If Steve Ballmer Ran Apple

This thoughtful article by Ben Thompson (who has spent time working at Apple, Microsoft and more recently at Automattic) was originally posted before Ballmer announced his forced retirement. A hypothetical that is next to an impossibility to happen, but perfectly highlights the endemic culture present at Microsoft. This is highly unlikely to change with a new CEO or a shift to a functional structure, and the turmoil certainly doesn’t help.

“Ballmer is a master at pushing a successful product to a dominant position and extracting the profits that follow. He demonstrated this not just in his time as CEO, but in his previous role as the head of sales and marketing. Microsoft’s truly remarkable run of ever-rising revenue and profits is the direct responsibility of Ballmer. But, this run of ever-rising revenue and profits, and the means by which it was generated, were also the same reason opportunities have been missed … And so, dollars and cents were a central focus for Ballmer, and for Microsoft. Employees were incentivized by dollars and cents in the form of bonuses and stock grants. Bonuses and stock grants were tied to a stack ranking system, that devolved your performance to a number. What was measurable mattered, particularly if it was measured in money. The result is inevitable: Microsoft is a company filled with people motivated by measurables like salary, bonus, and job level. Anyone who isn’t would necessarily leave.2 Unsurprisingly, said people make choices based on measurables, whether those be consumer preferences, focus group answers, or telemetrics. The human mind is flexible, but only to a point.”

Read More

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s