Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Great! Amazing! Innovate! Huge!

Wow, it's about twelve hours after I read Steve Ballmer's Going Beyond and Delivering Results employee email and my orifices are still puffing out the smoke that was so deeply loaded into them.

Talk about a 100% rah-rah content-free blah-blah-blah feel like I'm being sold a bunch of numbers disconnected from reality just what did we ship anyways rambling must stop email. It makes me want to fire up a Perl script just to count the superlatives that make up, it seems, half the content of the message. But as you all know, I'm too lazy to do that, so how about me typing interesting words as I scan through the text of the message:

Innovating! Amazing! Huge! Unbounded! Innovation! Rocking! Incredible! Impressive! Super critical! Huge! Amazing! Innovate! Innovative! Powerful! Huge! Innovation! Breakthrough! Phenomenal! Innovation! Strong! Great! Innovating! (then it takes a moment for reasonable writing.) Incredible! Amazing! Superior! Exceeding! Delighting! (Linux stories - yeah, those are fun.) Superior! Superior! Thanks! Incredible innovation! Drive! Passion! Innovation! Commitment!

I thinketh the CEO doth praise too much.

I want to be motivated. Like Mulder, I want to believe. Only this case instead of a UFO poster I have a picture of a happy smiley Ballmer with all these exclamations shooting out of his mouth. But I feel kind of down after reading this email. It's as if a good friend has just tried to manipulate me and my understanding of reality and they're standing in-front of me, smiling, waiting for my acquiescence.

I can only guess that this is laying the stage for the Financial Analysts Meeting coming up at Microsoft this Thursday. Oh, if I could only get there in time to put up all sorts of questions these analysts need to be drilling Microsoft about. But I'm hoping that crowd is bringing both hip waders and BS detectors and won't be shy to call BS.

We'll see when their write-ups start appearing later in the week.

 

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

He's a marketer, what do you expect? It's too bad cheerleading can't be traded on the open market because maybe then our stock price would do something.

Anonymous said...

You actually read it?

I glanced over it, rolled my eyes, and deleted it.

I increasingly get these types of mails fwd'd to me by co-workers with sarcastic remarks, but I've always been afraid of the accidental 'R' :)

Anonymous said...

You know what would motivate me? A decent raise.

Period.

Anonymous said...

The analysts will ask a number of polite questions and then one or two "tougher" ones (to show they're not giving management a totally free ride). None of the latter will even approach tough in any real sense of the word so forget them asking any of the excellent business/operational concerns raised in bagholders FANTASTIC blog. The analyst know that if they drill MSFT, they'll be persona non grata and so will their firm who undoubtedly is either in the MSFT corporate trough or wants to be. Trust me, every year I wait for them to ask even the obvious questions - like gee Steve, how do you buyback $8B worth of stock and only reduce shares outstanding by 45M? They never do.

methylamine said...

One of the reasons I left, actually.

I felt the same fatigue as you, Mini. At that fateful MGB where SteveB did the "developers-developers-developers" thing (I was about ten rows back) I felt amazing, invincible, "Hey-we-really-get-it-again"...We're gonna innovate, we're gonna be cool again, .NET is super-duper awesome.
Yeah right; three reorgs later with plunging morale and these sincere little pep-talks incessantly plastered across my inbox, The Cynicism became strong in me.

Actually this may be a larger problem. Organizations haven't caught on to the fact that everyone under 50 has been plastered with marketing, lies, and politicians so much they're basically immune. Blogs and other honest (or at least *genuine*) outlets have rendered Spin Doctoring (tm) obsolete...it just doesn't work anymore, so don't insult my intelligence by trying!

Watch out for the big "R" when you do the mocking forwards to your friends :)

methylamine

Anonymous said...

yes, i agree it was a bit over the top but on the other hand it would be nice if someone would actually dispute the facts/statistics he put forth. It's just too easy to be cooly cynical really.

Anonymous said...

Assume this is the annual memo to employees? If so, has anyone seen it published externally yet? Can't wait to read this one. I bet he dropped last year's "the company is best positioned since 98 to grow the stock" since that one turned out to be a complete failure.

Anonymous said...

"You know what would motivate me? A decent raise."

Sorry, to get that, you'll have to climb the ladder to top 20% where you can then put on your feed bag and inhale your share of the 80% of $4-6B in annual stock comp (no one knows for sure because they bury it so well) that goes to that group. Plus, you can kick back and put in an absolutely pathetic performance and it won't negatively impact you at all - unlike at your level. Sweet!

