Disagreeing with minimsft again

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/07/27 22:00 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/07/27/444171.aspx

Well, our old pal minimsft, has proven that once again, not everyone at Microsoft will agree with what he or she has said.

But I guess I am used to that. We all are at Microsoft (well those who read that blog from time to time).

So what am I disagreeing with? Well, mainly his Great! Amazing! Innovate! Huge! post that went live a little while ago....

It is convenient, when one wishes to place Microsoft in the role of "evil demon" to think ot it as just one single company.

And at a very high level, I suppose we are. But at that very high level, there is only so much that can be said, really.

Example -- when the .NET craze first started (back in the middle of 2000), there was a company transforming vision about this new thing called .NET. There was a lot of excitement, somewhat temped by people like Joel Spolsky, who were smart enough to see back in July of 2000 (didn't I say middle of 2000?) that it did not say very much.

And do you want to know what? Joel is right, it didn't. Duh?

It is really not until the message moves down into levels below Steve Ballmer that it says more. Because the odds of having details that can excite 60,000 people are just about nil -- our jobs (those who have conventional jobs!), our products (those who have conventional products!), our lives (those who have conventional lives!), are simply way too different. About the only thing I have in common with someone who is in marketing for Microsoft Works or user education for Office or an operator for the main phone line in Remond or development for ActiveMates Barney is a blue badge, and I doubt I even have that in common with a subsidiary program manager who works in Microsoft Singapore or someone in PSS (ISS?) for Microsoft Thailand. So how can Steve Ballmer as the CEO send out an email that is less than 1000 printed pages that has relevant detail for every single person, every single product in Microsoft?

He can't, obviously.

He is the freaking CEO of a company that puts out a hugely diverse line of products and services, for crying out loud!

The only way he can talk to everyone is to talk in generslities, and try to get people excited about the broad goals that affect the whole company and everyone in the company. It then becomes of the job of the vice presidents and others below him to take that message and apply it to more specific areas -- the products, the services, and so on. So (to take that middle of 2000 .NET example) they can talk about what .NET will mean in Works, or Office, or Thailand, or the operators who will be taking calls from customers about .NET.

Or even Technical Leads reporting to Development Leads in Globalization Services, who report to Development Managers in GIFT (Globalization Infrastructure, Fonts, and Tools), a big part of GPTS (Global Platform Technologies and Services) headed by Lori Brownell, which is a small but important part of COSD (Windows Core Operating System Division) headed by Brian Valentine, a crucial piece in the Platforms Group headed by Jim Allchin, which is under Steve Ballmer.

(I included names and links for the people I could find public links for, and added adjectives to describe relative importance as I see it; I am sure other groups will see it differently!)

Now of all of these people, who do you expect to have the most relevant details to apply the plan of what Microsoft's big vision has to do with me personally? Steve? Or someone down in the chain who maybe even knows my first name an what I do when I am working?

Every cynical person who is smart enough to recognize this (like me) takes what Steve Ballmer says with a grain of salt, perhaps guesses at what it may mean for him or her, and waits for someone to fill in the spaces.

Every cynical person who is not smart enough to recognize this (like Mini-Microsoft, though I suspect he or she may actually be smart enough -- but likes to complain!) complains about how the emporer has no clothes for them, not realizing (or not admitting) that it is not the emporer who fits their clothes -- it is the local tailor.

Think about it....

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