Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Comment Repost - A New Hope, Part II

Comment re-posting time, for those not prone to reloading the site daily or so and delving into each and every comment. This comment came in to the post The "Should I come work for Microsoft?" Post. It got a ding for being a little rah-rah near the end, but it represents someone at the crossroads, deciding 'should I stay or go now?'


"Be more corporate" "Although you’ve heard it a million times before, here is my suggestion; trim the fat."

I'm in a somewhat similiar scenario myself, and naively thought the same way.

If you 'trim the fat', the people doing the trimming will be management. If your theory is that a chunk of the management in under qualified and hires syncophants, it's the syncophants (typically the fat) that will stay and the lean folks that will leave.

I have a strong track record of success, following a principle of 'do what's right for the company.' Following that principle, I've risen quickly in every organization I've been a part of.

In Redmond? Not so much.

If anyone else ran their business like this - without a $30 billion safety net - they'd be in bankruptcy without the ability to get funding. Our early success has provided a safety net for mediocracy.

There are groups where managers are going 'Rah! Rah! We rock!' building great perceptions when the reality for the people on the team is the exact opposite.

I'm reminded of the scene in Meet the Folkers where there's a trophy case full of sports trophies celebrating their son coming in 4th, 5th, and 7th place.

Personally, I'd prefer to spend less time patting myself on the back, and more time figuring out how to be #1. God knows we have the brainpower and the money to be #1, why celebrate mediocracy?

But does anyone say anything? Sure, but not to the people who should hear it. Everyone makes the comments to one another about it in hallway conversations and behind closed doors, but noone says anything to the people at the wheel of the ship.

Except, of course, the 1 or 2 poor bastards who try and say 'Seriously, this isn't working. Let's re-evaluate this.' We all know what happens to those folks.

Shunned like whores in Amish country.

This time of year, the politics are super apparent. How was your holiday party? Mine was something out of the American movies from the 80s where you have the school dance, and all of the individual cliques. You had your cool kids, your burnouts, your nerdy kids, etc. It was really kind of sad.

And the cliques are always there, the reason they're more pronounced is due to herding everyone into the same space.

The bottom line is that doing what's right for the company in many scenarios that it get's you branded as difficult and not a team player, to the point where you either give in to 'the system' or leave.

And what do we see? Alot of people leaving. With stock flat, average salaries and bad management, great people are leaving.

The interesting thing is that they're not abandoning the platform; they're not abandoning the vision, they're abandoning the company.

They're taking jobs at ISVs and in Enterprises that map to what their current roles are/were.

Think about it. This is an exciting time for us - new products, the ability to solve major business problems, we're ushering in the next era of computing. And these people have left. How fucked up is that?

These are people who love what they do, are great at what they do, but are frustrated because 'the system' is holding them back.

These are people with experience, who've seen the good and bad and are trying to make things work inside the company, only to be shut down or ostrecized because they're tampering with this hologram of false reality that's been established.

These are people who refuse to kiss ass or send gratuitous emails celebrating their own actions, and instead focus on making things happen.

And while everyone preaches that we need to be a lean, mean machine, you have to recognize that these losses are lost muscle not fat.

The people who have the luxury of thinking about leaving, are typically not the ones you don't want to leave.

But you know what, we have alot of money in the bank, and even if a good chunk of smart folks go, we've got enough to get by. While we won't be as successful as we could have been, we'll have some level of success (Windows 98 vs. Windows 95)

As a result, you build this self-perpetuating cycle of inadaquecy that only gets worse over time.

Now by all rights, I'm one of these guys and the question 'should I stay or should I go?' is one that enters my head far more often than I thought it ever would.

Does this mean that I don't love the company? Of course not. Does this mean I'm not incredibly passionate about the power of our software? Absolutely not. Does that mean I don't think Microsoft is going to change the industry? Nope.

Quite frankly, I challenge anyone who says they love the company more than I do. Seriously.

But you know what? I'm not one of those people who've only worked at Microsoft. I've worked elsewhere and know this style of management / human interaction is not the norm.

