Microsoft phenomenon: The annual award that winds up being awarded only once

The Grammy Awards will be handed out this upcoming weekend, an annual award that seems to have survived.

A not uncommon phenomenon at Microsoft is the annual award that winds up being awarded only once. Because all the excitement is in the announcement, not in the actual award.

Every year, we want to uniquely call out and recognize a set of people. I'm proud to kick off the XYZ Awards, which we will be given every year, starting this year, which recognize employees who best represent ABC and DEF.

The XYZ Awards were indeed handed out that first year with great pomp and circumstance.

And were never heard from again.

This is a special case of the more general phenomenon of the introduction of some undertaking to great fanfare, only to have it quietly fade away into obscurity without any formal announcement that it had ended. One might cynically observe that the likelihood of this happening to your project increases the more dramatically it is introduced. If it's just called a program, then it might survive. If it's called an initiative, then you might want to hold off on ordering new business cards for a while. And if it's called a bold new initiative, then you'll want to spend some time freshening your résumé, because your project is doomed.

Update since people seem to be missing the point: I'm not talking about marketing campaigns. Those are meant to die out eventually. I'm talking about stuff like The Council for Programming Excellence (which meets only once) or The DTI Program (which has a kickoff meeting and then nothing).

Comments (19)
  1. John says:

    "the introduction of some undertaking to great fanfare, only to have it quietly fade away into obscurity without any formal announcement that it had ended"

    Vista?  Sorry, I had to.

  2. porter says:

    Mentioning grammys etc made me think of film..

    For a whole hundred years "20th Century Fox" sounded modern and with-it……

  3. Michael says:

    John, your comment doesn’t even make any sense.  I seem to recall a good amount of fanfare around the Windows 7 launch.

  4. Mark Jonson says:

    @porter I’ve insisted for 10 years now that they change the name to 21st Century Fox, just to keep things up-to-date.

  5. Aaargh! says:

    "As a matter of principle, I never attend the first annual anything."

    — George Carlin, US comedian and actor (1937 – 2008)

  6. WS says:

    I’ve seen many initiatives like that. They often have "quality" in the name, or "innovation". Or it’s an employee review process. Once upon a time they used be e-something, such as e-Action. That’s not cool e-nough any more, so they nicked ideas from Apple and so now we have iGrow, iConnect. It really is the same old new thing coming around again. iCaramba!

  7. Chris says:

    Really, its worth more to have the only award, long history and legacies be damned.

  8. Ifeanyi Echeruo says:

    Please join me in celebrating the launch of e-Insight, a bold new initiative wherein I put blog posts on my door in recognition of insightful observation of corporate zeitgeist.

  9. Leo Davidson says:

    "Welcome to the first annual celebration of the end of the universe!…<bang>"

    (Hmm, I guess Douglas Adams already made that joke and better. :))

  10. Metro Sauper says:

    This same scenario plays out for Newsletters.  You always get the first one, often get a second one, sometimes get a third one, and rarely get a fourth one.

  11. Adam V says:

    @Leo: Wouldn’t that be "</bang>"?

  12. Alexandre Grigoriev says:

    How about "Heroes Happen Here"?

  13. Leo Davidson says:

    @Adam V: I figured it’d start a bit early, or not at all. :)

    I think when the universe ends pretty much all XML decoders will throw some kind of exception even on the best-formed inputs, too! :D

  14. What happens when it is called a quest :)

    (Yes, we really have quests… we’ll at least we did last year.  I haven’t heard about them in a while).

    Tenets are in their own category.

  15. Jonathan says:

    You forgot to mention the obligatory website, forever frozen on the exciting announcement of the winner of the first year ceremony, awarded by great managers who have long moved into greener pastures,.

  16. C++ guy says:

    Nice observation.

  17. Boris says:

    20th Century Fox is a result of two companies merging. 20th Century Pictures and Fox Film merged in 1935 and initially had a hyphen between 20th Century and Fox, so it’s only been "hip" for 65 years (or 67 if you count from when 20th Century Pictures was founded).

    This doesn’t really explain why they kept the name, but there’s also 20th Television (Founded in 1992), the only branch of News Corp to not only use "20th" without "Fox", but also without "Century", so maybe there is still some sort of separation between "20th" and "Fox" divisions within News Corp.

    There is also "Fox 21" a relatively minor Television division within 20th Century Fox, so someone’s at least thinking about this.

  18. Ray (not that one) says:

    Yeah we get those here, and for extra bonus points in the first related meeting we get told:

    “Yes i *know* that the last seventeen times we said this was the big new thing and we were sticking with it to the end, but this time we really mean it. We need you to all pull together and support [GREAT_NEW_INITIATIVE].”

    A few weeks later…

  19. The mouse says:

    I would award a star to the first comment. It’s so logical and natural.

Comments are closed.