post too, and OMG what a pollyanna. I don't think I've read a more unbalanced, lopsided Microsoft-is-the-awesome ramble outside of corporate PR.

What he says is right out of the handbook, and although some of it works in practice some of the time it definitely is not the rule of how things operate at the ranch.

Especially the part where he says "there's no way to not get promoted if you do great work." Yeaaaaah... makes you wonder what planet this guy lived on for the 13 years he was at the company, or if maybe he was just wearing hardcore blinders.

Anonymous said...

I hope this year in Company Meeting they fire all the useless Principal and Partners in AdCenter. Let higher ups know the chunk of beef or money sink hole is the middle managers, instead provide more IC's.
Most higher ups got there cos they know someone higher up. There is no vision only vision is yahoo integration.

Anonymous said...

The fact is that MS does everything upside down. The day when the job requirement includes inovation and that ICs will be required to engage is some sort of "research" or "experimental project" is the day when MS will turn around. Now, as it stands, we have the big boys at the top making plans upon plans. 5 year plans. 10 year plans. 100 year plans. What is this? Maoist China? Enough with the damn plans already. Empower the people who make the company run, the ones with legs and eyes and a brain that faces the practical real challenges every day....those with something at stake. The talent pool at MS is extraordinary and it is even mor extraordinary how it wasted. Mini is BS...he is a fake -one of the big boys just posing as the voide of the hoi polloi. That is damn clear.

Meni said...

Disclaimer: not an employee, just an open-source developer who is interested in what's happening at MSFT.

Just happened to come across the 5 aspects of the cloud spiel from MSFT:
1. The cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities
2. The cloud learns and helps you learn, decide and take action
3. The cloud enhances your social and professional interactions
4. The cloud wants smarter devices
5. The cloud drives server advances that drive the cloud

I just went: WTF!?!?!

Had I've been a microsoft shop, i'd be like: now seems a good time to bail out, since MSFT is being run by moron MBAs

Anonymous said...

Steve- this year it
will be my daughter's b-day you selfish SOB!


We are scanning employees' HR profiles now for daughters with the same birthday as The Company Meeting. (Threw sons in the query too, to account for misdirection, and matching to U || A 10%.)

Oh look, there you are...we'll be watching to see if you go to the meeting today, although it won't matter now.

See you at your MYCD, Mr. Darwin Award.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see the following execs leave.

Steve Sinofsky and his coterie- the George W. Bush of Microsoft. He is clearly driving the company to a ditch.

Lisa Brummel - we need trimming of HR. When we have 1500 FTEs in HR, we know it is bloated. Your basketball team did well this year, did you have a HR team there too?

Partners/principals in search/adcenter - we know there is a lot of fat in that group

Office PMs - what vision are you adding, time to send home the partners/principals.

Anonymous said...

>I've read his blog post, and he's in for a MASSIVE rude awakening. I don't blame him, after 12 years at Microsoft he doesn't know anything else, but boy is it going to be a jarring transition.

I don't get this reply. His post seemed to be kind of along the lines of "don't just have an idea, execute. Don't assume everyone else is an idiot because they don't agree with you. Realize your own analysis of your skills/contributions is inevitably skewed. etc..." Are you saying the 'real world' is actually a place where all that matters is ideas, everyone IS an idiot and everyone is a dispassionate analysis machine when looking at their own skills/contributions? Or are you saying something else entirely?

Anonymous said...

I love this company. 16 years plus and I plan on sticking around. Sure I wish a few things would grow/mature/change but you have to admit it is still a very good place to be employed.

I wake up every day excited about my job and am happy to participatein creating great products.

I do hope our world opinion and stock price reflect what we are doing and what we are capable of... but until then I will keep doing what I do and enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I love the company meeting. Meeting day is my favorite day of the entire year. Somehow before the company meeting I always feel 'meh' and afterwards I am proud to be a Microsoftie again.

People (I) love to be happy and feel proud of their company. I consciously spend time to pump myself up to get excited about the company.

The largest road block on the way to proud that I experience are decisions that I do not fully understand.

When a decision is made at Microsoft there are always some obvious pros which are stated with it.
However there generally are other techniques to obtain the same benefits which appear more obvious and consistent with our company. The negative or possible negative outcomes are generally ignored when presenting the decision probably to help sell the idea.

Over the year I always an asking my friends how they feel about different decisions. Sometimes playing the pessimist and other times the optimist. It is amazing to see what types of rationalities people make for our decisions. Some of my friends change their mind on our decision about once a week while others have some idea they stick with.