It's like any relationship. You can offer so much of yourself, but in reality the other party involved needs to make certain contributions. If they don't, you need to move on.

I know I can make just as much, if not more money elsewhere. That I'm at a level where I can have an almost equal level of freedom as I do today. You may say - 'But you won't have the level of impact'.

But in the world of Web 2.0, you have the ability to be incredibly agile with swift and painless distribution, and secure, reliable brokerage for people who want to pay you. The argument of impact is not what it once was.

Now people will challenge this and say 'My boss is great', 'My org is fantastic', etc. Having worked in different groups, I wholeheartedly recognize that this isn't an all or nothing type of thing. Everyone will agree, though, that the stink seems to be worst the closer you get to 98052.

The people I've met in the field organizations have the reality of customers day-to-day problems. They have quotas, milestones, measurable metrics - they may work the hell out of you, but I think the system there is more honest.

We joke that Redmond is surrounded by a bubble and reality is on the other side. There seems to be a bloated sense of self-importance or arrogance from being abstracted away from customers by both several layers of field and management.

Despite all this, I'd answer the question 'Should I work for Microsoft?' with a Yes.

Why? Two words: Kevin Johnson.

One of the encouraging things is the recent appointment of Kevin to his new role.

If you've seen Kevin speak, you've surely heard his talk about a resignation letter. At the end of reading it, he shares that it's his resignation letter from IBM.

There are definately some parallels between the issues that caused him to leave IBM to those we're seeing today.

He knows the field, he knows sales, he knows services, and he's buit his reputation being successful with customers.

Is he the scream and yell and get you all pumped up Steveb? No. But I don't think that's necessarily what we need at this point in the company's life. We're beyond that now. We need someone running the business, not running around on stage.

I don't expect major changes, but I'm willing to bet in a year, maybe a year and a half we'll see some decent changes kick in.

Kevin Johnson possesses the strengths we need. And as he seems to be on the fast track to the SteveB slot, I think I'm going to stick around.

Now, will I leave or stay in my current group? Magic 8 ball says 'Too Soon To Tell.'


48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who is this guy? I don't remember telling you my life history at MS. This is scary - everything I have gone through in MS.

These are people who refuse to kiss ass or send gratuitous emails celebrating their own actions, and instead focus on making things happen.

You must be a psychic. Next time you are around Windows Sustained Engineering Bldg 28, please drop by. I am dying to know how you discovered the story of my life

Anonymous said...

"Next time you are around Windows Sustained Engineering Bldg 28, please drop by"


WinSE....HaHaHaHaHa..........
We all know your sad story!!!!
My sympathies are with you.....

Anonymous said...

Guys, gals - you cannot leave, you are the reason I do not sell my MSFT stock! We need to get just one of you into a position of sufficient authority and influence to help trigger the de-freezing of the way things are and transform Microsoft into what it can yet be. Patience and persevarance is what is needed now - focus your energy on getting onto the right role and conveying the message to the right top leaders. The game of what companies will contribute to next computing revolution is not over, not by a long shot. MSFT has tremendous potential; the move to ally with SAP is potentially brilliant if you execute well on that vision. Right now Google and Apple and a few others are giving you a run for your money - you need a second or third wind but you can still make it. My 2 cents. For what it is worth I am an IS exec in a Fortune 100 company - and even though I often feel the pain of that mediccracy - many of us still believe in your future.

Anonymous said...

The story of my MSFT life too. Only I chose to call it quits and leave it behind a couple of months ago.

I thought it over and decided that my life is simply to short for the kind of BS that was and is pumping in the veins of the corporate beast. It was all about politics, procedures, little kingdoms and how to nuke eachother - and very little about actual execution for the good of the customers, partners and ultimately MSFT itself.

I was and still am very passionate about a lot of the great stuff that MSFT does and has the potential to do. I would have loved nothing more but to stay on and be a part of it. However I thought that before I got to the point of really seing the fruits of my dedicated efforts (and others like me), I would have died of a heart attach or an ulcer. Somehow it just wasn't worth it.

