Although it’s easy to blame it on Ballmer, it’s also inaccurate.
Microsoft MSFT +4.2%’s trouble started long ago, when it began bleeding talent after the FTC debacle and the resulting heir-apparent exodus of Nathan and Cameron Myhrvold, Brad Silverberg, Paul Maritz and more. Why didn’t the Microsoft board do anything to mitigate this?
Remember when I sent you the “I remember Microsoft” email many months ago? I stressed that it was time for a turnaround. You said it wasn’t that bad. I insisted it was, and even offered to jump on a plane and spend a day onsite—at my expense.
Now you’ll be out in a year so it’s time to get busy. Sorry to be so direct but someone has to be. First, get an executive coach, or if you have one already, fire them. They haven’t been helping you. Then get a new coach and start the turnaround to gain traction and momentum in the next 90 days.
Your team isn’t playing well together so launch a code of conduct so everyone knows the New World Order. They’ll either be on the team or out of the company. You no longer have the luxury for laggards.
Then form the following 4 cross-functional teams of 3-5 leaders each for a 90 day sprint. Include your emerging leaders/high potential folks mixed in with the senior executives. Deliverables are stated below.
1. Cultural Assessment Team TISI -0.16%:Interview a diverse cross-section of employees (varying tenure, across all levels of org chart) to learn how Microsoft lost its soul and why your employees don’t care like they used to. How did your culture become so crushed and fear-based? Find out and form a recovery plan. Call me and I’ll give you the exact process and questions to use.
Timeline: 10 days for interviews and to assess findings, 10 days for action plan, 10 days to develop and launch initial cultural initiatives, 30 days to test with initial diverse employee group. Refine and roll out from there.
Hint: Chances are really good you’ll need to change your comp plans to encourage collaboration, company and cross-functional team results. You have too many wars internally—we must uncover why and create structures that prevent them.
2. Leadership Development Team: Identify the first 3 areas of the company with the greatest leverage. Then cultivate the leaders there via lean training, coaching and IDPs (individual development plans) to ensure their potential is being optimized.
Timeline: 10 days to interview/assess current and emerging leaders in the 3 areas, 10 days to lay out a training and coaching plan and do 360 Assessments in parallel (to ensure you see into each leader’s blindspots), 40 days to get the first signs of progress in behavioral change.
Hint: All your leaders will need about 2 days of training in leadership (focus, clarity, accountability, conflict resolution, sustainability, etc), optimizing teams (collective intelligence, outcome vs. problem focus, agile business process), influence (developing deep rapport and safety/belonging/mattering up/down/across the org chart and outside the company with customers/partners/influencers), change management(moving people through resistance, changing group and individual identity and beliefs for greater power and potential, rapidly enrolling and engaging people).
3. Customer Experience Team: Interview a cross-section of customers and partners (both the promoters and the detractors) and uncover how they became alienated, then form a recovery plan. Again, see me and I’ll provide a proven structure.
Timeline: 15 days for interviews and to assess findings, 20 days to design first draft of customer delight plan, 5 days to verify with initial interviewees, 20 days to test and get initial feedback. Refine and roll out from there.
4. External Influencer Team: Interview a cross-section of influencers—key people in the media, strategic alliances, thought leaders, independent software vendors (both the promoters and the detractors) and ask what you could be doing better to earn their support, then form a recovery plan. Again, see me and I’ll provide a proven structure.
Timeline: 15 days for interviews and to assess findings, 20 days to design first draft of influencer delight plan, 5 days to verify with initial interviewees, 20 days to test and get initial feedback. Refine and roll out from there.
Using an agile approach will get you the rapid transformation you need. After the 90 day sprints we’ll map out the next 9 months.
Steve, you still have time to turn the company around and go out in style. You’ve worked too hard to end it all like this.
Is your company headed for trouble too? Catch the early warning signs in our 3 minute assessment: www.smarttribesinstitute.com/grow