Amidst the gallons of real and digital ink spilled on Bill Gates announcing his planned departure from Microsoft, fascinating for me are the lessons in leadership qualities and organizational processes required to compete in a 21st century networked world.
In The Financial Times June 17-18 article "Hail to the new chief geek" (subscription required), Ozzie is quoted saying:
"Complexity kills"...."It sucks the life ouf of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges and it causes end-user and administrator frustration."
The article reports that within Microsoft Ozzie has championed a development approach similar to what he used at Groove to accomplish more rapid innovation. It involves:
"setting limited but clear objectives for each project and by emphasizing frequent re-releases of software"
a style the author, Richard Waters, suggests is:
"more in keeping with the times than that of Mr. Gates."
Democratization, Wikis and Quests
ZDNet's coverage of the Gates departure story included an interesting piece "Microsoft looks beyond Gates for new ideas" . It reports:
"But while the company is looking for individual leaders, the company is also aiming to further democratize its technical leadership. A key part of that is a new internal communications system designed to allow workers to spitball ideas on where the company should be headed,"
Ina Fried, the story author goes on to say:
"The idea is to draw more of Microsoft's technical minds into the process of planning for the future. "It will be a SharePoint wiki thing internally so people can say where they disagree or we're missing something," Gates said.
It's part of Microsoft's effort to make the company less dependent on any particular individuals, including Gates."
News of this new collaboration tool to encourage sharing came in an interview with Gates and Ballmer that concluded:
Such a system is important for the broadening giant, Ballmer maintains. "We like to think it as a way of being intentional about the key technology transformations that we think will be important over the next 10 years, even if the business models are uncertain, which for a lot of things, they will be uncertain for a long time."
Compensating for Success
Clearly Microsoft is looking forward to being more successful as an organization faced with uncertainty, complexity and growing competition from the likes of Google and open source. Speak with my blogging partner organizational development guru Victoria Axelrod however and you will be asked:
"But is Microsoft changing its compensation program to encourage the collaborative sharing it's new Quest initiative demands?"