I spent the last period of my employment with MBS, and that just summed it up and made it very real for me (so in many ways, thanks for illuminating that it was time to find greener pastures). Man, talk of a place that needs a very serious shake-up. I have never seen so many people and teams trying to f*** it up for each other. SAP and Oracle aren't the biggest challenges this unit faces - they are their own worst enemy, and until they get it sorted internally, MBS will never fulfill the potential, which is there. I am amazed that noone has done anything about it. Hopefully someone will, now that Doug Burgum has stepped down.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't see this meeting between Mr. WinSE and Mini happening at all. Both are anonymous parties and bldg. 28 has 100s of people working in it.

Microsophist said...

I am dying to know how you discovered the story of my life.

This is the story of everyone at Microsoft whose talents are weighted towards engineering rather than politics. I can't tell you how many coworkers confided this same story to me once they learned I was leaving the company.

What's sad is how many people keep coming back to Redmond each day, like so many battered wives returning to their abusive husbands. The rationalizations they give - loyalty, love, Kevin Johnson (?) - are heart-breaking. What really keeps them there is fear.

Ask yourself, what would you do if you weren't afraid? And then do it. You'll have no regrets.

Anonymous said...

you think you can find an ounce of "fat" on me (and yes, I am a current FTE)?

I would laugh, but it might burn too many calories; workwise, I am a bloody skeleton already.

Best of luck to the next gen -- I quit.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you about kevinjo. He totally "gets it," and given the time and the leverage I think he can and will do something. He was the exec sponsor of the account (one of MSFT's largest) that I managed for many years and he was such a breath of fresh air. Mini, thanks again for having the courage of your convictions. Talk to you in '06. "A Fan in Sales"

Anonymous said...

[i]These are people who refuse to kiss ass or send gratuitous emails celebrating their own actions, and instead focus on making things happen.[/i]


Sounds like me too. Maybe that's why my reviews suck so bad. I concentrate on doing my job, not kissing my bosses asses.

The Nog said...

We need to get just one of you into a position of sufficient authority and influence to help trigger the de-freezing of the way things are and transform Microsoft into what it can yet be.

To change Microsoft requires public pressure on top level management, which is why this blog is so great. The message here needs to be repeated and repeated and blasted to the public. Remember what happened with Eisner and Disney.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, let's replace one sales guy (Ballmer) with another sales guy (Johnson). If you think this will improve the lives of regular engineering ICs (aka people who write the stuff this company makes billions in profits on), you're either a sales guy yourself or you aren't very smart.

Anonymous said...

If you 'trim the fat', the people doing the trimming will be management. If your theory is that a chunk of the management in under qualified and hires syncophants, it's the syncophants (typically the fat) that will stay and the lean folks that will leave.

Ayup. Ever heard of Slack, by Tom DeMarco? This is his main thrust: when you cut the slack and get everyone up to 100% efficiency, you end up without the ability to change your processes or to focus on the big questions. The more time you spend on being efficient (doing the same thing faster) the less time you have to focus on being effective (doing the right things).

The people who should be making changes, who should be making an organization effective, are often the middle management that got trimmed as "fat".

My perspective? I'm a former msftie myself. I left because I was tired. I wanted to do something besides work all the time. And since some idiot gave me stock options in 93, I could. (Nope, not a millionaire. Just white trash with cash :)

Anonymous said...

...not abandoning platform or vision...
In fact, I do not see any "vision". The only vision is that we can sell whatever we make. Slow? Take faster hardware. Fat? More memory. Expensive? This is not that stupid moon mission, you know, we are spending billions on testing.

And about abandoning platform - they do! .NET already makes people exiting. The main goal of .NET is to make development cheaper and faster, cutting expenses. This means mostly that MS can hire less-experienced programmers for less. And these students will just redo the project from zero on C# instead of reading and fixing old C++ code (reading code skills are too expensive), repeating all bugs and design mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Just watch "Office space" again. I did it recently and I was surprized. Almost the same facts (without "virus", though).

Anonymous said...

There are ay to many comments here that sounds way to familiar.

