Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Good riddance. I left the company because I didn't want to deal with his idea of an ideal organization. I figured he was a shoe-in for CEO and it was just time until everyone was under him. Unfortunately I think he leaves a large trail behind him- too many lower-level people saw no chance to escape his way of doing things other than to leave the company.

Could you please elaborate on why you did not agree with him on his organization plans?

I read his blog posts on their website and always thought he was technical and bearer of change.

There are a great many people in the world who are technical and generally disagreeable.

Similarly, not all change is good change.

Organizational changes in the Windows org increased fan-out and forced managers to take up additional roles, and also decreased leadership opportunities in the org. The changes were in theory supposed to be better for the leaf contributor (now you're only X steps from CEO!), but in reality, having opportunities for growth is probably much more important than having two fewer people between you and the top.

> having opportunities for growth is probably much more important than having two fewer people between you and the top

What a silly antiquated notion. You want a promotion? Start a company. Poof: You're CEO. Just like that. The only growth going on in an organization which uses titles and head counts to signify career progress is a cancerous growth.

Sinofski's approach to organizational design pissed off underperforming people at the top and talented people at the bottom. As a (I'd like to think) talented employee, I quit. As an investor, I'd have backed a Sinofski run Microsoft. His model kept middle tier people making middle tier products. That's what Microsoft has become and it's going to be far easier and more successful to embrace than, than it would be to try to please everybody.

What was his idea of an ideal organization?

I can't be positive what the parent post was referring to, but it's likely it has something to do with re-balancing the dev/test/pm/manager roles. Microsoft had started to get top heavy, so Sinofski had a lot of managers demoted to individual contributors and invented this odd "triad" system of dev/test/pm to try to keep things more balanced. It struck me as a passive aggressive and politically correct way to force some under-performers out. It had the positive side effect of preventing runaway PM orgs, but had the negative side effect of encumbering some well balanced teams. I assumed that it was an interrum strategy to get a handle on organizational complexity. However, other orgs around the company started being "Sinofski-ized" without any real understanding of what that meant.

Precisely. From what I experienced, everything became decision by committee with the triads.

I much prefer the single BOTL (Butt on the line), with every meeting having a single decision maker.

He was a big fan of the triad- Dev, Test & PM, at every level. From what I experienced, at every level you'd have to get sign-off from all 3 for any features to be implemented. That, combined with Microsoft's incredibly deep org structure created a massive number of 'committees' to go through to get signoff for any work to be done.

He was also one to dictate things from up above and it was extremely difficult to understand the reasoning behind them or offer any form of disagreement. Anyone who didn't follow exactly what he wanted, was out.

So basically you'd have committees of 3's (Dev, Test, PM) filtering and relaying every decision. The people who could work the politics would get promoted and the people who understood the details would get frustrated by the top-down ambiguity and falter or leave.

"...you'd have to get sign-off from all 3 for any features to be implemented." "...created a massive number of 'committees' to go through to get signoff for any work to be done."

Did you guys call him Signoffsky? :p

A friend of mine (another ex-softie) described the genius of modern day Microsoft to be taking C players and reliably producing a B product. The triad model seemed to fit right in line with that ideal.

Definition of a BigCo ...

IMO the sign-off culture would be a problem at MS with or without triads. When you have such a large middle-layer (especially ones with ranks like 'partner' who seem to mostly be faking it) there are going to be loads of people whose chief role is to be a gatekeeper who needs to 'sign-off' on something. There are going to be layers of management who want to perform that filtering and relaying you mention, even though it does nothing for the company. And until some kind of purging happens, that won't change.

Honestly it wasn't so bad. PM's with vision and proof could force their will, devs with talent and credibility could dictate the approach, and testers with open eyes could hold the team to their commitments. It's ok to specialize and lean on your partners.

Microsoft was all about this while I was there. It was incredible how much permission you needed to do anything. When I left I found an almost uniform response from other ex-MSFT employees that they "just couldn't get shit done" while there.

This is probably how things work in most big old software corporations. It is not open to big surprises, like a revolutionary new product, or a catastrophic failure. If the company is on a profitable turf, I would say, it is the way to go.

For individuals though, it makes the utterly limiting environment, where gatekeepers and not the ones with merit flourish.

On the bright side, my unscientific observation is that, in the best case, such an organization can go on like this only for one career time (~20 years). So, if you are coming in towards the end of that period, you are in for an adventurous ride.

Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact