Hmm, I always get a fluttering feeling in my stomach when I decide to write one of my “good time not a long time” posts, but I always believe that this is just the signal for why I should, rather than shouldn’t, post my thoughts.
(Queue Stairway to Heaven music)
I started at Microsoft in March, 2005, and my reasons for joining varied from adolescent lust to technophile curiosity. My background has always been around trying to break it big. I’m passionate, intense, curious (as in how things work, not as in a spectacle!), and driven by a strong competitive desire. I want to create awesome things, have lots of people kick butt with them, and beat anyone else to the punch.
So I came to Microsoft with two key wishes. The first was to find truly amazing people who could inspire me beyond my own dreams and ambitions, people you could push me to do things I never thought possible, because they showed me a level to aspire to. The second was to work in an organization that valued my desire, my smarts, my passion, and gave me everything I needed to do something revolutionary! An organization with the resources and mind share to give me a platform from which my imagination and energy could be channeled and multiplied to the world! In short, I came to Microsoft to increase my chances to changing the world!
So what did I find? Well I definitely found smart people, I mean, jeez, did I find smart people. I’ve met some of the smartest, most passionate, driven individuals I have every met in my life, let alone in my career field. And resources, forget about it! We don’t only have phat cash, but some of the strongest and productive relationships on the globe, with the biggest players from Intel to HP.
But what I didn’t find, what I had hoped to find, what today, I absolutely need to find, is imagination! Today, Microsoft is a company of people who have had their imagination systematically managed out of them by onerous process, tactical bullying, and customary mediocrity.
“Ouch!” I hear you wince! “Lemphers is writing his own pink slip, now that’s self service!” But I disagree! What I’m calling for is not my immediate dismissal (‘cos that would just suck), but a revolution! A rebellion! An old fashioned coup d’état!
Why!? Because right now, an energy is developing within Microsoft! It’s an energy of change, a desire to do things different, to mix it up, to break the bonds, to question the “authoritah”! And without something extreme to aspirate it, it’s going to die, and the only chance we have to change the world will die with it.
I mean, it kills me that, in today’s world, the Web n.0 world, the from brain’stream to mainstream world, some of the best hackers in the world are locked up at Microsoft doing extreme email and meet’athons!
I think about all our talented developers, marketers, managers, with development coursing through their veins, who in this new world of instant product’ification via the cloud, could be bombarding the Interweb with some of the finest apps around!
And the revolution needs to come from within, because, without it, we are all destined for a lifetime of bondage to our inboxes, internal meeting rooms, and conference call facilities. Is that what we want!? Is that what YOU want!?
So what do we need!?
The first demand is an environment of innovation. We need a company that invests in its people, that empowers them up to think up amazing, crazy, almost ridiculous ideas, then act on those ideas, and have a way to get them out to the world for judgement. We want to be able to free ourselves from the fear of our performance reviews, from the scary spreadsheets with lots of numbers, graphs and colors. Instead, the biggest challenges we want is what will be the next killer app from Microsoft; thought of last month, built last week, in your hands today! Not how do I keep my email down to a manageable 1000 items!
The second demand is that we stop being afraid to try something scary. We need to break down the pigeon holes, rub out the lines in the sand, free up our thinking. We’re not a company that should fear innovation at the grass roots. We don’t need product and project management committees, marketing consultants, legal experts, blah blah blah, to launch a product!!! We need seat of your pants action! We need to get involved! No one steps out of grandma’s car after a trip to the supermarket and yells, “Wow!”. Sure, you get there in one piece, like everyone else, but that’s not living! Living is “borrowing” your parents car, driving it like you stole it, and getting grounded until your married! Why? Because otherwise, you don’t know how far to push it!
It’s about taking risks, and apologizing later. It’s about pushing the boundaries to see how far they go, because, each time they stretch, the world of “no you can’t do that” changes forever! It’s about being afraid of standing still, and playing it safe. It’s about welcoming constant change and challenge. It’s about feeling uneasy!
So where do you want to go today!? And it better not be in grandma’s car! :@