I remember when I came to MSFT. I was brought in for my expertise in a specific field that MSFT was very interested in learning. They were starting a group and I was going to assist in making MSFT #1 in the field. Then I had to fight on every little thing that needed to be done. I was told over and over again that we have an MSFT way of doing things that has worked in all these other areas, and that it has been a tried and proven way to get things accomplished. No matter how I stated yes, that will get things done, but this way is more efficient, and has these bonuses, I was told you really need to learn how we do things here. There was no interest in learning, or becoming an expert in this field. Why hire me? They already had all their answers. It was rediculous. I realized they weren't thrilled, when I got my review. I received a score below what I thought I deserved, and what was basically explained to me as barely acceptable for our group. I received a 3.5. My manager said it was borderline with a 3.0, but since I was new he was being kind. I guess after about a year of that I left. I actually wasn't upset. The working environment is better elsewhere. More money, better hours, not quite the same benefits package, but it seems other companies are open minded to suggestions, and are willing to listen to why recommendations for improvement could work.

Anonymous said...

"Hopefully someone will, now that Doug Burgum has stepped down."

Actually, in the upside-down Alice in Wonderland world that is MSFT accountability, his failed results were rewarded with a step up.

Anonymous said...

Can you say "A Cruel Irony?":

http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/management/leadership_training/3_signs_of_a_dysfunctional_company.mspx

Anonymous said...

"And these people have left. How fucked up is that? These are people who love what they do, are great at what they do, but are frustrated because 'the system' is holding them back"

Sorry, but what did you expect from a corporation that has been declared a Monopoly? Did you expect to find a "system" that is open and flexible, willing to listen, change, and do the "right" thing?

It sounds like some of the bad characteristics and behavior that Microsoft has exibited outward towards competitors has now starting to seep inward towards its own employees, and is now "holding them back" as well.

Thats the thing about monopolies and bullies, sometimes they turn on their own friends.

Anonymous said...

26.73 -0.13

Very appropriate post on a day when MSFT goes back to negative for the entire year. I guess the market as a whole must just be missing all those great things that Ballmer keeps telling us MSFT is right on the cusp of delivering? And so another year goes by with shareholders again poorer for holding this stock, average employees again seeing no upside despite long hours expended but management having gorged on another $5B+ of shareholder money via sold grants and exercised options while telling everyone else to "stay the course". Ridiculous. Where's MSFT's Ichan?

Anonymous said...

"I don't expect major changes, but I'm willing to bet in a year, maybe a year and a half we'll see some decent changes kick in."

Look at history. This management team will not change until change is thrust upon them. Destroying the most shareholder value in corporate history and badly underperforming the market for three years hasn't done it. Losing major share in historically dominant areas hasn't done it. Getting a regular butt kicking in virtually all emerging areas such that MSFT looks like the Coyote to competitors Road Runner hasn't done it. Seeing core products move to 5 year gestations periods while others ship two or more versions hasn't done it. Daily negative news stories and articles haven't done it. In other words, it's likely going to take a MAJOR crisis and imo, that will be a badly missed series of Q's and/or a total further meltdown of the stock. It's a real shame. Employees, partners, customers, shareholders are all going to get badly hurt. Meanwhile, the folks most responsible for failure will simply walk away rich.

Anonymous said...

Agree with what Mini said.... however, as long as the "fat" exists in between KJ and us, this BS will continue.. So should I leave or not? I'm on a borderline of jumping the ship weeping... :(

Anonymous said...

the fascinating aspect of microsoft execs is that they are virtually indistinguishable from one another once they open their mouths ...

I've been focused on learning the business ... we have a strong management team ... I'm confident of my team's ability to execute ... I see a great synergy ... our plans for the business going forward ... our organizational structure enables us to ... I will remain very involved in the strategy ...

(all this from an exec's single response to an interview question asked in a recent publication. can you guess the exec's name? No. And if I showed him the total comment he likely wouldn't even have remembered making it. Verbiage like the above is designed to make the world think the Microsoft train is on track. In the end its just words.)

Anonymous said...

Here's an example of how bad management from a few years ago has cost the company dearly today.

