MICROSOFT'S NEW CEO: This Is The Big Culture Change We Need

Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella speaks!

He gave his first interview to the New York Times. It’s not really about the specific challenges for Microsoft. It’s mostly about his management style.

However, there is one semi-specific piece about how he wants to change the culture at Microsoft:

So how do you create that self-organising capability to drive innovation and be focused? And the high-tech business is perhaps one of the toughest ones, because something can be a real failure until it’s not. It’s just an absolute dud until it’s a hit. So you have to be able to sense those early indicators of success, and the leadership has to really lean in and not let things die on the vine. When you have a $US70 billion business, something that’s $US1 million can feel irrelevant. But that $US1 million business might be the most relevant thing we are doing.

To me, that is perhaps the big culture change — recognising innovation and fostering its growth. It’s not going to come because of an org chart or the organizational boundaries. Most people have a very strong sense of organizational ownership, but I think what people have to own is an innovation agenda, and everything is shared in terms of the implementation.

Our emphasis is added.

Previous CEO Steve Ballmer focused most of his energy on how Microsoft made money. When he was giving one of his final interviews as CEO, he said that from day one his job at Microsoft was to figure out how to make money.

“How do you make money? How do you make money? How do you make money?” was Ballmer’s obsession. He added, “That doesn’t mean nobody else ever thought about it, but ‘How do you make money?’ was what I got hired to do. I’ve always thought that way.”

That sort of thinking probably had some detrimental effects on Microsoft, because it led to short term thinking that blocked it from big opportunities.

Would Microsoft ever give away an operating system like Android under Ballmer? No way. Would Microsoft put Office on iOS and risk damaging the Windows business? No way.

Nadella is saying that his job isn’t to think about money, it’s to think about innovation. And later on the innovation can blossom into a something that makes money.

This is a big cultural change at Microsoft, and its success or failure will define Nadella’s tenure.

Read more at the NYT >

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