Sunday, May 28, 2006

All Good Things...

All good things come to an end. Or to a long pause, or to a ride off into the sunset, or to at least a substantial hibernation (preferably on a holiday weekend, to make the least amount of noise).

I don't often talk or write to other people about what I do here. I did so twice this past week, in some detail, regarding where this blog is and why I started it and whether I felt it has been a success. And one of the journalists, Mr. Westneat, picked up on my weariness (and, ahem, my sloppiness). While in the past I've been sparkling and enthused to share in what's happened here, I was glum and darkly reflective. Even somewhat defeated. All of this, no doubt within me already, became obvious to me the more I spoke with Mr. Westneat and then thought about our conversation through the rest of that day.

I'm glad I went through the questions and the answers because it's forced me to reflect.

If doing something hurts, stop it. Same goes for something that's not fun. And, you know, currently, this oddly enough isn't fun. Thrilling certainly. Wildly educational, thanks to the comments coming in, absolutely. But not fun. There are other things going on in the world that I'm missing out on, and they are beginning to take a higher priority. For me.

A stark realization came to me when the review performance model changed. The dreaded trended 3.0 is finally gone! Finally. Gone. Why wasn't I shaking my boo-tay and dancing around like Tony Manero? Amidst all of the great changes and the cheering, my heart felt heavy. Something's not right, and I don't feel right with myself. And that means to me that I've got to hit the breaks and engage in some deep reflection. Victory as cheery as a wake? No, something's wrong. I've got a few clues, and none of them make me feel proud of myself.

Back in 2004, I took a lot of time to plan and think before I started putting up the first few posts. And now I assess myself to be at a crossroads. Time for Mini-Microsoft 2.0? Or to do something else, and let the bits here cool off and fade from attention? The 2.0 road isn't going to happen overnight - more like six months if it's going to hit the ground running like the first time I started this up. Another consideration, as I stand at these crossroads and hope that Mr. Willie Brown's deal maker doesn't show up, is that great changes are indeed afoot at Microsoft. And these changes are going to take time to grow and I'm not going to poke them with a sharp stick until they've had their chance to prove themselves.

I could take the Dread Pirate Roberts approach to here... that'd certainly give me plenty of time to play with my beloved Buttercup again. Lots to think about. But I'm not going to. For a while.

Like I said before, for the near-term I will throw up the occasional interesting article or reposted comment. Perhaps that is all it takes given the number of excellent, good-looking people willing to spend time reading and contributing to the comments. And I'll continue to moderate comments just because occasionally something wildly offensive does show up in the pending queue. So does this mean that this is the end of Mini-Microsoft? For now, yes, but only my end of it. The rest is up to you.

Take care,

Mini.

(Updated: fixed a typo.)

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think this is very understandable. Even Spiderman had to do some reflecting and determine what was best for him (talking about Spiderman 2 movie here). In your case, however, one can hardly say that you're forsaking the city and leaving the innocent to suffer on their own. After all - we did defeat the evil known as the trended 3.0s.

I appreciate this blog because of how much I've learned from it. I am a seasoned former intern and recent college recruit who will be starting full time work at MS very soon. It's my assumption that many large companies have internal problems similar to what has been discussed here, but it has been very encouraging to be able to see Microsoft respond to this criticism and move in a positive direction. This blog has even provided me with a great platform for discussion with my HR contact and soon-to-be manager as well. All in all, despite the remaining problems that still exist, things are getting better and I very much look forward to my career at Microsoft. Thanks mini, for the time and effort you’ve put into this.

Anonymous said...

Please feel proud of youself - you made a difference

Anonymous said...

Too bad .....

ChinaLawBlog said...

Wow. You will be very much missed. Good luck. I always read you because as a Seattleite I always thought it important to know the truth at Microsoft.

Anonymous said...

We all knew this day would come, and recent comments made it obvious it was imminent. We can't argue with the reasons given. All we can do is thank Mini for his incredible courage and wisdom, exactly when it was needed. Microsoft was saved, even if not in quite the way he originally envisioned. History was made here.

All I ask is that he post links to the successors. There are obviously plenty of us that care, so new blogs will appear. Keeping the community together is essential. Where he sees wisdom he can help it to shine.

Anonymous said...