At the company meeting the executives reveal hints about their decisions.

PS - where are our windows phones? I thought we were getting them yesterday/today.

Steve Ballmer said...

You people are way too negative! I doubt that any of you are actually Microsoft employees at all!
This entire site is part of the conspiracy against my company and I vow to have it shut down!

Have a nice day

Anonymous said...

Dear Mini,

Have you any plans to discuss the lackluster influx of mediocre ex-Yahoo types into Microsoft. They have infiltrated our GFS org at the highest level and apart from Qi Lu there doesn’t seem to be much of a leadership team being put in place.
According to anonymous sources Dayne will not be missed at Yahoo although a recent data center site which was originally supposed to be a Yahoo facility ended up being a Microsoft one. His used car salesman approach to everything at Yahoo did cause concerns but “Hey, welcome to Microsoft, we might want to sell cars some day and you’re just the man for the job”.
Kevin Timmons (or KT as he is fondly known) would appear to be a decision maker of the lowest order. The fact is that he does not make decisions of any kind and therefore we will soon lack the ability to grow our services within the US or in the international space. We will more than likely have to lease space at huge costs to get the services to market. This will be good for most of the senior management in GFS as all they ever talk about is the stock price in various data center and networking space. Maybe they know something we don’t.
Along with the 3 levels of Yahoo’s comes the best of the bunch. The no job posted, direct hire into KT’s org. Sylvia came onboard because KT said they worked really well at Yahoo?!? Funny, it appears to me that all 3 and maybe 4 of the new hires were driving Yahoo into the ground.
Hey, let’s get those guys into Microsoft and see if they can kill WHI and drive our costs down. Success, not visible, ask about the $5M / MW for the EC data center and see if anyone can actually provide a cost anywhere near that. Some rumors say it is double that already and still rising. Who cares, Sylvia got an award for assuming the $5m / MW cost was actually achievable, good on paper, bad on delivery.
Onwards and downwards, no decisions mean no capital spends and therefore someone somewhere might assume this as success. Unfortunately we are still spending 10’s of millions of $’s on the consultant review of the decisions not being made.

Best wishes and keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

@Tuesday, September 28, 2010 7:50:00 AM

I enjoyed the post from Philip Su, but it did come off as a little smug. He seems to imply that if you have gripes with the performance system, there must be something wrong with you. I happen to think the system is a morale-buster even if you're a good performer and want to do the right thing. No system is perfect, but that doesn't mean we can't do better.

You're right that the post was overall fairly positive and neutral. But the "rude awakening" thing did come to mind to me as well. It read too much like an entrenched 'softie, and a lot of those skills will probably not translate. Overall, though, props to him for his new job, and he wrote a pretty good exit email.

Anonymous said...

About this Philip Su blog and his comment on liteBulb. What is he trying to say?

Anonymous said...

You lost me, Mini. Your view of the triad is very dev-centric. And that's the core value for sure. But it is also dismissive of a larger business perspective.

What about marketing and sales? What about support, IT?

I get it. Devs live in world of devs. But it's not a real world; It's a virtual world. But that world exists because of the larger business considerations.

You mention the geeks who work there. Celebrate their work. Why do so few of these geeks start their own companies with these great ideas? I think it's because they are good at building software in the safe confines of the corporate envionment. This environment only exists as a business endeavor, a going concern.

I think you lose sight of that sometimes.

Anonymous said...

"I would like to see the following execs leave.

Steve Sinofsky and his coterie- the George W. Bush of Microsoft. He is clearly driving the company to a ditch.

Lisa Brummel - we need trimming of HR. When we have 1500 FTEs in HR, we know it is bloated. Your basketball team did well this year, did you have a HR team there too?"


Sinofsky: lots of luck with that one, considering that he's widely creditied with saving Windows.

Brummel: lots of luck with that one, considering she's Steve's lapdog and doesn't ever rock the boat in any way, and that's all he wants from his HR VP. She'll be here until either she or Steve retires.

Anonymous said...

WTF was with SteveB's entrance?

Felt like a creepy fundamentalist convention.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft company meeting: Demos, demos, demos

In the interview, Ballmer noted that he checks Facebook every day, reflected on the lessons learned from the ill-fated Kin, and was asked whether the company was done laying off workers.
"'Layoffs' is a very specific word," Ballmer told the paper. "Are we always trimming and remapping? We're always moving people around. We try something, a project doesn't quite work, we'll cut that team, we tell people find a job someplace else in the company. We're going to continue to do that sort of thing."

