Are we functional (part deux)?

 It’s been over seven years since Windows 7 launched. Inside Microsoft, one of the more controversial elements of that launch was the change Steven Sinofsky made to the Windows organization at the start of that product’s planning and development. Coming over from Office, Steve switched Windows’ structure from having many product unit managers (PUMs running…

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Mysterious mages among us

 Roaming the halls of Microsoft (or any mid- to large-sized business), you’ll find mysterious mages seemingly directing the inner workings of our business. Their powers are elusive to the rest of us. Are they friend or foe? Do they control our fate? I’m speaking of the magical members of the legal, human resources (HR), and…

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Moving forward

 My youngest child left for college more than a year ago, leaving my wife and me with an empty nest. We knew someday we’d need to move for health, family, or financial reasons, but our old house is wonderful. It’s comfortable and familiar, full of fond memories and accumulated belongings, and near to friends and…

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More money, more problems

 In Staying small, I exposed how big teams are inherently slow and thus less productive, responsive, and competitive. However, I only scratched the enormous surface of large teams and large budgets. You’d think that having lots of money and lots of people would always be an advantage. You’d think wrong. Throwing money and people at…

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Being big

 In March, I sang the praises of Staying small, as each team focuses solely on its added value, and we share more as One Microsoft. If you agree that to go fast you must be small (which I do and you should), then shouldn’t Microsoft be much smaller? According to the 2013 Fortune 500, we…

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Vision quest

 On August 23, 2013, Steve Ballmer announced he would retire within 12 months. I’ve been a big fan of Steve since I joined the company in 1995. At the annual company meetings back then, there were only three presentations that counted: Bob Herbold’s financial review, Bill Gates’ technical vision, and Steve Ballmer’s pep rally. Steve’s…

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Fixing five fundamental flaws

 After decades as a professional software engineer, working for six different firms (large and small), I can honestly say that Microsoft is by far the best. I can also honestly say that Microsoft is far from perfect. My monthly rants typically focus on problems that individual engineers or managers can change by being better individual…

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The new Microsoft

 The Microsoft Company Meeting was a few weeks ago. If you love the tech status quo inside or outside of Microsoft, seek shelter. How the company operates and how it engages with customers and the markets is about to change. All the signs were there in the Seattle Key Arena for anyone to notice. All…

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Master of your domain

 If you had to choose between hiring an outstanding candidate with only related domain knowledge and a solid candidate with specific domain knowledge, who would you select? At Microsoft, we generally select the outstanding candidate, figuring a talented employee can quickly learn a domain. That is, unless the employee already works here. If the outstanding…

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Are we functional?

When Steven Sinofsky and Jon DeVaan took on joint management of Windows® 7, they made several significant changes to the entire organization. Two profound changes were creating a single centralized plan and switching to a functional organizational structure. Given the success of Windows 7, some Microsoft® engineers are asking, “If my PUM is a bum—is…

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