Nooooooooo, we still need you mini. The jobs not done till Balmer is gone.

man said...

Adios!

Haste la vista?

John said...

I'm not sure if this is "goodbye" or "goodbye for now," but thanks for all you've done so far. I tend to not look very far beneath the surface - I accept what I am shown. I don't work for MS (but am in IT) and you've helped me make sense of a lot of things in my company and with business in general.

Alyosha` said...

Here's one hoping your absence isn't for too long.

As you've pointed out many times, the success of this blog is this "Who da' Punk" character at all, but rather the community of commentators who've gathered here to discuss the good and the bad about Microsoft, and to talk about ways to Microsoft an even better company. If this blog didn't exist, someone would have had to invent it. You just happened to be the guy to get the ball rolling ...

And we do important work here. Our voices are being heard. Maybe the recent HR overhaul would have happened without this blog, but there's no denying that the MiniMSFT blog is a catalyst for change at Microsoft. As Westneat put it, this is Microsoft's "virtual union hall". Let's keep the union hall virtual, cause I'm not interested in paying dues yet ...

Give some thought towards
introducing a few guest contributers. You know, it's not possible to always have something interesting to write. A lot of blogs have found this is a good way to maintain the momentum after the founder has started to feel "blog burnout".

Anonymous said...

Good for you Mini.

As a passionate softie who has been frustrated for some time by the largesse and bloat at Microsoft, I fell in love with your blog. It was so refreshing to have a public forum advocating turning back the clock and slimming Microsoft down into an agile development company again.

My only regret is the signal-to-noise ratio between those who actually have ideas for making Microsoft better and the cadres of people who come across as whining idiots. Not to mention the anti-Microsoft Slashdotters who showed up when comment moderation was off.

Now forget about this blog and go back to doing what you love.

Peace out.

Anonymous said...

Booo. This "last" post is vague, rambling, and generally very unimpressive. I had hoped to hear your take on the recent changes as they happened, since right now we have no idea which things they will actually affect. Instead we get this "this isn't fun anymore" cop-out. Of course you're free to write (or not write) as much as you want, but I expected more from you. I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed.

Anonymous said...

My hat is off to you Mini. You have created something that can quite possibly live beyond you. That is an accomplishment few can claim in life.

Keep the forum open, moderate, throw out an occasional bone to keep things interesting.

We can take it from here. You deserve your rest.

And do not, under any circumstances, come out and reveal yourself. The world is full of people that envy what you are and what you have done here. You do not need their attention.

My sincere thanks.

Anonymous said...

Mini, ideally, there can only be one of the following two ends.

1. You achieved what you wanted to achieve for us. In that case, reveal your name so that we could give you proper credit.

2. You gave up the hope on Microsoft. In that case you may want to go to more hopeful places. So no harm in revealing your name.

I do not think either one of the following holds. Clearly you have not achieved want you wanted to. RIFed has not yet started. Clearly you have not given hope either. You are still planning to monitor the blog.

But I think without your active postings this blog may lose meaning. I followed your blog with all the comments for a long time but then comments start becoming more and more senseless. And I starting ignoring them. I do not think I am the only person who has started ignoring the comments. So if you stop posting and believe that the blog will remain popular (hence powerful) just on the basis of comments then you may be slightly wrong.

Anonymous said...

Thanks and all the best Mini. I found the part about your feelings in keeping the secret from your wife to be very touching in Westneat's column. You are a brave person, and clearly have made a big impact.

Doug said...

Yes. Do it. Don't listen to the "not angry but disappointed" or "you're not done 'til Balmer's gone crowd" -- they're just feeling weak and helpless and wishing you'd fight their battles for them, the battles they don't have the balls or backbone to fight themselves. You've done what you can, and you've done it well.

Enjoy your well-deserved break ... things are improving, and it's up to others to build on what you've started. You've earned some time away from trying to solve the problem of keeping 70,000 priveleged tech workers happy. It's their turn to stand up and make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Mini! It's astounding that a single person could significantly change such a large organization without a seat on the board of directors. It's clearly time to sit back and watch the changes actually shake out. I'm glad someone sees the foolishness of continued protest without giving these changes the time they require.

I personally doubt the compensation disparities will change while Ballmer is running things, but stranger things have happened. Thanks for opening so many eyes regarding SPSA.

