Wow, just in time to go into next week's Company Meeting with blushingly good PR. Much better than two years ago! From the upcoming BusinessWeek magazine:
(1) How To Make A Microserf Smile - profile on Ms. Brummel with some background about her contributions to HR since being appointed. Interesting snippet:
Nothing got people buzzing more than Brummel's overhaul of the performance review. Employees dreaded Microsoft's ranking system for all the usual reasons: It pitted co-workers against one another at a time when the company needed to be more collaborative; it was unfair; it made frank evaluations less likely.
Here Brummel faced a political third rail. Ballmer was the godfather of the forced curve, believing that differentiation—giving a few people the top grade, most a pass, and laggards failing marks—was the key to Microsoft's we-take-the-hills culture. And when Brummel broached ditching the curve, it was his turn to say "No way." More yelling ensued as they darted in and out of each other's adjacent offices.
(2) ONLINE EXTRA: Playbook: The New HR - I can has rewardzburger?
(3) ONLINE EXTRA: Q&A with Microsoft's Lisa Brummel - I'm sorry, but aren't there supposed to be questions and answers? Anyway, the Microsoft Office of the future (as in, where you're going to be planting your tocks during the day):
So HR chief Lisa Brummel is creating Microsoft's next-generation workspace: the elastic, meet-my-mood office. Here too she is going far beyond what most companies consider: open plan or not? Instead, she's creating a hybrid workplace of sliding doors, movable walls, and urban-loft-like spaces tailored to individual needs.
(4) ONLINE EXTRA: Reshaping Microsoft's HR Agenda - Q&A with Ballmer and Brummel. Lord, I'm still laughing from the below snippet: thumbs up, Mr. Ballmer, for the honesty:
She went on a listening tour to hear from employees. And one of the things she heard was frustration about Microsoft's forced ranking system. Did that resonate for you? Did that seem like something Microsoft needed to remake? Ballmer: No. No? Ballmer: Uh-uh. It wasn't top of mind for you? Ballmer: Uh-uh. But were you averse to changing it? Ballmer: Uh-huh.
More interesting nuggets in there about how our review system is still pretty much the same from Ballmer's POV, the potential for free-lunches like Google, and the $1,500 you get for buying a hybrid vehicle. And whether Ballmer would ever blog (sorry, secret Steves!).
(5) ONLINE EXTRA: Microsoft's Mini-Me Susses Brummel - interview with some dashingly good-looking loud-mouth blogger.
(6) Graphic: Chief Happiness Officer - well, graphic with interesting text. What, we're going to get a free bus service? With WiFi! OMG!1! P0n13s! I LOVE YOU LIS- ...ahem. That's swell.
What else do you find interesting in the articles that's either in there or not in there?
Meanwhile, back in RealityVille, Microsoft Extreme Makeover has a new post: Wanted Significant MSFT shareholder with a spine. Rock'em sock'em! The post mulls over the article Of Microsoft, china pigs and hungry bears Mixed Signals by Rupert Goodwins. Talk about a dash of cold water. Perhaps you should read that before diving into the feel-good Brummel articles.
This snippet looks at inflection points in Microsoft future:
This is the weather for a coup, whether by a posse of external shareholders with inside support or a rebel group of managers with help from the investors. The trigger point isn't far away – we're nearing the end of the multi-year transition period that's seeing Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie replace Bill Gates. By now, the changes in Microsoft should be visible – but it's not looking that good. The two big moves – into advertising, and into Net-delivered cloud services – look more like Google-chasing than anything else; neither address the many and extremely deeply ingrained reservations even Microsoft's closest partners have about dealing with Redmond. Neither properly answer the question of revenues in 2017.
Evokes this response:
The "rebel group of managers" willing to back away from the SPSA feeding trough long enough to finally do the right thing for the company and shareholders, sounds like a tall order. A "posse of external shareholders" seems a lot more likely, but right now there's no obvious sheriff - or posse. A third option would be a former MSFT manager with external shareholder backing. Someone like Brad Silverberg, for example, who was right about the web when Gates and Ballmer were wrong and is no longer there because of it. But lately he's been praising them. Or maybe he's just laying the groundwork for an impending return :-)
Hmm. Need to step back into HappyVille? Okay, here's a question: Hey, do you think they'll install Starbucks i-Cup machines in our new commuter busses? And what speed of WiFi do you think they'll provide?
(Oh, and I know I put up a new post in the middle of everyone sharing their review numbers; feel free to keep on adding to this one, along with anything new. Sorry that it all ends up being spread across three posts.)