Sunday, December 18, 2005

Post-Break - Dividend, The Bench, Brummel, and Scoble

Time for a Post-Break. I don't mean taking a break from posting but rather putting up a post just to serve as a blog section-break given the heavy stream of incoming comments. I'm soon going to repost some of the more interesting comments that have come up as part of rounding out the year (I have some quality airport time to look forward to, so re-reading all the recent comments and copy-pasting-commentary is just ideal).

Random notes for the past week:

Dividend: people with a dry sense of humor note that Microsoft boldly raised its dividend by an aggressive 12.5%. I'm curious about our leadership's thinking around the dividend. After the financial analysts meeting, one of the most directed piece of feedback Microsoft received to increase the stock price was to aggressively increase the dividend and commit to sustaining it at a comparable level. Eight cents is not aggressive. A penny increase is not aggressive. Both, in light of the feedback, are rather insulting.

The short-term effect of the Sunshineville product pipeline certainly hasn't been felt yet. How about seriously reconsidering the dividend?

Google and AOL: I like the imagery of Eric E. Schmidt, after the Time Warner deal was done and he had a moment for quite reflection with a nice drink and an evening skyline before him, taking a sip and thinking, 'Oh, no, Mr. Ballmer. I'm going to effin' kill you.' So, nice negotiating props to Google. I guess they won this round. Maybe we just convinced them to punch the tar-baby with a fist-full of a billion dollars.

The Bench and Other Programs: good information continues to come in clarifying some of the murkier aspects of compensation / career programs at Microsoft. This comment rounds things up well:

Blue Chip is not that big of a deal - it's a campus potential hire that is deemed by a recruiter to be in the top {small number}% of all campus hires that year. Therefore more attention will be paid to trying to get that person to join.

For partners, if you look at the career stage profiles that were rolled out last year you will see the top in each stage called partner, and it says L68+. The compensation is a bit of a mystery but what I do know is that partner compensation is dependent on the company-wide CPE metrics that you sometimes hear about. Meaning that partners' compensation (probably mostly stock awards based on the SEC filings) varies per year, based on how much the company makes, how satisfied the customers are, etc.

Bench is a leadership training program. You're right that it's the people who could take over as VPs but that's long term. There are two benches: normal bench for <68 and partner bench for >=68. That is what they call the "corporate bench". There are also per-team/division bench programs, which allow these types of programs to reach down to lower level people (you generally have to be 66-67 to get into the corporate bench). I know of several of these programs, in different divisions. If you want to be a VP some day, you should ask your manager if yours has such a program and when you can get into it.

and this comment:

the bench - this is the set of partners who can take over vp job...

Not exactly. This iteration of the bench program (which I believe is the 3rd since I've been in HR?!) actually has two tracks: one for partners aka "Partner Bench" and one for lower folks aka "Member Bench". The idea is that people chosen for Partner bench are on track to make VP and generally already level 68+ ("E" potential). Member bench is the same thing for people on track to be partners ("P" potential).

But don't tell ANYONE! If employees knew about this, managers would have the tough duty to actually manage and explain to their people why they aren't in the Bench and *gasp* give them feedback on how they could get there or *gasp**gasp* that they never could.

What commenters are up in arms about is the financial rewards the partners / VPs are reaping and the big disconnect between well-compensated partners / VPs and those below who get great ratings but barely meet cost-of-living increases. On the shallow surface, it appears as an unbalanced money grab. How about visibility into what these people do day-to-day to earn their rewards, in comparison?

Ms. Brummel's Listening Tour: from what I've heard and been told, if you can make any meeting this year or next year, make this meeting. I look forward to it myself. Really. You can find the schedule off of Micronews in case she's already visited your part of campus and you want to play catch up. The kind of changes being discussed are big, really big - and the kind I support and don't want to spoil and chatter about here (I'd rather shine a light on the problems in public and nurture great changes in private). I know: there's talk, and then there's well implemented action.

