My Mini-Microsoft blog entry has become a mini-mini-Microsoft blog. Thanks in part to a long-time employee of the company who recently posted a lengthy comment about the woes he sees in the corporation. He/She blames much of the company’s troubles on Bill Gates. Take a look at this excerpt:
Who is to blame for this debacle? First BillG himself, for pushing the Windows group to take on huge, extremely difficult technical projects that destabilize all the core parts of the OS, and hold shipping hostage. Even worse, in some cases these efforts seem to be little more than ‘pet’ ideas of Bill’s, with little clear customer value, at least to my understanding. Second, the very top handful of execs in the Windows group are to blame, for placating Bill and not applying the most basic good judgment on engineering and project management. From my perspective, it was clear to nearly every engineer in every product group at MS that Longhorn was badly screwed up, for far too long. But no one at the top would admit it or come to grips with it for far too long. For top product execs as MS, there is a long history of a culture that Bill is right, do what he says, always stay in his good graces no matter what. If you do that, you will likely make a huge fortune. If you don’t, your career at MS is over. I understand the pressure on execs to behave that way and always say ‘Yes’ to Bill. But that’s not the leadership we need. We are not helping anyone with this game, neither customers nor ourselves.
First of all I must say that Microsoft – from my perspective has slowed its innovations greatly. This used to be the company with all the cool ideas and the company that used to make the news for incredible inventions.
Lately I don’t see these inventions coming so quickly and where there was once lots of excitement in the corporate ranks there is now concern and potentially fear about having to compete with both Linux and Google.
Looking at the problem from a macro perspective however shows the company is still in a great position. What I mean is that Microsoft recently shifted its strategy to allow software and security upgrades only to customers who have registered copies of Microsoft software. Since probably half of Microsoft software in use around the world is pirated it is only a matter of time before revenues start to surprise analysts.
But getting back to the problem and the solution… Microsoft has grown too big in my opinion. Of course this is the whole concept of Mini Microsoft but perhaps shrinking the company is best done by dividing into a few parts that are loosely coupled. The way things are going now I get the feeling the Redmond-based software company cannot allow all of its creative people to come to market with their ideas fast enough or at all. The company needs a turbo and that turbo will likely be massive layoffs or a good number of autonomous pieces that are free to set the world on fire.
The irony here is that the top-down model employed by the company today should be super-ceded by networked divisions. Kind of like the Internet. If you really want to compete with Google, the Internet leader (*gasp* did I really say that?) then turn your management into an Internet style corporation and management team. Something has to give. I am looking forward to seeing some big changes from Microsoft soon.