Anonymous said...

Steve Sinofsky and his coterie- the George W. Bush of Microsoft. He is clearly driving the company to a ditch.

Love him or hate him, Sinofsky has saved Microsoft's arse by producing an OS that is gaining market share.

Anonymous said...

So in beautiful downtown Bellevue Square, I notice that the Microsoft Store is being fitted out two doors down from the Apple store.

Maybe KT and co will include a mandatory visit in our commitments? Will eager shoppers camp out overnight to buy Windows Phone 7? Perhaps KT will record a fireside chat that can entertain the swirling throng of anxious consumers as they inch their way thru the lengthy line to the checkouts, jealously clutching their Zunes.

Or maybe, just maybe, this whole idea is another Meh Too loser for which some L62 PM will be blamed as the Partners quaff their Chateau Whatever. Madame Lafarge has nothing on these people.

Anonymous said...

This blog really draws all the whiners who complain about this and that. Honestly, if you are outside of Microsoft and looking at the comments here, you'd think everybody was a disgruntled, entitled prima donna who thinks no-one is noticing their amazing talents and contributions. And to top it all off, they have the solutions and have a list of people to get rid of that will fix everything.

Anonymous said...

From today's Seattle Times interview with Ballmer:

Q: Are the layoffs over at Microsoft?

A: "Layoffs" is a very specific word. Are we always trimming and remapping? We're always moving people around. We try something, a project doesn't quite work, we'll cut that team, we tell people find a job someplace else in the company. We're going to continue to do that sort of thing. ...

Note to Mini: Please, please, please, stop approving the annoying "Steve Ballmer" posts. Even the real one isn't that tedious.

Anonymous said...

The meeting was boring until the last 90 minutes.

And a thanks to Kevin Turner for mentioning cost controls 100 times.

I appreciate it when I meet or exceed my commitments and make an extra 2% over two years.

Anonymous said...

Back from the company meeting. This has been be my 5th and never witnessed such a cold reception to Ballmer. Is it me or it this disaster CEO performance coming to a head within the company?

Anonymous said...

>> I don't get this reply.

Simple - the guy obviously got lucky and had a good managers who promoted him far enough to feel invincible and important. Out there he's _nobody_. He will have to prove himself all over again, and he won't be competing with risk-averse, domesticated Microsofties while being pushed forward by a good manager. He will be competing with folks who are younger, smarter, more aggressive and better suited to the climate. It is safe to say that for the first year or so, he won't even know the true "rules of the game".

Anonymous said...

The talent pool at MS is extraordinary and it is even more extraordinary how it wasted.

No waste anymore. Those real talents are leaving in drives, to Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, you name it.

Anyway, I skipped the company meeting for the first time, missing the chance to have a preview of MS turning the corner.

Anonymous said...

Looks like someone on the board of directors asked Steve whether he was delusional - or at least I hope they did.

Anonymous said...

Today was my 12th company meeting. All I can say is "meh". I was surprised the audience was so dead. SteveB had to beg for applause. It was uncomfortable to watch.

It wasn't that long ago when the meeting was a high energy affair. BillG stood uncomfortably and received his 5 minute standing O.

Our current leadership isn't inspiring either employees or the stock market. Very sad to watch MSFT's decline from the inside.

Anonymous said...

Very few "super excited" comments from our execs. What was up with all the "I'm honored to be speaking to you" comments?

Anonymous said...

I thought Amy Sedaris' joke(s) was horrible, but SteveB's performance was even worse. I thought lecturing was over after high school; now that he mentioned the meeting was over couple of times when he began, people were escaping from Safeco.

BTW, have you guys tried the Fuse Manhattan App? I tried like thousand times but couldn't connect to any of the event.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the previous comment about the fake Steve Ballmer -- the comments aren't adding anything to the discussion and they're now just annoyances. Mini, aren't you exercising some editorial discretion?

Anonymous said...

"Looks like someone on the board of directors asked Steve whether he was delusional - or at least I hope they did."