To implement big change, though, I don't think you can do it in a staged or incremental fashion. For instance, the whole multi-year staged company values thing is a bit of a flop. Nice to have and all, but as covered in one of those secrets in Ms. Shapiro's book, people realized that they are not truly compensated, promoted, or recognized for excelling at the company values so the values receive important lip service and their every mention turns into an exercise in eye muscle control: "do not roll eyes! do not roll eyes!"

No, such change need to be swift and disruptive.

Mr. Scoble: Robert Scoble is alright in my book. I'm grateful for every mention, as I am with Dare, Mr. Barr, and the rare occasional Don Box (excuse my inner-dev swooning). Folks in Ireland read Mini? Hello! Anyway, Scoble is a self-mounted lightning rod who takes a lot of incoming flak and crap and I think, mostly, except for those pre-coffee mornings, excels at dealing with that level of self-inflicted attention very well. I've taken lessons from him and other high-profile bloggers. I see Scoble as one of those Tom Peter-fused change agents, where the change is amoral. Good? Bad? No, just change. I'm glad he's working for Microsoft.

52 comments:

td said...

I'm glad to see Google kicking Microsoft's ass. Come on mini, you've got to rally the troops or the day is done. Premature? Software is not oil and the whole nature of the game is 1000 times more volatile than anything that has been seen in the history of business thus far. Microsoft has beaten the odds by copying and cutthroat business practises. But it has never been an innovator. This has all been said before, but there was no Google in the past. There are no babies to knife this time.

I hope microsoft rallies because I only want to enjoy the fruits of intense competition. The gloves are off. But I know which side has the smarter leaders.

Gates is man of the year, but what has he ever done that's worth a turd as a computer scientist? Brin and Page are ten times smarter than Gates and Schmidt is better than Balmer. What really, really top computer scientists would want to work for microsoft- it's like working for Standard Oil. Good luck boys!

td

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you ask what Gates has done for computer science. His pet projects are so nerdy and computer science-y that they are not of any practical value--tablet PCs (without keyboards), artifically intelligent houses, interactive TV, etc. Innovative? Sort of. Of any practical value? I doubt it.

Anonymous said...

"The kind of changes being discussed are big, really big - and the kind I support and don't want to spoil and chatter about here (I'd rather shine a light on the problems in public and nurture great changes in private). "

As long as it addresses the mis-use of stack ranking to hurt someones career score would be valuable.

Anonymous said...

Hey, TD,

Just because google won the fight against AOL doesnt mean jack. They already had a relationship with AOL, whereby $300M+ of their ad-revenue was coming from AOL. They had to protect that. So they ponied up $1B for it. Whether it will buy them anything by way of competetive advantage remains to be seen.

So, Bill is not a computer scientist - he is a businessman. Sergei & Larry may be brillian as computer scientisst, and good for them! Ultimately it doesnt matter who is the better computer scientist- for besides the original page ranking algorithm, I dont think larry & sergei are contributing much by way of "computer science", and neither is bill gates for that matter. They are all businessmen now. What matters is whether both companies can get smart people to work for them.

As to what computer scientist would want to work for microsoft - go to the microsoft.com research website and check there. You will find quite a few turing award winners, as well as other wellknown names.

And finally, it doesnt have to be that for google to win, microsoft has to lose and vice versa. It could be that both could thrive at their respective businesses. Ultimately the competition will be good for consumers.

Let the best man win. personally my bets are on microsoft, but yours might be elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

How many groups had their Christmas, err I mean holiday parties cut this year? Nice to see Microsoft pony up a few bucks to treat their employees and spouses to a end of year "thank you", guess that only applies if you work in Windows or Office.... It is amazing how many companies from 25 people to 50,000 people still manage to have holiday parties year after year, but not at MS.

Anonymous said...