Alternatively, provide your own raise by investing in every main rival to MSFT's emerging businesses ('cause you know they're going to continue kicking MSFT's ass) or simply short the stock. Those 08 put options, for example, could provide for a nice retirement assuming the company continues on its current trajectory...

Microsophist said...

You think Ballmer's email is pathetic? You should have been at the Tools and Server Division All Hands meeting two weeks ago. I'd love to know what it cost us to send the entire division downtown for that "morale" event.

The show opened with a Star Wars movie clip starring Eric Rudder and his reports that looked like it was produced by Lucas Films. The rest of the event seemed to be similarly focused on convincing everyone what a bunch of rock stars the VPs are. Then Ballmer gets up and blathers on for 45 minutes about revenue growth. I don't think he mentioned the word "earnings" once. He also said "blah blah blah" alot. I mean, he literally said "blah blah blah" at least three times.

Hey Server and Tools division - when you get your puny little bonuses, at least you'll know where the rest of the money went.

Anonymous said...

The 20 of you on this board all sound like blah, blah, blah, blah. Why not just leave already and stop this silly guise of wanting to "help." Seriously, if you hate it that much, just leave. Or maybe, just maybe, your part of that small percentage of the company who were bad hires and are basically unemployable elsewhere. In that case, enjoy the ride. Do something productive...

Anonymous said...

"The 20 of you on this board all sound like blah, blah, blah, blah. Why not just leave already and stop this silly guise of wanting to "help." Seriously, if you hate it that much, just leave. Or maybe, just maybe, your part of that small percentage of the company who were bad hires and are basically unemployable elsewhere. In that case, enjoy the ride. Do something productive..."

Don't waste your time trying to convince him/her/it. They're so "passionate" about wanting to change the company that they refuse to stand behind their comments by being honest about who they are publicly. At least Scoble has the fortitude to post his opinions under his name, even if roughly half of it seems like self promotion vs. evangelizing his company's values and products. If you really felt that you were doing something for the benefit of the company and IF you felt that you weren't saying things in violation of your company's policies, you would add validity to your comments by allowing your compatriots to verify that you're a legitimate employee that's been with the company for a while and not a typical Internet troll. Even time spent at the company and the groups you believe you've added value to would make you seem more credible. I suspect you are given your obvious plethora of free time and closet opinions, but I could be wrong. It's happened at least twice before.

"Bu-bu-bu-bu-but I CARE! I WANT things to change! I'm NOT a malcontent! I'm NOT, I'm NOT, I'M NOT!"

All companies have issues - I'd welcome you to go work somewhere else and see that it's no different. I'd truly like to sympathize with your position, but the fact of the matter is that for every comment posted in support of your position, there's about 20 unposted from people that see you as someone who doesn't meet basic expectations of your job and are quietly ranting because you're unable to perform to standards - let alone exceed them.

If you really feel confident in your position, but still don't want to share your name or at LEAST why you think you're so innately qualified to suggest why Microsoft should change, you should really take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if you really *are* that confident, and why anonymity suits you vs. taking a stand and trying to rally people to your flag and become a legitimate identity.

I actually expect you to delete this, or try to argue some innane point as to why you're a great Crusader and that you have to protect yourself from persecution. Bock, bock.

Anonymous said...

"Don't waste your time trying to convince him/her/it. They're so "passionate" about wanting to change the company that they refuse to stand behind their comments by being honest about who they are publicly."

Wow. How could someone be so blatantly hypocritical as to post a comment like this anonymously?

If you actually read Mini's blog, it's pretty damn obvious he's a real MSFT employee, at least to anyone who actually works in a product group. As for his qualifications, well, the blog speaks for itself. If you don't like it, then cancel your subscription.

Anonymous said...

"Seriously, if you hate it that much, just leave."

Ah, the old love it or leave it argument. It sounds just as stupid in reference to Microsoft as it does in reference to the USA.

Seriously, if you hate Mini's blog that much, just unsubscribe.

Anonymous said...

I hear that at MGB Ballmer asked attendees to raise their hand and pledge not to use Google. He threatened to track down MS employees who use Google from work.

The man has clearly lost it. Why isn't he beating up on the search team to produce a decent search engine?

I'm pretty sure google employees can use whichever search engine they choose.

Anonymous said...

That "Bock Bock" above posted that whole rant against anonymity, then signed it "Anonymous" -- we'll that just makes my day.

Anonymous said...

That "Bock Bock" above posted that whole rant against anonymity, then signed it "Anonymous" -- we'll that just makes my day.