Never reveal yourself unless you want Microsoft to sue you for every possible thing they can think of.

Anonymous said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

People finally started to listen. Why would you quit now? And why end on such a lame note?

You can't get us whipped into a frenzy and then leave us with nowhere to post.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I can hear you saying "So long, and thanks for all the fish".You made a huge difference.

Anonymous said...

Here's an exampe of American management:

THE CANOE RACE

A Japanese company and an American company decided to have a boat race on the Missouri River. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance before the race. On the big day of the race the Japanese won by a mile.

Afterwards, the American team became very discouraged and morally depressed. The American management decided that the reason for the
crushing defeat had to be found. A "Measurement Team" , made up of senior management was formed. They would investigate and recommend
appropriate action. Their conclusion was that the Japanese team had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the Americans had 1 person
rowing and 8 people steering. So American anagement hired a consulting company and paid them incredible amounts of money. They advised that too many people are steering the boat and not enough people are rowing.

To prevent losing to the Japanese again the next year, the rowing teams management sturcture was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 3 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant uperintendent steering manager. They also mplemented a new performance sytem that would give the 1 person rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the "Rowing Team Quality First Program", with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rower. "We must give the rower empowerment and enrichments through this
Quality First Program."

The next year the Japanese won by 2 miles. Humiliated, the American management laid off the rower for poor performance, halted development
of a new canoe, sold the paddles, and cancelled all captial investments for new equipment. Then they gave a High Performance Award to the steering managers and distributed the money saved as bonuses to the senior executives.

Anonymous said...

[is this a repeat? if so sorry -- I"m a first timer]
Please accept this amended version of the Ballad of Mini:

I dreamed I saw ‘da Punk last night,
Online like you and me
Says I, “But, Punk, you said goodbye”
“I never did,” says he.
“I never did,” says he.

“Stack ranking’s gone, the towels are back,
“And Lisa’s had her day
“But if it’s just cosmetic, then,
“I’ll still have much to say.
“I’ll still have much to say.”

“We’re doubling up, and bullpens loom,
“The stock’s oppressed as hell.
“There’s challenges that still remain,
“And wrongs to right as well.
“And wrongs to right as well.”

I dreamed I saw ‘da Punk last night,
He told me with a grin:
“Avoid the RIF and stay online,
“And we may meet again.
“And we may meet again.”

Anonymous said...

It was always about the towels, wasn't it? They are back and Mini is gone. See you on the bike path. All the best LisaB..I mean Mini.

Anonymous said...

Well Mini, I'll miss your posts but you've definitely earned the break. I always appreciated that writing this blog represented a huge personal commitment (not to mention risk) but no more so than when I read that you'd shielded your spouse from your role here. That must have been tough on you both and nothing in professional life is worth scrwewing that up. I hope you feel good about what you've accomplished through the blog though. Regardless of whether this forum continues or not, your lasting legacy imo is that people are now asking questions. Whether it's employees, media, shareholders, analysts, etc., the era of invincibility is gone and increasingly MSFT management are having to explain their decisions and the subsequent results or lack thereof. IMO, that can only be good longer term. Enjoy and rest up.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mini,
Just read the article in the paper this Sunday and am very impressed by your courage to help so many within the giant who need this. Your courage should be an inspiration to others to not be afraid to stand up and defend what they believe in; to actually do well by others as well as for themselves; to help those who are caught up in the web of a giant who is out of control and don't realize the effects on those who put heart and soul into what they believe in.

Those who hide behind the discouragement of your choice to "sleep" should stop complaining about that and start taking up their own blog; their own battles to be fought and start fighting! Many others in similar environments with other companies should be encouraged to do the same! Maybe this is the catapult to help make that happen.

All the best to you.

Anonymous said...

Mini, you should come out to the techcrunch Seattle party this Wednesday!

http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/05/25/techcrunch-seattle-party-next-week/

Many of your readers will be there...maybe it would be an sweet time to 'come out'?

Anonymous said...

Well, Mini, reading the comments, I get the feeling that taking a brief leave from blogging may be the best thing to happen to the mini-Microsoft "movement".

Microsofties are still angry about various thises-and-thats, and you turning up was important- it showed what could be done.