A former director of Windows localization in Dublin has been awarded EUR 200,000 for 'constructive dismissal', i.e. that her employer's conduct forced her to resign. MS will probably have to pay some of her costs too.

See http://www.rte.ie/business/2005/1221/microsoft.html and http://www.finfacts.com/irelandbusinessnews/publish/article_10004334.shtml.

People on the ground at the time she was in charge will tell you that she was never on site, never spoke to her group and never had any input into day to day work. Newspaper pictures about the court case was the first time many employees saw what she looked like. We all knew she was the boss but did nothing except send the odd email giving us an extra day or half-day off around public holidays. Spotting her Merc sportscar in the carpark was an infrequent surprise and rumor had it that she lived as much as possible outside Ireland so that she could qualify exempt for income tax purposes.
In essence the ship was steering itself and she was reaping the benefits. 13 million euros in stock alone. Many of us are still looking at a zero or worse bottom line on the stock option front after years of hard work.

This has cost Microsoft because her direct manager (Redmond-based) was giving her excellent review scores, 4.0+, even though she was useless. The fact is the work coming from her group was excellent. High quality, on time and within budget. When she was dumped she could point to her review record and say 'here's the proof I was doing a good job, I was treated badly'.
Redmond should be thankful she never took up a post there.

(most of the above came from the court case, I ain't making it up)

Anonymous said...

26.73 -0.13 ........ I guess the market as a whole must just be missing all those great things that Ballmer keeps telling us MSFT is right on the cusp of delivering?

I know you were being sarcastic and you have every right of being that way. No one cares about what you have done or what you will do or what you will deliver. Those are just words that people spout out. People want to know and care about the here and now. What are you doing now and what are you delivering now. Lets face it, I could easily say I am going to deliver a world class piece of software next year as well. Will they care about what I say I will deliver, Absolutely not. Will it be done, absolutely not. However, when next year comes around and some miracle occurs and I actually deliver it, then everyone will take notice. My point is, no one will care until Longhorn/Vista is delivered. And another point. Delivery does not mean anything either if the product sucks. I guess alot of people are still wondering, what is so GREAT about Vista.

Mighty Redmond needs to take a page from its competitors book (mainly Apple). Don't talk about the product too much, Make and finish it, talk about it and then deliver it Not talk about it, market it, talk more about it, delay it and then deliver it with lots of bugs to make a deadline that was already delayed several times already.

What is so revolutionary about Vista anyway besides minor comestic changes ? Why should I go out and spend my $250-whatever on it ?

Anonymous said...

This has cost Microsoft because her direct manager (Redmond-based) was giving her excellent review scores, 4.0+, even though she was useless.

If you're above level 62, you get an automatic 4.0 (based on the idea that to get to that level, you must be real good). So that director can't really point to the review as proof of being useful.

Anonymous said...

I was reading the post and getting into it until I saw the phrase "Web 2.0" and then I stopped being able to take the content seriously.

I'm seriously messed up :)

PS: The problem with Microsoft is that there are too many whiners like this guy. If things are so bad and its so obvious to everyone then call it out to the folks that run stuff. If they retaliate instead of welcoming the constructive feedback then leave. Is it really that hard to find a job slinging buggy code in some other part of the b0rg cube?

PPS: I find it amusing that our "salvation" is supposed to come from a Sales guy taking over the technical divisions. I guess the saying is true that engineers make bad managers.

-- Dare

Who da'Punk said...

If you're above level 62, you get an automatic 4.0 (based on the idea that to get to that level, you must be real good). So that director can't really point to the review as proof of being useful.

I just have to call out from personal experience that, while that would be nice, reality doesn't match that. I have received less than 4.0. As a manager I have to meet the curve, even with 62+ reports, and they, too, have received less than 4.0. Sometimes way less.

Anonymous said...

"Mighty Redmond needs to take a page from its competitors book (mainly Apple). Don't talk about the product too much, Make and finish it, talk about it and then deliver it Not talk about it, market it, talk more about it, delay it and then deliver it with lots of bugs to make a deadline that was already delayed several times already."

