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Things[5] I Learned About Leadership from the Death and Rebirth of Microsoft (dareobasanjo.medium.com)
13 points by rolph 7 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 5 comments

I'm not sure if I agree with the premise.

Microsoft had a lot of big successes in the "dead" period - Xbox for example is pretty absent, as is Surface. They also had a lot of non-successes that were revolutionary in their own right - basically inventing the first major music streaming service.

Also, most of the key changes at Microsoft were underway before Nadella - most importantly getting business customers to agree to subscription service models and cloud migration.

I wouldn't call their mobile OS a failure. We now see the Windows mobile platform was pretty far ahead of both Apple and Android at the time. The one thing that sunk it was the app store and Google refusing to allow its products to be used on Microsoft's platform.

It's interesting the article completely leaves out how Microsoft abandoning stack ranking when Satya was brought on as the new CEO. Ballmer continued to defend it even after he left the company. I think getting rid of this had a huge impact on the "growth mindset" that allowed them to get out from under a lot of the underperforming products and teams within the company. Instead of competing with each other, they were all on the same team now, trying to collectively push the company in a better direction.

Making a cultural change is hard.

It worked at MS because Satya could do the hard things - killing the Windows Phone, embracing Open source thus signaling to the employees that there would be a radical shift.

Too many companies talk about culture, especially leadership, and not realize that it starts top-down.

MS was a remarkable turnaround story.

No single one item on the list is revolutionary. In fact they all seem like common sense. I think Satya reversed the mis-management of Ballmer mainly. But his cultural changes (even embraced open source) were huge!

Ironically this “death” and “bad leadership” produced the only thing that keeps Microsoft alive today: Azure. It exists only because Gates and Ballmer had the foresight to fund it.

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