The comment from above about Holiday parties "guess that only applies if you work in Windows or Office" along with the ones about the parking spot being indicators of morale show how exactly how out of touch, ignorant and pessimistic the average 'insider' poster is in Mini. Dude! SQL Server took their whole group to Whistler! Each VP under Bob Mu in Windows Server had their OWN parties in Bellevue and Seattle's coolest hotels like Hyatt/Westin/etc. XBox had a gala party of it's own as did Visual Studio and Mobile. Just because you did not get the invites and don't talk or know anyone from those beside your own little group does not mean that no one else is having Holiday parties. And guess what? I attended most of the above and all were far better than the COSD one in Bellaroya.

My advise to you is - stop posting things that you don't know and stop giving an impression of MSFT that is utterly false.

Anonymous said...

oh btw. tell me how many companies have parties the size of WIM or WSD unwinders every other Friday, a massive, whole-day company picnic with unlimited number of guests followed by other smaller picnics for each group, huge all-day all-hands meetings for the company as a whole as well for the P&Ls? Very few companies from 25 to 50,000 ppl.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I stand corrected. I've talked with a couple of people outside my division and I thought they’re parties were being cut or severely neutered. However, it sounds like there is a fairly big schism between some divisions and how they spend money on their employees. I can’t think of the last time we have a morale event that didn’t involve MS paying for lunch in the CafĂ©. It would seem that if groups aren't generally equitable across the company, what's prevent good or above-average people from moving to the "good" groups and leaving the other products/divisions with mediocre or poor performers. How do we expect to grow new products and make them profitable if were making it a disincentive to leave the “pillar products”. Thanks for the insight. I need to take a step back after being in the same product for 3+ years and start thinking about groups where the "old school" MS extravagance still exists....albeit probably not to the same scale it was many years ago.

Anonymous said...

Office's Christmas party was cut last year. If you work in Office, the best you can hope for is to be invited to your manager's house for a party. Otherwise, you might get cupcakes in a conference room. Some teams don't do anything.

Picture yourself in Office, making the company $9B/year, and having your party cut. Now imagine having to hear about XBox losing $4B, getting XBoxes as ship gifts, and having terrific "gala" holiday parties...

Anonymous said...

As to what computer scientist would want to work for microsoft - go to the microsoft.com research website and check there. You will find quite a few turing award winners, as well as other wellknown names.

The amount of technology transfer between Microsoft Research and the product groups varies widely.

Most of the time there is very little transfer. It is not because there isn't anything of value. It usually because someone in the product group just doesn't want to use it for whatever reason (e.g. looks better on their review if they write it themselves, don't understand how to use it, etc.).

"Unused talents gives you no advantage over someone who has no talent at all" --- Mark Twain

Anonymous said...

How many groups had their Christmas, err I mean holiday parties cut this year? Nice to see Microsoft pony up a few bucks to treat their employees and spouses to a end of year "thank you", guess that only applies if you work in Windows or Office


Your VP/GM probably spent the morale budget on something else. Every one gets the same morale budget, the xmas party comes off of this budget.

Anonymous said...

"How many groups had their Christmas, err I mean holiday parties cut this year? Nice to see Microsoft pony up a few bucks to treat their employees and spouses to a end of year "thank you", guess that only applies if you work in Windows or Office.... It is amazing how many companies from 25 people to 50,000 people still manage to have holiday parties year after year, but not at MS."

Dev Div had their holiday party cancelled so they could have a ship party instead.

What will be interestng is to see if we even get a holiday card this year that says "thanks for your hard work". Management was too cheap last year for that.

Anonymous said...

"The kind of changes being discussed are big, really big - and the kind I support and don't want to spoil and chatter about here (I'd rather shine a light on the problems in public and nurture great changes in private). "

As long as it addresses the mis-use of stack ranking to hurt someones career score would be valuable.


I don't see how the changes can possibly help. Most of the benefits will go to employees whose levels are already high; the grunts actually doing the work will effectively stay where they are. They can hope that maybe they will be recognized more in the future - where have I heard those promises before?