By Anonymous, at 9:32 AM

There's been one person who's actually subscribed and posted. The rest of us appear to just be lazy. At least that's my excuse.

Btw, it is "well", not "we'll". 2.5

smoi said...

"I hear that at MGB Ballmer asked attendees to raise their hand and pledge not to use Google. He threatened to track down MS employees who use Google from work."

Not strictly true. He asked how many people used google, and asked them to use our own product for 2 reasons. 1 - to help continually improve it, and 2 - because doing so contributes to a competitor's earnings, which as shareholders is not exactly an ideal scenario. I'm not going to post the estimated amount, but it was way more than I would have estimated.

The "threat" to track down google-users was a joke (at least that is how the audience took it). He actually said "some days I think I should find out who is using this stuff and talk to them to find out why". That's not verbatim, it's my take on what he said.

Anonymous said...

"All companies have issues - I'd welcome you to go work somewhere else and see that it's no different"

Well, apparently all other ones (combined) manage to somehow overcome their issues and still deliver bottom line results for their owners:

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?t=2y&s=MSFT&l=on&z=m&q=l&c=&c=%5EGSPC

BTW, that track record goes back another year but Yahoo lacks a 3 yr view. Net net, for those of you arguing that MSFT's problems are "no different than any other company" and therefore these folks should STFU, grab a fucking brain.

Anonymous said...

Not about Ballmer, but Gates. From Forbes.

http://www.forbes.com/afxnewslimited/feeds/afx/2005/06/29/afx2116149.html

"Japanese and US firms should not simply outsource work to foreign firms because doing so will cause a brain drain of their domestic workforces, Gates said.

'If you rely too much on the people in other countries and other companies, in a sense that's your brain and you are outsourcing your brain,' Gates said."

Does Ballmer not talk to Gates anymore?

Anonymous said...

>> some days I think I should find out
>> who is using this stuff and talk to
>> them to find out why

Because MSN Search has a shitty UI and delivers subpar search results perhaps? Because everyone's sick of the fucking butterfly? Because UI elements show up misaligned in Firefox?

Anonymous said...

The need to put someone in charge that actually has a vision about what search means. Ballmer is nothing but a cheerleader and he is letting Google lead him around by the nose.

Anonymous said...

To all the slave driven "engineers", devs and other geniuses who hate working at MSFT, Don't worry! Your high paying job will soon move to Bangalore. For the same price as your annual salary they will find up to 4 better educated and harder working people who will feel privileged to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week in your place, then you'll have all day to sit and bitch about how hard you used to have it. Sorry but it's true and it's happening now all across the US. Enjoy the free soda while it lasts!

Anonymous said...

To all the slave driven "engineers", devs and other geniuses who hate working at MSFT, Don't worry! Your high paying job will soon move to Bangalore.

What about those of us who like what we do, like working where we do, and like the free sodas, but don't like what India is doing to our job?

Anonymous said...

If you've ever managed an outsourced software project, you know they rarely succeed.

Problem is, Ballmer doesn't understand this (or much else about software design and engineering). Microsoft is not Proctor & Gamble. Producing software is not like producing shaving cream. As long as Steve is leading the company, MSFT and its employees are destined to learn this lesson the hard way.

Anonymous said...

Take the test and decide if it is worth it.

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/96/ open_boss-quiz.html

Anonymous said...

I sort of skim the executive mails these days.

During Ballmer's tenure, I've increasingly gotten the feeling that we're rudderless.

Ballmer needs to go.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't get it. Ballmer says he loves what he does. But does anyone else love what he's doing to the company? I mean, what is he doing?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft needs to bring in an Internet visionary

Somebody who actually understands what the heck end users of the Internet actually do

Gates is too busy
Ballmer can't type so I bet he hardly ever uses a computer

Somebody who understands that heavy graphical ads just have to go, I used to read MSNBC, but no more, the ads are too irritating and slow to download

The Internet is about finding the information the user wants as efficiently and fast as possible.

Google figured that out a long time ago.

A 20 something year old Internet visionary who would be given a lot of power to shake up the direction of the company. Someone in tune with the real world and intelligent enough to beat down the old execs ideas and motives.

Anonymous said...

I've just joined Microsoft after many years with IBM. I found a lot of the comments very interesting. They have obviously been written by Microsoft staff who have never worked anywhere else. Try working for a different large multi national IT company for a few years and then come back. If you still feel your comments are valid, then great. My sense, you won't...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I've just joined Microsoft after many years with IBM. I found a lot of the comments very interesting. They have obviously been written by Microsoft staff who have never worked anywhere else. Try working for a different large multi national IT company for a few years and then come back. If you still feel your comments are valid, then great. My sense, you won't...