What they should have asked is how did MS again get caught by surprise and lose a leadership position, this time with iPad? A decade of tablet experience. Four years to see iPhone and listen to Apple tell everyone it came out of their ongoing tablet effort. And once again MS not only fails to preempt them, it has no solution at all and is scrambling trying to build one. Just ridiculous. All this high priced SLT talent, and they fail to position the company for something that was obvious to even a low level grunt.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the original Microsoft 1400 laid off, and I'm happy to report that I now make 3x as much as I used to at Microsoft. That's $300,000 per year as an IC. I was only L62 when they let me go.

When I think of Microsoft, I just think of a cruel dictatorship. It's such a relief to not have to worry about saying the right thing, or worry about what others think about you.

I used to think of Microsoft as my family or 'tribe', but it never treated me like family. Microsoft doesn't value you as a person, or care about your ideas. You are just a cog in the machine. If you cross your manager, or argue one too many times, you are gone.

To everyone still working there, it's not as bad outside as you think. Also, you shouldn't feel 'lucky' to still have your jobs, or let your managers manipulate you into thinking they are doing you a favor by letting you keep your job. In the outside world, you can command a much higher salary.

But, you have to go outside the gates to see what you'll get.

Anonymous said...

> Steve Sinofsky and his coterie- the George W. Bush of Microsoft. He is clearly driving the company to a ditch.

Please explain. Sinofsky has always struck me as one of the few executives who is actually capable of executing and worthy of being a VP.

Anonymous said...

>About this Philip Su blog and his comment on liteBulb. What is he trying to say?

That the alias is mostly a giant waste of time? It is filled with people who will identify why every single idea ever proposed won't work. I have rarely seen new ideas proposed on that alias (even though in theory that is one of its charters), but I have seen people repeatedly take dumps on everything Microsoft is doing, has done, or will do. Finding fault with things is easy, whether they are fatal faults or just something that some insulated Redmond nerd doesn't like is never clear, but I think they strongly tend towards the latter. If you posted every idea you had there you would quickly become demoralized (i.e. it would 'kill your soul') because everyone would tell you why it would never work, everyone that has never had an original or successful idea in their life that is.

Anonymous said...

Note to Mini: Please, please, please, stop approving the annoying "Steve Ballmer" posts. Even the real one isn't that tedious.


+1.

Even as a derivative it's neither witty nor entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Gates: If you just say that the bottom 10 percent of teachers goes away because they don't measure up, then the U.S. goes back to being one of the best ...
If this is true why haven't all businesses at MS been blockbuster successes – if they’re only run by the top 90% each year? I mean, show us where this is done successfully today – not MS? Isn't the review system throughout the company - Win Phone, MS Bob, Research, Kin, Search, TC, and thus those organizations should be world leading? Bill you're in charge of this so why aren't you supporting firing 10% of all Partners and Executives YOY?
Bill, if the 10% system is so great why don't you check to see if it is being used appropriately. Look at the data, not decibels from those below you who just want to tell you what you want to hear. I’m certain you'll see a disproportionate amount of folks getting the 10%s are pushed down in the org. For example, look at the number of l65’s that get the 10% v. the number of l67s. The disproportion is extraordinary, because 67s can give their 65 same-level-band reports the 10%s, keeping the 20%s for themselves, and level 70’s and 80’s can save the E/20 and A/70’s for their direct 67’s so they don’t have to give their directs any of the bad scores. Have a look at one of your senior leaders and see how often s/he doesn’t assign 10%s to their own direct staffs – and pushes down and ignores the people on the bottom who they don’t even talk to – didn’t Steve say something about we should all help each other grow yesterday at the Company meeting? Doesn’t happen here. What a waste of money too when you provide 4x the stock comp to a 67 too who may not even be doing the actual work of the 65 below him.
In all seriousness, I do agree that a lot of teachers do need some sort of performance (improvement) program, since in some states like California, only something like 5 teachers actually get fired out of 300,000 annually at great tax payer expense, but 10%is a huge number especially when it is not used appropriately and it creates he hostile work, and lack of collaborative environment, we see at MS. In this economy it’s all about kill or be killed, so the 10% is used as a club.
Bill, Do they use the 10% up or out at the private school to which you send your children? Does 10% of the Gates Foundation get fired each year? Do you fire 10% of your personal staff each year?
Disclosure: I was never a 3.0 or 10, and I live among the SLT, having been very successful before and after MS, so you cannot just brush me off as some whiner or loser you may think that are the only people posting here.

Anonymous said...

No comment on the lack of Ozzie as of late? Is he on his way out? methinks yes..

Anonymous said...