Anonymous said...

"How many groups had their Christmas, err I mean holiday parties cut this year? Nice to see Microsoft pony up a few bucks to treat their employees and spouses to a end of year "thank you", guess that only applies if you work in Windows or Office..."

"The comment from above about Holiday parties "guess that only applies if you work in Windows or Office" along with the ones about the parking spot being indicators of morale show how exactly how out of touch, ignorant and pessimistic the average 'insider' poster is in Mini. Dude! SQL Server took their whole group to Whistler! Each VP under Bob Mu in Windows Server had their OWN parties in Bellevue and Seattle's coolest hotels like Hyatt/Westin/etc. XBox had a gala party of it's own as did Visual Studio and Mobile."

Office Shared Dev didn't have a holiday party because they "didn't have the budget". Didn't get to go skiing either - too much risk, absolutely not the money (right, that's why there was no plan for a replacement event).

Made me feel all the hard work was paying off. It's very special, getting treated like a galley slave while the guys in groups that are losing money hand over fist are living the life, courtesy of Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

MSFT dogded a bullet with AOL. Buying it would have cut off GOOGs air supply, but it would have been as useless to MS as it will be to them. Effectively they paid much more than it was worth because we were in on the bidding, just so that they can protect their revenue stream.

Rock on Steve, great move.

Anonymous said...

about the bench. does this mean any employee at any level should be able to get on the normal bench? Let's say employees levels 61, 62, 63... can they be on the normal bench?

Anonymous said...

"MSFT dogded a bullet with AOL. Buying it would have cut off GOOGs air supply, but it would have been as useless to MS as it will be to them. Effectively they paid much more than it was worth because we were in on the bidding, just so that they can protect their revenue stream."

I tend to agree LT but for different reasons. In the ST though, don't kid yourself - this was a win for GOOG and another embarassing loss for an increasingly ineffectual looking MSFT (just look at the market reaction in the two stocks). Without AOL, while MSFT will probably try another end-run (i.e. something with another major GOOG customer and/or something with YHOO), imo they will be forced to go back to basics and - imagine if you will - actually deliver a superior search product (something promised more than a year ago but still nowhere close to realized) and successfully compete for business (i.e. understand customer needs, win their trust by promising and delivering value, etc,). If MSFT did more of the latter across all their businesses vs always going for the lazy shortcut, imo MSFT overall would be a much stronger company.

Gianni said...

hmmm, dodged a bullet you say?
Actually i did have the impression GOOG was more desperate to close the deal than MSFT was, maybe because it had more to lose.
I still don't understand if they really promised prominent placement for AOL's content as opposed to AOL's ads.
Now that would be a sign of desperation..

Anonymous said...

The bench is limited in attendance as you might suspect. Each VP is given a number of seats for each of the two benches and has to allocate them in their organization. You need to be tight with a VP or GM to even be considered. Bench participants get face time with both Bill and Steve, so attendance is carefully monitored. It is (or was) a 2 year program. I went through the first one in 2002 which was only a year but included some pretty intensive self-realization management training as well as above-mentioned face time. The next program, which I successfully managed to get one of my team into went two years, starting in 2003. The first program was considered OK, the second a resounding failure because the VP's that were supposed to participate and mentor the teams failed to do so over the entire two years. I left the company in 2005, I do not know the status of the third attempt.

Anonymous said...

As far as some great computer science being done and the high quality of Microsoft Research, you are absolutely right. There are some amazing scientists there doing some amazing work and the rest of the company ignores it. Some of this is bad tech transfer from Research, some of this is from PMs focused more on "bullets on the box" than new cool features that no one has asked for (yet). However, a lot of the top researchers are getting disillusioned and are looking to greener pastures outside of the 'soft where they can have a greater impact as well as the sweet cash. Expect to see more high profile defections in Research in the coming years.

A Former MSR Researcher

Anonymous said...

