Mini-Microsoft Cutting Room Floor

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Comment Stream - "Microsoft Has Turned The Corner"

Unmoderated comment stream for the latest Mini Microsoft post "Microsoft Has Turned The Cornder." And yes, anonymous comments are currently turned off. You can find my comment in one of the recent posts as to why. You can still post unmoderated comments, you just need to do so through a Google / Blogger ID or through an OpenID. And behind the edits: here's the bit I was going into the weeds on that I gave up. Basically, I was making the argument that we in product development should focus on just being engineers creating a product and that we had allowed ourselves to become way too specialized, actually lobotomizing our ability to get good work done. In unpolished form:

For product development: Yahoo!'s Carol Bartz has a good point when she swears like a sailor over the number of designers and program managers vs. actual developers. In fact, at this point in the history of Microsoft, we need to hit the career reset button: the PM / Test / Dev path has diverged people like Eloi and Morlocks. What I mean is that career development in most groups has become a walled garden of "...oh, the PM will figure that out..." or "...that's not my job, it's the <insert other discipline>'s job..." At the basic level, the PM / Test / Dev designation helps basic ownership. But it has really gone way to far at Microsoft.

What we need to be are engineers. Engineers who code. Engineers who design for our customers and that connect with our customers. Engineers who create automation. Engineers who plan product strategy. Engineers who hammer on the features and rip that little black box apart into scraps. Engineers who can claim responsibility for all of the feature's lifecycle, and for all of the product.

I think of that poster: "None of us is as dumb as all of us." The dumb part is acquiescing all thinking and decision making based on discipline ownership. Too often, teams spend a huge amount of time planning, a huge amount of time stabilizing, and a slice of time actually writing the features, cutting all of the features limb by limb you loaded up on your planning until you've reached a weary consensus of what's left you can do. It's better than the past but it is still hugely inefficient. You need engineers who can demonstrate end-to-end feature development, from rough design to prototype to stable implementation to quality release. You need engineers who can sell their feature ideas with entrepreneurial zeal through running code, not decoupled from reality with Photoshop and PowerPoint.

Who do we keep around? Those folks. Who - from product development - do we throw into my 15,000? The folks walled off into one small part of being an Engineer at Microsoft. Specialization is for insects.


  • sinofsky is a boss. hes one of the most important people in helping you guys turn this corner, and im excited once more about the future of windows, windows live, and IE (with his leadership). tomorrow apparently will mark the launch of Office on the Web. Hopefully it goes ahead and crushes google docs in its path, rather then matching it.

    By Blogger Rahul, at July 12, 2009 at 5:30 PM  

  • I agree with Rahul....Sinofsky is awesome. It seems that every product he touches turns to gold and I really don't think that is accidental. However he manages, it works like magic. IMHO, they should ditch Kevin Turner and make Sinofsky the operations manager. Every product group should report to Sinofsky...I really believe he is that good (although, I don't work at MSFT and don't personally know how he manages...any comments from employees??)

    By Blogger David, at July 12, 2009 at 6:42 PM  

  • Heres an article I read about Sinofsky, which only furthered my appreciation for him:

    Key quotes I enjoyed were:

    He also has a reputation for keeping things low-key and under wraps.

    "Not a lot of leaks come out of organizations run by Sinofsky, and that might be a good thing ... There were times when he was running the Office group that people in the Windows group couldn’t get information about the next version of Office."

    Sounds very Apple-esque in secrecy, which in my mind is a good thing.


    By Blogger Rahul, at July 19, 2009 at 2:57 PM  

  • I so agree they should get rid of that Hill Billie Kevin Turner. That was an embarassing and expensive (40 Million) buddy hire from Steve. What was he thinking. Wal-Mart and MSFT do not mix as a culture and that steve thought we would ever jell with that guy is very telling indeed! Axing that mustache would save a lot of Jobs too. We need to launch a grass roots revolt to clean up our leadership team.

    By Blogger larus, at July 27, 2009 at 7:12 PM  

  • I agree on the point of KevinT. In more than 14 years at MSFT and in the field working with customers everyday, I have to say the 'end' began around 2000 with Orlando Ayala and his huge internal focus. From there, even with SteveB saying that headcount would not grow in corporate, it did...significantly. Way too many MBAs, Oracle/IBM ex-pats and way too many campaigns, duplicative corporate functions, competing fiefdoms and the like threw the sales (EPG) engine into seizure. People like Simon Witts and other EPG leadership as well as on the product side are more concerned about how much budget & headcount they have. Now we have Kevin doing a hatchet job that made little sense in the field. (letting go 100% billing consultants while at an account in the 4th quarter?)..When you have SVPs and other executives shaking their heads with no explanation for who got RIF'd other than "it's just dumb", then you know the company is taking a turn for the worse. The product portfolio may shrink, there are good technology bets being made, but you still need brand & sales/marketing to drive adoption and that engine is broken.

    Interesting notes about Sinofsky. From my perspective, again being in EPG sales management, he was the worst of the 'old guard' that continued to operate as if we were competing with Lotus 123 and the like. His secretive approach towards betas, reluctance to working or even listening to customers was another nail in the msft coffin. Because of Sinofsky and many others, MSFT has seen a YOY drop in Enterprise Agreement renewals...diminished adoption of new versions of Office after every launch.

    Is Yahoo agreement really going to shore up our online biz? Is the MSFT Store really going to drive sales? I see these bets as too big, too late. There needs to be a siginificant paradigm shift in order for this ship to get turned around.

    By Blogger Steve C, at July 29, 2009 at 7:20 AM  

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