So I think the Microsoft senior management - are going to find several "Sons/Daughters of Mini" blogging in the future, just when they thought the towels had wiped the entire problem.

And yes, I'd fly up to have a cappucino with you, but my arms are tired.

Yours Eponymously
Epon

Anonymous said...

Wish you well Mini. For your sake, I hope you choose to ride off into the sunset and enjoy life rather than tackling all of MS’ problems. You have done your part to plant the seed to make Microsoft a better place and have made a difference.

I caught an episode of Dr. Phil (yes, Dr. Phil) and the advice he gave a guest on his show whose ex-husband had stolen everything she had was “The greatest revenge is living well.” Hope you follow that advice.

Anonymous said...

Mini,
Appreciate your blog very much.
Over the last couple years we met or corresponded with many people at Microsoft. In our 15 minutes of fame we got invited to the campus for a product release.
You guys spent a lot of money on us and the only way that I can figure out how to repay your generosity is to use and recommend your products to the fullest.
Also, as and end user the Team we worked with has been very gracious to include us on testing new versions.
Would just like to thank the Team we work with and you Mini for including me in your blog.

Customer

Anonymous said...

Mini,
A heartfelt thanks to you.

So many of us have learned much thanks to you.

Anonymous said...

Apathy is bad. Not caring is bad.

But burnout is also bad.

Caring enough to try to change things is good. But it also tends to drive us toward burnout.

I don't have this all figured out, Mini. I tend to bounce from one side to the other - from caring too little to caring too much. Trying to change things, caring, but not getting so wrapped up in things that I burn out... I don't have that figured out yet. Maybe I never will.

What I'm trying to say is, it's OK to say that you need to back off for a while. It's even OK to not care a whole lot - for a while, until the burnout fades.

Or maybe I'm all wet in my understanding of where you're at right now. But whatever you're reasons, it's OK. You're not our slaves, and you don't owe us a blog. You need a break, for whatever reason, so take a break. Enjoy.

MSS

Anonymous said...

Inconceivable!

The ViewMaster! said...

Soundz Like U Could Use a Nice, L-O-N-G Hawaiian Vacation!

http://spaces.msn.com/theoceanviewnet/

Aloha! ...& Mahalo! Mimi! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Looks like you are only posting the love fest comments so I don't expect to see this one.

You are a coward for hiding all this time and now running when things heat up and you are close to being unmask. You were wrong in doing something’s and now you are figuring out this is not a game and you could really lose your job breaking company rules giving out internal information to a newspaper. You are even worse because you hid this all from the one person that should trust you, your spouse. You should do the right thing and come clean with your spouse and with Microsoft and not just your spouse because what you have done is wrong. You have held Microsoft at a disadvantage from defending itself along with anyone who disagreed with you by not posting their comments and that’s what makes you a coward and not the hero you present yourself as with the love fest post.

There should be a level of guilt you should carry around for the rest of your life for holding a one sided advantage over anyone like you have even if it’s a company. Real people work at this company and you have harmed morale and damaged the company’s image to the public all so you can run and hide like the coward you are.

I hope to god you never coach a team, go in the military or anything that takes leadership because you are coward that heads for the door at the first sign of trouble and that probably explains why you need create a blog for anyone to listen to you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above at 7:27 morale at Microsoft was already in the crapper Mini just did the service of bringing it to light . . . and many, many of us thank him heartily for it!

Who da'Punk said...

You have held Microsoft at a disadvantage from defending itself along with anyone who disagreed with you by not posting their comments and that’s what makes you a coward and not the hero you present yourself as with the love fest post.

Uh... poor defenseless Microsoft?

I don't know which the hell blog you've been reading thinking it was Mini-Microsoft, but it certainly wasn't here if you think I've bounced comments just for disagreeing with me. Take a few moments to actually read what's here.

What kind of comments do I bounce? Frothing content-free anti-Microsoft offensive screeds for the most part, or comments from folks who are pretty disturbed or just don't have a point but figure spicing it with some R-rated or scatological language will elevate it, somehow.

As for anti-Mini-Microsoft comments bounced here on this particular post? One from Beer28 (go figure) and another indulging in some scatological language. Interestingly enough, that scatological comment did follow the theme of your comment, only as if it had just chugged down a fifth of bourbon and just plain got the essential point of it.