Mini
I have read your comments for sometime now and have refrained from posting. I appreciate your style and candor but sometimes feel that you might be just stepping the line.
Nevertheless, I was surprised to see that MS was ousted from the AOL bid. What is the ramification of this? I was hoping that the AOL bid would make a huge impact in MS' attempt to gain market share and make MSN a force to reckon with.

Anonymous said...

Anyone can be on the bench?

Well, let's think about that a moment shall we?

If, at level 61, someone recognizes that you have the strong potential to be level 68 someday - sure, you'll be on the P bench.

However, why would anyone look at a level 61 and say "they'll make partner someday?"

Hmm? You think that's air you're breathing?

Anonymous said...

"SQL Server took their whole group to Whistler!"

Must be nice.

Our group had a party mid-week, I'm assuming to accomodate the head of the team. It was great for him, I guess, but for those of us with spouses who work the next day, less than ideal. And for those of us who needed a sitter, finding one mid-week is not trivial.

As they played the Bollywood music on the dance floor, it became only too apparent that this was not a party for the people on the team , but a party thrown by people trying to suck up to the boss.

This is the one consistent time per year where we have an opportunity for spouses to meet the people they hear about all year long. It's a chance for the company to give back, and say a big thank you for work done well.

Maybe next year they'll remember that.

Happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

Hey guys I am a GOOG employee. A buddy of mine asked me to check this out. GOOG is a great place to work and all but I think of some you folks are exaggerating it a bit too much. It ain't exactly heaven out there in the Plex and we have our share of retarded assholes who have a my-way-or-highway attitude in meetings. At the end of the day, unless you are at the top, you will have to deal with these elements. It's just a matter of to what degree.

Anonymous said...

My comment:
Some of my fellow graduates with a deep interest in systems joined Google and got thrown into messing around with JavaScript! Can you imagine ...

Anon:
Your friends sound pretty unhappy. I'm glad they stood up for what they believed in and quit their jobs at Google.

They did quit their jobs at Google, right? :)

My Comment:
Nope they did not and they love to sit in there and whine just like many softies do here on the blog :)

My point was that not everyone at Google is super-excited at their work and this is especially true for those who are hardcore system folks but get dumped into messing with Javascript/Ajax and other very high-level front-end stuff.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the whining I'm reading in these comments about the holiday parties. You guys (and gals) seem to want to attribute lack of a party (or a poorly executed one) to Microsoft's poor decision making as a whole. This is not true and you're fooling yourself if you think it is. As someone accurately mentioned above, each team has a morale budget relative to the size of their teams and the team does what they will with it.

If your team squandered it earlier in the year and wasn't able to throw a holiday party, then tough luck.

However, having said that, I know that some divison MUST be getting more money than others despite being the same size. I mean, you're telling me that an org can send everyone and their spouses to Whistler and still throw parties all year long before that?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
c said...

Bi-weekly teamwide parties? Morale trips to Whistler? Our team reserved a conference room after-hours.

Blew our morale budget? Offhand, I can only think of two morale events in the last year... a trip to Gameworks, and a dinner event in town.

Either morale budgets are dramatically different for each team, or we're enhancing shareholder value by returning ours unspent.

Anonymous said...

If your team squandered it earlier in the year and wasn't able to throw a holiday party, then tough luck.

Our team sure didn't have any other morale events money was squandered on. Which raises the question - where does morale money go if it isn't wasted on ICs? Any chance manager morale is raised with extra-high bonuses instead?

Anonymous said...

MSR: There are some amazing scientists there doing some amazing work and the rest of the company ignores it.

I buy that there are a few real good researchers at MSR. However, every time we had to deal with some idea from research, the code was unusable, all we effectively had was 'here's an idea with a good-looking but poorly-working prototyp'. When you have to commit more than 15 people for a full cycle to put an idea into a product, chances are there are more valuable features that could be implemented with the same manpower.

