The Microsoft Story

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker

What is the Microsoft story? 

Is there more to the story, than a “lost decade”?  (BTW – if you were a developer during the time, you probably experienced some of the most intense transformations … *wild ride*, feels more like it.)

I was listening to one of our gifted storytellers at Microsoft a while back.   Sometimes, story tellers are about making up a bunch of stuff that never happened.  In this case, this storyteller was doing the opposite.  He was putting together the bigger picture, and putting things in context, to help us fully appreciate the story of Microsoft.

The Story Changes Everything

It’s always different when you know the story.  The story changes everything.  People remember stories.  When people know what you are about, and why you do what you do, you are more predictable, more understandable, more believable.

And in the absence of a story, people make up stories.  (And fiction is often more fun than fact.)

I took a lot of notes as the story teller worked his magic, but I had lost them.  I found them, and I may have lost some things in the translation, but I figure now is a good time to share my notes.

The storyteller framed the Microsoft story around three key things:

  1. Who are we?
  2. What drives us?
  3. What is our unique approach?

Story Pillar #1.  Who Are We

Who are the people behind Microsoft?  It’s not just who you see in the news.  It’s the people you don’t see. 

Who don’t you see?  The diverse community of several thousand employees spread over 190 countries.

There are computer scientists, engineers, teachers, ethnographers, musicians, designers, and even rocket scientists (Ironically, I had one on my last team.)

The beauty here is the “Breadth of Experience.”  It’s different points of view coming together to reflect the communities.  On one hand, it’s a global view.  On the other, it’s a very localized view.  For example, if you want to make something as Norwegian as possible, it helps to have a presence in Norway.

Another beautiful thing at Microsoft is the ecosystem.   It’s about being a part of something bigger than yourself.   The power of having a diverse presence makes it possible to build out local software ecosystems, and local partner ecosystems that really know and live the culture.

But what is is that brings everyone to the table? 

Compelling missions … and in this case, “power to the people.”

The Mission at Microsoft

 The mission at Microsoft, simply put is:

Help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential.

Values at Microsoft

Values bring people together.  They are the lightening rod that binds us.  Here are the values at Microsoft:

  • Accountability
  • Big Challenges
  • Constructive Criticism (Bring it)
  • Continual Self-Improvement
  • Customer and Partner focus
  • Execution (See things through.)
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Openness
  • Passion for Technology
  • Personal Excellence
  • Quality
  • Results

Diversity is a big deal.  Check out the “diversity” vision and mission statements:

  • Diversity and Inclusion Mission – Microsoft’s global diversity and inclusion mission is to be the world’s #1 provider of innovative technology solutions that help realize the full potential of its diverse customers and partners around the world.
  • Diversity and Inclusion Vision – To be led by a globally diverse workforce that consistently delivers outstanding business results, understands the various cultural demands of a global marketplace, is passionate about technology and the promise it holds to tap human potential, and thrives in a corporate culture where inclusive behaviors are valued.

In my experience, Microsoft is bunch of people with a passion for more from life who want to change the world.

Story Pillar #2. What Drives Us

Is it fame?  Is it fortune?  No.  It’s impact.

Actually, it’s three things:

  1. Big, bold goals.
  2. A PC on every desk.
  3. Empowering everyone.

“I’m here because I think I can change the world.”

“Even when we were small we dreamed big.”

The PC on every desktop was a moonshot.

“Empowerment for everyone.” (around the world)

It’s not just people who can afford technology

BUT — it’s no longer a PC on every desktop …

“It’s devices connected to services to do what they want, when they want around the world.”

Actually, I think of this as personal computing at your finger tips — a machine to do your dirty work so you can innovate and create more wonderful things for the world.  We now live in a world where a developer can spin up a datacenter at their fingertips and create the next best service the world has ever known.

Story Pillar #3.  What is our unique approach?

What makes us different

  1. Personal – People are at the center.  It’s a people-centered approach.  It’s not a one-size fits all.
  2. Partnerships – It’s an ecosystem of ecosystems.
  3. Persistence – Microsoft is a learning company.

It’s about the ecosystems:

  1. Software ecosystem (Writing code, developing solutions)
  2. Hardware ecosystem
  3. Partner ecosystem

There is power in persistence.  After all, if you take on big problems, you have to be persistent.  For example, take Xbox.  Nobody would connect a game device to the Internet, right?  And let’s take scalability.  Microsoft doesn’t get scalability the way  a few Oracle, Sun, or IBM does, right?

And how ironic.   When you succeed, the focus changes.

OK – so now you’re an Enterprise company – but you don’t understand the consumer.

Ah, it smells like another learning opportunity and a chance for the power of persistence to rise and shine.

Where are We Going?

You’ve seen XBox SmartGlass.   You’ve seen Microsoft Surface.   You’ve seen Windows Azure.   You’ve seen   You’ve seen Office 365.  You’ve seen Windows 8.  You’ve seen Kinect (But have you heard the stories of how doctors are using it?)

Getting the user experience right is a big deal.   You don’t want big Windows on a little device — that’s how Windows CE happened.

You’ve seen where things are going with the user experience and the UI.  (How many people like to play with their tiles, when nobody is looking?)

Just think “3 Screens and a Cloud” … connected to services.  At the end of the day, you can keep things really simple when you think of three screens and a cloud … little screens, medium screens, and big screens.  Screens change things, and that’s where user experience can make or break the day.

Think “The Right Cloud for the Job” — Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud — It’s great to have choices.  The power of choice means you can put the processing where it makes the most sense – and that’s a timeless principle.   Choice means customers can choose the Cloud approach that works for them, not a “one-size fits all” option.

When you have passionate people and that kind of power of the platform on your side, from the software to the ecosystem, you can’t help but to think in a Dr. Seuss way, and imagine … Oh, the Places You’ll Go.

Now, I can’t help but to ask …

Where do YOU want to go today?

You have a tribe of many thousands of Softies strong on your side, with a passion for more from life, and ready to change the world with you.

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Satya Nadella on Empowering Every Person on the Planet
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Satya Nadella on the Future is Software
Satya Nadella on the Key to Longevity
Steve Ballmer on a Big Vision


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