I've always encouraged all sides to be discussed. And I've admitted when I've said something wrong.

So let me see, just for quick statistical check-in here… 537 comments not approved, 3932 approved. So that's about a 12% reject rate for when moderation is on. And that includes double-posts, comment spam, and the above kind of naughty posts.

You can accuse me of many things, but don't go accusing me of lavishing myself just one side of the issue.

And, anyone can always post their own blog entry and directly link to a particular post and it will show up below. Of course, if you've got more than one comment in you, you can start your own blog and explain your point of view in greater detail.

Walk a mile in my shoes, hmm?

Who da'Punk said...

Another consideration, as I stand at these crossroads and hope that Mr. Willie Brown's deal maker doesn't show up, is that great changes are indeed afoot at Microsoft.

Mini-Decoder: Crossroads (1986)

(Noted since someone in an article thought I was referring to some internal Microsoftie on the verge of hunting me down. Perhaps I need to start footnoting like Johnny Truant.)

Anonymous said...

Great job. Hats off to you.

Anonymous said...

Good luck, my friend. You've made the company I onced love better. Alas, it was too late for me as I've headed south for brighter days and a new job with more stock upside:)

sixteenbit said...

i hope your long ride into the sunset allows you plenty of time to re-energize.

Redeemed said...


What kind of comments do I bounce? Frothing content-free anti-Microsoft offensive screeds for the most part, or comments from folks who are pretty disturbed or just don't have a point but figure spicing it with some R-rated or scatological language will elevate it, somehow.

Unfortunately you do not bounce "frothing content-free PRO-Microsoft offensive screeds", especially those spiced with R-rated language directed to the "open-source" crowd.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear you're taking a break - but only sorry for me - because it's been a great ride reading you.

You, on the other hand, need to take a break to recharge and get some fresh perspective.

And of course you know this - but ignore the taunts to come out publically. The first thing that will happen is that you'll be fired - which may not be much of a threat. But the second thing that will happen is the Night of Long Knives as the LSA group gets a hold of you and your assets. No free legal help for you!

Stay quiet.

Anonymous said...

sorry to see you go,

~jim

Anonymous said...

Time to enjoy real life!

John said...

I hope you find the time and energy to keep us all informed here and there when you feel something important is happening in the realm of MS that we should know about. I look forward to your occasional posts.

Enjoy your "sabatical".

Anonymous said...

Since your work has had a positive net impact on Microsoft, then I wish you could have some of the profits that MS will enjoy. You put in a lot of hard work for them in this blog, trying to make them a better company in your own way. Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

I've personally always disliked the American way of giving stereotype names to people who work in some large company, such as calling oneself a "softie" (which is probably the most humiliating name ever devised for a group of people). I mean, it's not as if the company would hesitate to throw you out the door if they feel like it.

That said, Microsoft is probably no worse than any other large company. I've really enjoyed this blog, mainly for the frothing mindlessly patriotic "softies" who feel personally attacked because of some criticism of the more moronic things that happen there.

Enjoy yourself, if you can, Mini. There is much more to life than selling your soul to a large organisation that couldn't really care if you lived or died.

JustCallMeMr2pt5 said...

He Mini,

I wish you well in whatever you decide to do. Personally, it was just a little too late, so I have decided to move on. After trying for 10 years to make a difference from the "inside", I am going to work for the competition and see if I can't at least be a part of the much need "wake-up call" that MSFT needs. I'm sorry to be leaving because it took a long time to get where I am today, but for my own well-being and my family I need to do this. So many have left this year and with all the talk of letting ALL vendors go at the end of this fiscal year, I just can't stay around and watch such a once great company collapse in on itself. I care far too much to stay and be a part of what is surely to come: RIFs, re-orgs, etc. I only wish that we could have met and talked, maybe we did and I just didn't know it was you. I wish there was some way we might keep in touch because I know there would definitely be a place for you where I am going. You are a good person and I only hire people who have the "courage to tell the truth and stand up for what they believe no matter what", and you certainly do that quite well. Thanks for the chance to add this parting comment and for providing this awesome Mini-MSFT forum for all of us for so long. I for one will miss you along with all of those with whom I have served in the trenches over the past ten years. It's been an absolute honor.