So: Don't whine about getting to spend time with your hobby on Microsofts payroll without having to contribute to the bottom line. Thank your favourity deity instead.

Bet you even got a XMas party. :)

Anonymous said...

Regarding Partner/VP comp vs. everyone else. The discrepancy is so HUGE I had to leave the Company. I was in a position to see this directly, and when I saw that many of the folks on the bench program were precisely the wrongs ones to be leading the company into the future, there was no way I could stay. To see a GM who was a poor leader, causing disfunction within his organizatoin earning a bonus in the six-figures was just too much. But more than that it demonstrated just how wrong of a track the company is currently on - very sad considering how great a company Microsoft has been.

Anonymous said...

'Office Shared - at least we get screwed a lot' used to be the slogan. Glad to see nothing changed since I left that tarpit.

Anonymous said...

Morale budgets. Now there is a laugh. In the XBox group (2003) our morale budget consisted of no movies or group events for the year, and then the Holiday party pretty much sucked. However, I think what is worse is how the different groups get treated completely differently. You folks think that XBox is so great, but we are treated like the bastard step children. It took me 2 weeks to get one simple $12.95 book authorized for purchase. No one in the entire group was allowed to take any windows training classes at all for several years. The reasoning was "We do games here and you don't need windows classes". Of course it would help when a bunch of people get RIF'd if they had taken a few courses, they might have actually been able to move to a windows group. So instead a bunch of them had to leave the XBox group. The original XBox people had to buy their XBoxes (which wasn't a bad deal), but now they are giving them away. Big deal, it is about time. It is only reasonable that people who got the hardware and original software out to market get a machine and copies of the games. It is somehting that Nintendo and Sony both do. Do we want to have competition, or do we want everyone leaving to go to better jobs somewhere else. The last three ship parties I went to were so under pressure for new products to be released that they consisted of a few bottles of champagne out in the parking lot, and then back to the office for more work. We didn't go anywhere. Hurray for MS and XBox. MS does as little as they can, and then they wonder why people vent their disappointment. Let them do more than the basics of getting by and then they will get better reviews from their employees. They ignore the annual anonymous surveys. Then we give them a 2.5 for overall employee satisfaction, and they still don't care. It is a shame we can't stack rank the Executives out.

Anonymous said...

I mean, you're telling me that an org can send everyone and their spouses to Whistler and still throw parties all year long before that?

SQL Server did not have the usual Friday winedowns the whole year, saving money for the ship party. There were no parties all year long before that.

However, the Whistler trip was very nice. 5* hotels (Fairmont and Four Seasons), meals, activities (lift tickets/rentals, for ex.) all paid for. This was a reward for 5+ years of work since last release. However, I don't think there will be such trip after the next (shorter) release.

Who da'Punk said...

Time to do some revisionist comment un-approving. I screwed up and let a discussion of racism bloom. It caused a big flow of comments I'd rather not follow. Sorry for taking a step down that path but I'm rapidly retreating now.

Mini.

Anonymous said...

How history rhymes with itself... MSN is to Microsoft what OS2 was to IBM...

Anonymous said...

It ain't exactly heaven out there in the (Google) Plex and we have our share of retarded assholes who have a my-way-or-highway attitude in meetings.

Microsoft enjoyed its most prolific growth under a couple of retarded assholes, Gates and Ballmer. Having some retarded assholes on board is not bad. However, Microsoft’s DNA is predicated on a celebration of the retarded asshole. With growth slowing, its evident that just as quickly as RAs can push a company’s growth, so too can they hasten its decline. Take your own advice: Don’t be evil. It comes back to bite you.

Anonymous said...

>In the XBox group (2003) our morale budget consisted of no movies or group events for the year, and then the Holiday party pretty much sucked.

It probably helps if the group is profitable. Over here, we started making $$$ a couple years back and it was all sunshine and lollipops from that point forward.

Anonymous said...