Glad my sarcasm wasn't missed :-) Agree with the above. Kind of Bus 001 though - which makes it's novelty at MSFT concerning. BTW, hope you're wrong about Vista not being great. If you're right, MSFT is done.

Anonymous said...

"PPS: I find it amusing that our "salvation" is supposed to come from a Sales guy taking over the technical divisions. I guess the saying is true that engineers make bad managers."

Could they do any worse than the current folks who take 5 years to release a new version of SQL, 2+ years to release a new version of CRM or are 3 years late delivering Vista?

Anonymous said...

I too have received less than a 4.0 and am above a 62. I also have reports that are 62 and above, and they too don't necessarily get a 4.0 or above. In the last review process, several of them have received 3.0 and 3.5. I had only one though that received a 2.5. I also only had one that received a 4.5 and no 4.0s. I have never seen a 5.0 ever.

I wish it were true though for me. ;)

Anonymous said...

The problem with Microsoft is that there are too many whiners like this guy. If things are so bad and its so obvious to everyone then call it out to the folks that run stuff.

From my past readings of your material, you're rarely this casually dismissive, so I was a bit taken back by your comments.

You casually shrug off the messenger as being "whiny". I wrote that post and I'm one of the shunned at the moment, so I am making the statements and making waves.

The challenge is, I'm at a blocking point - hence the long post to this very vocal blog. Alot of people identified with it - which adds more credence to the comments made in my immediate circle.

The message was intential and substantiating efforts elsewhere.

I was reading the post and getting into it until I saw the phrase "Web 2.0" and then I stopped being able to take the content seriously.
I've seen that you've got visibility for your blog, but it looks like we don't travel in the same circles/orgs.

The phrase and concept of "Web 2.0" is repeatedly heavily when looking forward to platform competition. Obviously this is not so in your part of the org... yet.
I'm assuming you've got a more 'now' role vs. a 'futures' role.

Good, bad, or indifferent - Web 2.0 will be a part of your regular lexicon soon.

Is it really that hard to find a job slinging buggy code in some other part of the b0rg cube?

You assume I'm a coder or in some entry level slot. You know what you say when you assume. This is an issue that is widespread, across areas of key competency (technical and non).

I haven't left because I've made an investment in the company, and I'm not ready to flush that investment yet. I'm more Icahn than Chicken Little.

I find it amusing that our "salvation" is supposed to come from a Sales guy taking over the technical divisions. I guess the saying is true that engineers make bad managers.

Your oversimplification of a sales guy leading a technical business being a dumb idea is in itself a bit ridiculous.

Gates and Rudder will drive the technical direction, Johnson will enforce accountability, drive business relationships (ever more important in a world where we've got a combination of co-opetition, mergers, non-traditional adversaries (Google), and partners building their own platforms (SAP's Netweaver).

To compete with IBM, you need someone who understands the services business (theirs and ours) and has had significant face time with major customers to understand what people really want. As head of Services and Sales, he's been well positioned to contribute from this area.

When you look at what he's been doing, and look and think about the new competitive landscape for the company, you'll see he's absolutely the best choice to lead the group.

While I know it's fun for technical folk to bash the sales guys (and I'm sure the same holds true in the other direction), if you step back and look broadly at what the business needs, you'll agree with me.

And if you don't, I'd challenge you to offer a better choice.

Anonymous said...

Yet another glowing article on MSFT:

Microsoft is losing some of its elbow room

You've gotta love the MSFT spokesperson's response. I guess the "liar, liar, pants on fire" defense wasn't available.

Anonymous said...

If you're above level 62, you get an automatic 4.0 (based on the idea that to get to that level, you must be real good). So that director can't really point to the review as proof of being useful.

This is not even true at lvl 65-67. There is a curve there as well although slightly (only slightly) less 3.0 are required.

It would be interesting to know if they same is true for lvl 68+ (partner levels). From rumors, I've heard the 3.0 percentage required is about 10% and I have seen and heard of people being kicked out of that level. Also, from rumors and speculation, it seems like that level is limited to be about the size of 1% of the company.

Anonymous said...

When you look at what he's been doing, and look and think about the new competitive landscape for the company, you'll see he's absolutely the best choice to lead the group.

