A few weeks ago I came to the realization that at Microsoft we have relatively few meetings. I know – it is probably something I should have picked up ages ago, but its not until you are insanely busy that you notice it – or maybe I’ve just got a grip…
Anywho, this one thing stands out as a huge differentiator about working at Microsoft compared to pretty much any organization I’ve worked at in the past. I’ve worked for big multi national companies before as well as small start up companies and can say that Microsoft seems to have as few as start ups.
That’s not to say we don’t have meetings – we have performance review meetings (normally 1:1’s) and a variety of other meetings related to customers or whatever, but there are none of the long drawn out project meetings that other companies seem to have
Why is this? I’ve been thinking about this, and I think part of the reason for it is that Microsoft has an internal culture of trust. Each of us have very specific outcomes that we need to drive and we are held responsible for those outcomes. Failing to achieve those outcomes means you have broken trust and this obviously affects relationships in the team. As a result the general culture at Microsoft is to deliver on what you promised and a high level of accountability based on integrity. This one underlying cultural component allows us to do away with many of the project based meetings that you’d typically have.
To bring this home, as we are running Tech Ed we are working across geographical boundaries (Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK) to put together the event, and this means the occasional phone call, and once a week conference calls, but those calls are short (normally less than 30 minutes) and agendas are normally to the point. To a large extent everyone knows exactly what they need to do and have clear deadlines and simply deliver to the deadline. Any questions are handled with a quick and simple phone call and a quick decision.
For example on Wednesday we had our first Tech Ed NZ stakeholder meeting. It was 45 minutes long had around 13 people in attendance and really served more as a status report than anything else.
That’s not to say that we haven’t started Tech Ed planning. At the meeting we were told that we have only 150 tickets left (buy one today if you want to go at all), and the speakers and tracks are around 99% locked down (more on this later).
Its great to work at an organization where everyone knows what they need to do and just go and do it. It saves loads of time and things get done efficiently.