7:35 PM


I'm a new hire who worked at another tech company since mid 1990's and I agree with the comments above.

Imagine receiving an email around the end of the year from your CEO that a few thousand of you have to be laid off and wonder whether it will be you this time. Or, watch helplessly as the company's stock price drop into the single digits. And talk about leadership, it seems that everytime someone shipped a product late, that person gets promoted to a director or VP. Also, imagine having to buy your own pop and paying for health insurance! It may not be perfect and maybe frustrating but there are defintely worse places out there.

Anonymous said...

"Alternatively, provide your own raise by investing in every main rival to MSFT's emerging businesses ('cause you know they're going to continue kicking MSFT's ass)"

Every quarter, I immediately sell the piddling stock "rewards" I receive and put the proceeds straight into Apple and Google stock. Why?

Because a quick eyeball check (see below) tells me that Microsoft stock has been statistically flat since Ballmer took over as CEO. (Of course, it has also been statistically flat since the day I joined the company. I *suppose* I could be the one holding the company back...)

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?t=2y&s=AAPL&l=on&z=m&q=l&c=msft%2Cgoog

Robin Battey said...

I actually wrote an article that touches on a lot of these things, a short while ago. It's one of the small number of things I've written that, when I go back and re-read it a month later, still sounds good. Anyway, I thought people might like the read, and I'd like some feedback on it.

Musings on the state of intellectual property, economics, and Microsoft

Anonymous said...

The amazing irony with Ballmer's rose and sunshine is that it goes directly against the "Stockdale Paradox" outlined in in "Good to Great", a book he claims is very influential to his management style.

http://www.jimcollins.com/lab/brutalFacts/

I don't see any brutal fact confrontation in Ballmer at all. He's been giving the same speech since he took over as CEO about how this next year is going to be the best year for MSFT, the next decade is all about technology X and Microsoft is poised to be the best.

Where's the brutal honestly? I mean even the president finally owned up to the FEMA train wreck, and you know it's bad when W is setting a better leadership example than your own CEO.

Anonymous said...

how many steveb buddies at MS have been given a simple slap on the wrist for blatant sexual harassement? You would be surprised at the answer, and who:)

Anonymous said...

I've been involved with Microsoft since 1988. They tried to head hunt me to sexually manipulate Bill Gates. I said no and that I thought was the end of it. A year later I was working as a contractor at Microsoft. The story is long, and my tangle with Gates, as a women with a similar intellect is bizarre at best.

Ballmer is an idiot. He can't read anything very complex at all. His deposition in the antitrust case was so bizarre it was scary. I was laughing so hard I had to post some of the best parts to my multimedia blog where I annotate with music, graphics and sometimes stories from Alice in Wonderland, because I feel like Alice and have definitely fallen through a hole.

Bill Gates is ill. I don't know what's wrong. He has lost a lot of weight very quickly. Perhaps he is just broken hearted. He hasn't had much control of the company since Jim Allchin came in with his Ph.D. Playing Puppet and dancing for the crowds to make it appear like someone is in control at Microsoft has taken it's toll on him. Sad. I think he is going to have to leave for health reasons.

The only thing that will save Microsoft is to see both Gates and Ballmer leave. Bob Herbold is back as an acting Executive VP. When Gates hired him, it was with the idea he would eventually become CEO. He has a technical background and a lot of experience in management. He isn't like a women with PMS the way Ballmer has always been. Things need to changes and until the old get out and leave a new and younger group in there to turn things around, the company will go into the toilet. This is what happened with the big studios in Hollywood. It will happen to Microsoft just as it did to IBM.

Bob Herbold for CEO of Microsoft!

Medievalist said...

The racism of developers is old hat (why don't people in India deserve jobs, anyway? Is is because they are brown, or because they aren't Christian, or what?) but that last post, with the "sexual manipulation of Bill Gates" thing, was REALLY WEIRD.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's because I live near Detroit and see the claim abused on a daily basis, but would you STOP with the BS racism comments? It's NOT racism. I really don't think you'd get a different response if the jobs were being outsourced to Norway. Or Canada. Or anywhere. People like to keep work at home and resent the idea of it being shipped off. Period. It's protectionism, not racism. Stop trivializing the word.

I do agree on the manipulation thing. Bizarre.

Anonymous said...

if the comments about manipulation seem wierd, do you think this link means anything? or just raises more questions?

link