Read Steven Snyder’s Blog
In the 1980′s, when I worked for Microsoft, you could feel the buzz. We were only 250 employees back then, but each one brought enormous drive and energy. The company worked together as one—the whole greater than the sum of the parts.
Microsoft still has some of the most talented employees in the world, now numbering over 100,000. They’ve fallen behind because they’ve not been able to fully channel those capabilities to meet changing market needs.
The appointment of Satya Nadella, a Microsoft veteran of 22 years, has drawn much criticism.
Many argue that Microsoft should have recruited from the outside. But these critical voices do not fully understand the complexity and risks of bringing in outside leadership.
It is easy to point to the spectacular turnaround of IBM by outsider Lou Gerstner in the 1990′s. But, there have been some monumental failures as well, when outsiders have acted without fully understanding the facts on the ground. Just look at what Ron Johnson did to JC Penney or what Leo Apotheker did to HP.
Nadella knows Microsoft intimately, and can draw on its many strengths. In addition to a talented work force, they have a hugely profitable business, plenty of cash, and a large customer base.
This is not to minimize Nadella’s challenges. Technology is changing rapidly, and Microsoft has been out of touch in many ways. Product development cycles need to be drastically reduced. And energy draining fiefdoms must be eliminated and a culture revived.