Time to do some revisionist comment un-approving. I screwed up and let a discussion of racism bloom. It caused a big flow of comments I'd rather not follow. Sorry for taking a step down that path but I'm rapidly retreating now.

Thanks Mini. That is a touchy subject that I know many people have an opinion about. The torrent of comments you got proved that this is a major concern. Unfortunately it will not be easy to open the floor for discussions on this. Sometime Someday, we should find a way of discussing *that* topic. Even if you just request comments from people and summarize without allowing post-Mini feedback.

But if you are really concerned about bad managers, fiefdoms, favoritism and games people play for stack ranking success, you have to find a way to broach the topic. After all you are Who da Punk and you have touched on virtually all subjects so far.

Keep the work going

Anonymous said...

Microsoft enjoyed its most prolific growth under a couple of retarded assholes, Gates and Ballmer.
-------------------------------
Gates is man of the year, but what has he ever done that's worth a turd as a computer scientist? Brin and Page are ten times smarter than Gates and Schmidt is better than Balmer.



C'mon Mini, this is another screw up of yours IMO. No matter what we feel about MS, nobody has the right to use these kinds of names for Gates and Ballmer. Even if you subtract the last five years, the twenty years before has earned these guys some modicum of respect.

Please get your bleep machine back up again. The open source imbeciles have found their way back in.

Who da'Punk said...

Please get your bleep machine back up again. The open source imbeciles have found their way back in.

True. It has crossed a bit of a line. I'll pay more attention going forward.

Anonymous said...

Mini - on the whole racism thing. I'm a little shocked. From a man who has noteriety solely for inflammatory comments and insights into issues within the company, your response / censoring of 'racism' seems a bit false.

This appears to be much less about race than it is about non-merit based rewards (real or perceived - financial or otherwise).

The question of bias seems to be just the sort of topic that only a forum like this could help air.

I understand where it has the potential to devolve, but it also has the opportunity to bring the issue forward.

Your identity has been suggested in the past, and that you yourself are Indian and a manager. Does the suggestion of bias (or that you yourself may be biased) scare you enough to warrant censorship?

I'm only hypothesizing, but if it isn't handled here, it's not a short stretch of the imagination that someone will open a blog to talk about it elsewhere. Atleast here, you'd have some control.

I didn't make the comment, but it's not the first time I've seen statements like this on the blog.
There's some resentment originating from someplace - if it's misunderstood, let's air the issue.

If this is the corporate blog experiment that we all know this is, wouldn't you rather have more control of the situation?

Anonymous said...

>In the XBox group (2003) our morale budget consisted of no movies or group events for the year, and then the Holiday party pretty much sucked.

To the whining XBox guy the XBox groups budget probably went to buy a free machine and games. Dollars dont fall from the sky for any group.

Who da'Punk said...

Mini - on the whole racism thing. I'm a little shocked. From a man who has noteriety solely for inflammatory comments and insights into issues within the company, your response / censoring of 'racism' seems a bit false.

Racism discussion: yes, there seems to be something there, but don't you think it's probably everywhere one way or another? Don't answer that. I know my capabilities and, well, there are some hills I know I just can't climb. For now, anyways, that discussion is one of them. That genie is not getting out of the bottle thanks to me, though of course I think about it. Anyone out there is more than welcomed to start and manage that conversation for now.

Anonymous said...

In the XBox group (2003) our morale budget consisted of no movies or group events for the year, and then the Holiday party pretty much sucked.

To the whining XBox guy the XBox groups budget probably went to buy a free machine and games. Dollars dont fall from the sky for any group.

Now this just proves people don't read and then blather. I stated that we paid for our XBox(s) when they were released. The same basic price as everyone else except we got a couple of games and the extra controller included. Don't invent or speak on subjects you don't know anything about. We paid for them and then only 500 people were allowed to buy them, not everyone. There were a lot more people involved then were allowed to purchase. No money needed to fall from the skies. So, now explain where the morale budget went again? I guess you can't

Anonymous said...