Microsoft's 'Get the Facts' campaign seems to be what he's doing.

With a straight face, can you tell me that they are facts?

Anonymous said...

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10564939/

Microsoft's software must operate "live" and online, Gates announced, to engage users in today's always-connected world. Gates and the company's chief technology officer, Raymond Ozzie, outlined how the coming versions of Windows and its Office suite would incorporate online components such as instant messaging, mobile telephony and search.

Didn't Microsoft used to make fun of Sun Microsystems for saying "The network is the computer."?

Anonymous said...

I have been reading this for a while, and I think you have the problem defined incorrectly.

It isn't the fat that you want to cut, at least not right now. Fat isn't actively dangerous. Fat doesn't hide to avoid detection. Fat is easy to get rid of.

The politics that you and we have been describing here isn't fat, it is cancer.

Anonymous said...

I've often described that working at Microsoft is what it must be like being married to a celebrity when you're a nobody. It's awe inspiring at first and you can't wait to tell anyone and everyone. Hi, I'm john doe and I work for MICROSOFT!! Now, let me interject here that I'm not in Redmond where every other person is msft but in the field...ah yes...the field aka anywhere in the US that's not Redmond. I still love to watch peoples' reactions when I tell them I work at msft...some have even laughed thinking I was kidding. I don't care who you are, somewhere deep inside you, you like that sexy feeling of being a little famous...awe inspiring...envied and yes,sometimes hated and cursed but it doesn't matter. But I digress, let's get back to my celebrity analogy. No matter how bad things get at work, there is always this underlying voice that whispers or sometimes screams that HELLLOOOOO, you work for Microsoft buddy, Microsoft. There is no one that you encounter anywhere that doesn't know who Microsoft is...no one. Let's go back in time and imagine how Priscilla Presley felt when she first started thinking about divorcing Elvis...THE KING. I choose this older reference because these days, no one I can think of could compare to the magnitude. As bad as things would get, he was Elvis. She loved him, admired him and gave him everything she had. She would make excuses for his bad behavior. My God, he was Elvis. And she was Elvis' wife. Do you see where I'm going here? This is Microsoft...Microsoft! There is an appeal with most employees whether they want to admit it or not, that keeps them coming back for more. Like a drug. It's Microsoft. Not only is it just so cool to be a part of it, we really BELIEVE the magic..some maybe a little less than others but mostly we still have those stars in our eyes. We believe that we've "arrived" because we're here and we want so badly to believe we can regain the magic of the good ole days.
Mini, I too hope that KJ will help turn things around. I have faith in him, afterall, he did come to Redmond via Texas, right? I hear they have some great msft people down there! :-)

Anonymous said...

Seriously! These are exactly the kind of things we went through while at WinSE - Its Widnows Serviciability now ;)

Surprised to find that its just not WinSE-ites who feel the same way.

Anonymous said...

" There are groups where managers are going 'Rah! Rah! We rock!' building great perceptions when the reality for the people on the team is the exact opposite.

I'm reminded of the scene in Meet the Folkers where there's a trophy case full of sports trophies celebrating their son coming in 4th, 5th, and 7th place. "


Especiallly true of WinSE . WinSE is place where the only thing you are told to do is Market yourself .

No one values if a tough bug is solved. Its the quantity that matters and not the quality. The manager and the hierarchy thereafter cannot really understand the details of an issue. Thankfully, since all of them have some exposure to basic maths , they can very well understand -- Numbers & ONLY numbers

And that is what they look for.

Your manager just needs some stupid tools (with a nice presentable UI) which in no way helps MSFT do a better job. But that can be presented to the higher-ups so that we get that all-too-familiar-mail from an higher-up saying - " You guys ROCK ! Great going" ...

Well, i can go on forever bitching about WinSE , but i think i should stop.

Anonymous said...

Anyone have any insights into working in the MSN Ads group (Adcenter and Display ads)? Also any thoughts on the Service Operations Planner role and function?

Anonymous said...

