A cartoonist once drew an illustration depicting Microsoft’s organizational chart as warring factions.
Take a look and you’ll see three separate gangs: one blue, one green, one yellow. The gangs are assembled in pyramid-shaped hierarchies, with one leader at the top, two or three deputies at the next level, and so on.
A hand sticks out from each pyramid, pointing a gun directly at one of the others. It’s clear. This is war.
And then Satya Nadella became CEO.
Nadella described the era of warring gangs in his 2017 memoir-manifesto, “Hit Refresh:” “Innovation was being replaced by bureaucracy. Teamwork was being replaced by internal politics. We were falling behind.”
“As a 24-year veteran of Microsoft, a consummate insider, the caricature really bothered me. But what upset me more was that our own people just accepted it,” Nadella wrote. “When I was named Microsoft’s third CEO in February 2014, I told employees that renewing our company’s culture would be my highest priority.”
Since becoming CEO, Nadella has been credited with a grand reinvention of Microsoft, exemplified by its market value exceeding $US1 trillion, one of just a handful in history to hit that mark. When Nadella first took over, its market value was around $US300 billion. The company has shifted from a has-been to a cloud powerhouse.
One of the keys to this transformation is a psychological concept that’s become a mantra at Nadella’s Microsoft: growth mindset.