This was my first company meeting after being with the company for six years. I don't think I'll be going again. It confirmed my preconception that the company meeting was just rah-rah cheerleading, and whereas that may work for some people, it doesn't do it for me to see Dear Leader prancing around like a rock star swarmed by his adoring fans. I'm glad to hear that most teams are moving the needle in the right direction, but then again I can only get so worked up about growing market share from 8 to 13 percent. I gotta say though, it was kinda nice for Joe B to get up there and show the world that my team has finally got their head out of their collective ass, but again, we're up against stiff competition and I'm only cautiously optimistic that we'll come out doing well.

Philip's blog post was a good one. Sure, you can get the impression that Philip has atypically never met a bad lead or worked under a bad management chain. But then again, you can get the impression here that no one who posts on mini-MSFT is bad at their job. And I'm pretty sure that's not true either.

The truth is, if you've got good leadership, "do great work" IS the route to recognition and rewards. If you're not capable of that, tough luck; you're not gonna be able to make up for it with brownnosing alone.

Now, it may be that have bad leadership, in which case you have three choices. One, you can leave, wash your hands of the insanity, abandon the group to its own Darwinian fate. Two, you can learn to work the system, get yourself a long string of Exceededs and numerous promotions, and end up five to ten years later being the Chief Architect on some product no one outside of Microsoft could give a shit about. Three, you can bust your ass trying to change the place from the inside. I can't tell you which one you should do, but I know which one I myself choose.

And a final -1 to team rewards. As Deming pointed out, the causes of low quality and low productivity are often structural, and caused by poor leadership rather than lazy or unskilled workers. We should instead follow Alfie Kohn's formula: pay people fairly, pay them well, and then get pay off their minds so they can focus on more important things. Monetary compensation, while important, can only bring a certain level of personal fulfillment. Incentive pay is often a distraction; just another system that can be gamed.

Anonymous said...

The meeting was great for me in many ways as I didn't have to hear the execs lay down the same pap. Demos came from excited people doing the work and talking about great things. I have some real hope for the future and that's been hard to come by lately.

Ballmer's entrance was the standard embarrassing monkey-boy stuff and as someone already said, in a strange way entertaining. He sent out a survey and only 180 replied... No Steve, 10s of thousands "replied", you just didn't get the message. When he got the discussion about stock price my section was dead silent. It was painful.

Next year I'm putting my name in for host. I don't lack presentation skills and I can read cue cards much better than Amy. She was so bad I almost started disliking her NPR frequenting brother by association.

Anonymous said...

"I was one of the original Microsoft 1400 laid off, and I'm happy to report that I now make 3x as much as I used to at Microsoft. That's $300,000 per year as an IC. I was only L62 when they let me go."

Do tell what kind of work you do that pays so well...

Anonymous said...

Also, no Mundie, no Ozzie. Coincidence? How about no real LisaB either. Are they on their way out?

Steve was okay, but the lecture part about how we all need to work together and help each other be great is not an actionable goal, so I'm unclear why he even metioned it. They don't do it at the SLT level, so why does he expect his minions to do it. The review system doesn't support making each other great. Sure, there are people who do this on their own, but they are mostly not the E/20's.

Anonymous said...

We should instead follow Alfie Kohn's formula: pay people fairly, pay them well, and then get pay off their minds so they can focus on more important things. Monetary compensation, while important, can only bring a certain level of personal fulfillment.

Exactly. At IBM we were told that "compensation" was a "hygiene issue".

Steve Ballmer said...

DANG! Now you people are against free speech?

Anonymous said...

> Steve Sinofsky and his coterie- the George W. Bush of Microsoft. He is clearly driving the company to a ditch.

Please explain. Sinofsky has always struck me as one of the few executives who is actually capable of executing and worthy of being a VP.


Yes, if it wasn't for SteveSi, Windows 7 would have been another Vista.

Anonymous said...

"Hey Mini how come you aren't calling for Ballmer's head like you used to when this blog first started?
Payed off eh?"

Maybe the real Mini is sleeping with the fishes? You gotta a problem with that?

Anonymous said...

I love this company. 16 years plus and I plan on sticking around. Sure I wish a few things would grow/mature/change but you have to admit it is still a very good place to be employed.

I wake up every day excited about my job and am happy to participatein creating great products.


Ditto, but at +40 I still got booted.

Anonymous said...

Steve Ballmer said...

i beleave whatever doesn't kill you simply make you ... strager

Anonymous said...

Is this thing on?

Steve Jobs