Having the brainpower and the money to be #1 doesn't really matter, if a company's senior management is as dysfunctional as Microsoft's. MS, like IBM before it, has wasted more money and talent than nearly any other company every has available to it.

I've said it before, and it's still true: MS will continue to have one train wreck after another, until and unless the company has a near-death experience and is forced to shed the top four or five layers of its org chart. Can you do it soon enough, like Apple? Or will you fail like SGI? Either way, it will be an interesting story to watch.

Anonymous said...

Good to see that I am not the only one who hated my job. I used to work at WinSE too. I say "hated" in past sense because I have already quit.

I felt there is no point wasting time in a place that I did not enjoy working at. I believed doing quality work rather than just fixing bugs for numbers. Too bad the management never realized that. In fact during the reviews they acted as though they realized that and used it against some people (who had fixed a huge number of bugs but also very complex ones) just because they would not kiss their manager's ass (actually I believe it was because the manager felt insecure).

In retrospect it was a big mistake on my part to have joined winse in the first place. I was happy and loved my job back in previous company (it is as good a brand as MSFT is). I just joined because they told me I would get to work on windows and I was excited to do be doing cool systems stuff, debugging stuff, catching those complex problems. I looked at is as a challenge. I came in for the pleasure of working on some cool stuff, but when I joined WinSE I realized that the whole thing sucked.

None of the managers knew a thing. All that people did was send out mails - to "core" devs and send mails like "we fixed 100 bugs - congrats to us". There would be about 6 templates to fill before you checked in your 1 line fix (which you often didnt exactly know how it fitted in the big picture). Hilarious!

Too bad people have to ruin their lives doing such a job. In the end in spite of putting up with all the shit and going through pains to do a better job my manager would never realize what I went through. In fact he was so dumb he did not know what binaries one of his direct reports was responsible for. :)

I do love MSFT. I still read this blog only because of my love for the company but a few teams (WinSE being one of them) is just not being managed properly. There are incompetent managers who have never been into fixing bugs themselves and have no idea what it takes.

I am happy in my new place and I am glad I quit!

Anonymous said...

Can people below 62 get a 4.5? I was told by my manager that he has not seen/heard of anybody get a 4.5 and so does not know what it takes to get it. I asked him to contact the HR and find out more about it but he was adamant and said that he could not consider me for a 4.5 simply because he did not think 4.5 is possible for anybody! :)

Now that is some logic!

Anonymous said...

Can people below 62 get a 4.5?

I know of an instance.

This was a new team , with all the PMs, SDETs and SDEs reporting to one man. No leads, no managers , only some tech leads.

One 59 level guy (he should not have been hired at 59 in the first place) showed great visibility and worked hard for it. He got a 4.5 and upped his level to 60 in 8 months.

Anonymous said...

4.5 is possible. You need to do the work of 10 men (or women) or do something truly astonishing.

I know people who have one 4.5 in 10 years and one guy who got it in his first year.

I'd say a 4.5 is typically more reachable if you're single. If you don't do the 'astonishing', the amount of work required is challenging in the work/life balance scheme of things.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes one of the reasons that people are in the office at 4am isn't because they're working on the code. Sometimes it's because they're single, bored and they've nowhere else to go. Maybe they into the office for the solitude, free soda and the chance to surf the web or play games on their work machine. Or maybe they're in a relationship and they want space away from home. Maybe the closed office at Microsoft gives them the sanctuary they're missing.

It isn't necessarily work. I see a huge number of non-work related web sites and applications on people's desktops.

Anonymous said...

If you are on the fence and don't know whether to leave, please go to one of lisab's Listening Tour sessions or check out her sharepoint when she gets it up.

She, like Kevin, really gets it. She's why I'm staying. Well, that and I love my job.

PS A HR person who did a talk last year about reviews said that there are about 10 5's given each year and many 4.5's.

Anonymous said...

I am with you, Lisa's plan and her action is really make Microsoft is a good place for me to stay (longer).
Hopefully this plan will reduce the politic within the team. This thing is killing me. People got promoted by doing presentation and driving team wide (means ..sending mail and attend some meeting) because they are considered visibility!
What about the quality of the product!