Can a Microsoft Insider Really Be An Innovative CEO?

February 7th, 2014 by Rob Berman Leave a reply »

'Microsoft_logo' photo (c) 2011, jonobacon - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ Microsoft desperately wants to be perceived as innovative again.  Microsoft has declared its innovativeness in newspaper ads.  We have always felt deeds were more important than words.

CEO Search Shows Lack of Innovation

The search for a new CEO at Microsoft has been a bit of a media circus since August of 2013 when Steve Ballmer announced he would step down.  Why?

Mr. Ballmer continued to make major strategic changes to the organization that should have been left to the new CEO.  The purchase of Nokia’s handset business and an entirely new employee evaluation system come to mind as examples.

Many talented Silicon Valley leaders, as well as those in other parts of the world, have passed on the opportunity.  They did not want to change or reverse some of these major strategic decisions when they arrived.  They also feared having the only two CEOs in company history sitting on the Board of Directors passing judgment upon their actions.  Do you think someone like Alan Mulally, the highly successful change agent and CEO at Ford would take on Microsoft? No.  That is why he publicly declined the opportunity

Why Does Microsoft Need to Be More Innovative?

  • Stagnant Share Price:  Split adjusted it is now at its March 2000 level
  • Perception and reality that they are falling behind tech giants like Google and Apple.
  • Insular culture known for big egos and heated arguments.
  • Unhealthy Windows focus that crowds out other ideas.

Good Luck to the New CEO

Satya Nadella was recently announced as the new CEO. He is the ultimate insider, having spent the last 22 years working at Microsoft. We remind him of a comment he made in October 2013, “Relevance comes with innovation and marketplace success.  The marketplace will speak so loudly and so clearly that it will not be ambiguous.”

We also would like to suggest he contact fellow Seattle area CEO Howard Schultz at Starbucks. Schultz reorganized senior management to permit him to step away from some of the day-to-day management.  A Starbucks press release explained the change “Schultz will expand his focus on innovation in coffee, tea and the Starbucks Experience as well as next generation retailing and payments initiatives in the areas of digital, mobile, card, loyalty and e-commerce to position Starbucks for its next wave of global growth.”

The Takeaway

Top management must live and breathe innovation, not just give it lip service.

 Over to you.   What do you think? Please comment below.

  1. Do you feel that an insider can create a new culture and climate of innovation at Microsoft?
  2. What advice would you give the new CEO of Microsoft?
  3. Should Microsoft continue its move into hardware as a way to innovate?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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