"If this is the corporate blog experiment that we all know this is, wouldn't you rather have more control of the situation?"

- yes this is clearly a corporate expirament.

Let's not talk to much bout HR (as you will be redirected to "hey we are just messengers")

Lets spin cycles on corporate confidental so you can have HR spit in your face "you have lost and this is how we are winning the war"

Lets not talk about the issues in NDT (as you will be redirected to "hey its just one person")

Look intel is suffering this too http://www.faceintel.com

well foo-2-u.

Anonymous said...

Look intel is suffering this too http://www.faceintel.com

--
Not sure what this is, I know many people at intel. The folks behind this site are a bunch of angry people being charmed by one nutjob who stole from intel and got fired.

Anonymous said...

"So, now explain where the morale budget went again?"

Investors down 50%+ since 00 in part due to the $5-10B hemmorrage that is your still unprofitable division and you're whining about morale budgets? Unbelievable. Try making a profit and then perhaps you can complain.

Anonymous said...

I'd go as far as to cancel all holiday parties and the stupid picnic as well. Come on people, its really a waste...

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that some changes need to be swift and disruptive. The lack of such actions concern me. Leaders should be willing to assume some risk in taking such action, but it seems like all of our leaders are seriously risk averse. While I would never fully condone or expect leadership of a large corporation like MSFT to make ad hoc, gut-level decisions - I don't expect them to spend months in strategy meetings reviewing 10,000s of slides only to end up with small, non-meaningful changes we're getting today.

I was in a comp meeting a few weeks ago that represented multiple roles for the division I work in. Same comments were raised there re: fair pay, equity with competitors, etc. I wonder how many similar discussions are taking place with HR and compensation consultants. So much time and effort is being wasted by approaching the same problems at the division or group level and not at the corporate level. To me, one of the greatest failures of MSFT is our HR department - they truly are not representing the employees very well or driving and communicating change very well.

Why can't a quick decision be made:

1 - Realize the 65% percentile pay target relative to the industry worked well when our stock options were splitting every 2 years, now it simply doesn't work. A change is needed.
2 - To afford the change, e.g. costs, something else has to happen - some cost cutting somewhere else.
3 - What's everyone complaining about? The fat cats, middle- and upper-management that are not incented to being risk-takers. They want to minimize the decisions they have to make to ensure they can stay at MSFT as long as possible. This the the best target for reducing costs.
4 - Biggest, quickest change: Offer incentive package for the "fat cats" to take early retirement. If they don't, make it clear their role, success measures, and compensation will be changing, i.e. they will need to start justifying their salaries. Not only make it clear, make it so obvious they will not succeed in the "business as usual, rest and vest" fashion that 80% of those offered the option of leaving w/the package take it. Then simply bump the 65% percentile to 75% or higher.

Suddenly, across the board, we're that much more competitive with the likes of Google et al. This wouldn't nearly solve all problems, but it's a huge step in the right direction and could be accomplished in a couple of quarters.

Plus the fact that there are nearly 800 different jobs at MSFT today adds to the complexity of the business. Serious organizational change needs to happen swiftly to reduce that number to a manageable level. This sort of change should not be evolutionary, but revolutionary- taking place ASAP in order to show the good performers MSFT is committed to making the obvious required changes happen sooner rather than later. Otherwise the bleeding will only get worse and at some point our health will cross over to a serious state. I don't want to see that happen. We need invasive surgery now.

Anonymous said...

Let it be noted: Brummel is the key to this company's future. HR? Yes, believe it. Just you wait. She absolutely gets it and is not afraid of anything and has the power to change the entire company. I can't wait.

Anonymous said...

Regarding corporate bench, this is old information (now bench is 1 year long rather than 2, and they cut out a couple of the aspects listed here), but apparently the general structure of the MS bench is public information:
http://www.bluepointleadership.com/casestudies/index.php?link=000086