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Socialogy Interview: Ana Silva

Is Nadella Going To Do Something Big, Or Just Fiddle Around?

Ben Thompson thinks the only jhope for Microsoft is a break-up, This is in parallel with what I have been saying: if Microsoft is to grown into a modern enterprise software player, Nadella will have to jettison Windows.

Here’s Thompson’s take:

Ben Thompson, It’s Time to Split Up Microsoft

For all the talk of moving beyond Windows (and Windows Phone), I am deeply skeptical that Microsoft can truly pursue its potential as a software and services company as long as Windows is around. Culture is developed over years, and for decades everything at Microsoft was about Windows. Read again Ballmer’s statement:

Nothing is more important at Microsoft than Windows

The problem for Nadella and Microsoft is that ultimately this wasn’t a declaration of strategy; it was a declaration of fact, and facts don’t change by fiat.

[…]

In other words, keep Windows as a cash cow, but be explicit that the future was in cross-platform services. Unfortunately, this was before the Nokia deal. The effects of that deal – and understanding why it was made – have convinced me that Microsoft cannot truly reach its potential as a services company as long as Windows and the entire devices business is in tow.

In short, it’s time to break Microsoft up.

[…]

I would create two companies: the devices side, which includes Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox, and let them do the best they can to grow that 14% [the percentage of total devices running Windows COO Kevin Turner talked about last week]. Heck, make Kevin Turner the CEO. Windows profits will keep the company going for quite a while, and who knows, maybe they’ll nail what is next.

The other company, the interesting company, is the services side – the productivity side, to use Nadella’s descriptor. This company would be built around Office, Azure, and Microsoft’s consumer web services including Bing, Skype and OneDrive. These products don’t need Windows; they need permission to be the best regardless of device.

Of course, the Windows company does need Office, and Azure, and all the other Microsoft growth engines, and this cleavage would likely hasten Windows’ decline. But that’s exactly why a split needs to happen: anything Office or Azure or Microsoft’s other services do to prop up Windows – that focuses on that 14% – by definition limits Microsoft’s opportunity to address the far bigger part of the pie that ought to be the future.

We’ll have to see if Nadella does any of this, but so far all he has done is announce layoffs and cancel the Android experiment on Nokia phones.

Will Nadella be a Tim Cook or a Marissa Mayer? Will he have the courage and vision to steer a post-Ballmer/post-Gates Microsoft into a new future, or will he lose years fiddling at the margins and ‘building culture’ while Apple, Amazon, and Google come to dominate the enterprise space? 

Is there another form of communication besides email where the acknowledged goal is to hide all of the communication? Email has evolved into a weird medium of communication where the best thing you can do is destroy it quickly, as if every email were a rabid bat attacking your face. Yet even the tragically email-burdened still have a weird love for this particular rabid, face-attacking bat. People love to tweet about how overwhelming it all is. They write articles about email bankruptcy and proclaim their inbox zero status. Email is broken, everyone agrees, but it’s the devil we know. Besides, we’re just one app away from happiness. A tremendous amount of human energy goes into propping up the technological and cultural structure of email. It’s too big to fail.

fastcompany:

The Hackable Office Furniture Of The Future Lets You Create Any Office You Want

Open office? Cubicle? Why not both? Herman Miller’s Metaform furniture makes the question of workspace layout obsolete. Now you can morph your desk from a conference room to a cubicle, any time you want.

Read More>

Now that I am standing ~100% images like these make me realize how sitting-oriented office furniture is. Not a single standing desk set up in these photos, although the lower left one might be usable that way, if you rolled the chairs out of the way.

There are, of course, lots of ways to resist progress. People take up knitting or quilting or calligraphy. They bake their own bread or brew their own beer or sew their own clothes using felt they have fashioned out of wet wool and dish soap. But, both in the scale of its ambition and in the scope of its anachronism, paleo eating takes things to a whole new level. Our Stone Age ancestors left behind no menus or cookbooks. To figure out what they ate, we have to dig up their bones and study the wear patterns on their teeth. Or comb through their refuse and analyze their prehistoric poop. And paleo eating is just the tip of the spear, so to speak. There are passionate advocates for paleo fitness, which starts with tossing out your sneakers. There’s a paleo sleep contingent, which recommends blackout curtains, amber-tinted glasses, and getting rid of your mattress; and there are champions of primal parenting, which may or may not include eating your baby’s placenta. There are even signs of a paleo hygiene movement: coat yourself with bacteria and say goodbye to soap and shampoo.
Nothing can compete with the shimmering immediacy of now, and not just when seismic events take place, but in our everyday lives. We are sponges and we live in a world where the fire hose is always on.

Like A Peloton, Not A Machine

Organizational metaphors can be helpful to think about what’s going on in work culture. Gareth Morgan’s Images of Organizationis a great compendium of metaphors: organization as a machine, organism, brain, culture, political systems, etc. I also find Joanne Martin’s analysis of contending perspectives in management thinking a compelling technique (see Metaphors matter: Talking about how we talk about organizations).

Dan Pontefract has an interesting metaphor to share

Maybe if we were to act like a peloton in our organizations, we might see higher levels of employee engagement.

peloton2

What’s a peloton?

In cycling speak, it’s what a pack of cyclists are called when they ride together. Check out the photo to the right for an example.

A peloton is a massive group of riders who ultimately work together — as a team — to move from one distance to another. Take away competitive cycling competitions for a moment (eg. Giro d’Italia or Tour de France) and think about amateur cyclists going out for weekend rides or events like the GranFondo between Vancouver and Whistler.

These women and men ride together as a team but what happens along the journey?

  • Sharing The Lead
    • Cyclists take turns at the front of the pack (ie. the peloton) to both set the pace and to protect others behind them from the wind. (A process known as drafting)
    • Those in front exert extra effort so others in the back can save some of their energy for their turn at the front at another interval in the ride
  • Proactive Communication
    • Often in a peloton, cyclists are proactively communicating with each other
    • If there is debris on the road, hand signals from whomever is in front alerts cyclists in the back to be careful
    • “On your right” or “stopping” are simple examples that cyclists shout out in the peloton to inform others of their intentions
    • “My turn to share the front” or “anyone need food or water” are other proactive examples of communication happening inside the peloton
  • Encouragement and Recognition
    • Whenever there are difficult impediments like tough gradients, sideways wind, pellets of rain, or even the successful maneuvering around unforeseen wildlife, cyclists from within the peloton are quick to recognize the effort or encourage the effort to continue
    • It really is a culture of encouragement inside the peloton

I like the peloton metaphor for the way that riders take turns as leader, and then fall back after making that contribution. This aligns with the notion of leanership very well.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

Terrible book, but a great quote.


Forebruary is a wall calendar that you do not need to replace every year. The movable frame above the surface contains the month needed.
- Ilya Birman

Forebruary is a wall calendar that you do not need to replace every year. The movable frame above the surface contains the month needed.

- Ilya Birman