Saturday, October 15, 2005

Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

You've got to accentuate the positive,
Eliminate the negative,
Latch on to the affirmative,
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

Bing speaks to so many levels.

Pudding proof: just another quick post. Given that comments have been turned off, I find myself with some spare time to wander the web a little. Now, I can't play with right now because I web surf with highly restricted security settings (which kind of makes AJAX 'Oh-Nothing' for me). But I'm glad to see the press is getting and how gadgets became this Vista / / XP transitive beastie.

I'm curious if would have been included in the mix if they hadn't conjured themselves up and got something creative out there. I'm also reminded about how powerful Internet Explorer is not only as a web browser but also as a platform... just wander through some of the topics about programming in IE on MSDN and become amazed at the things you had no idea this little browser could do.

Anyway, so I bopped over to Sanaz's web space and scanned through it and saw this little snippet:

the next steps: slimming down our middle management and chiefs, revisiting the different disciplines at microsoft and evaluating: do we need these positions? do we need all these layers of management? can we be more efficient?

we have over 61,000 employees and only 8,000 of which are developers. doesn't sound right does it? not to me anyways.. well that's what my thinkweek paper will be on, doing more with less chiefs...

I look forward to that ThinkWeek paper! And what's empowering here is that any team that actually shipped something using efficient techniques is going to be able to speak from a position of power, versus say that smart guy waiving around books about scrum and stuff with a capital "X" in it. Ship something impressive first in a surprisingly efficient manner and then start waiving for attention.

Shareholder revolt? Well, I guess if enough shareholders take their proxy and look at question #1 and say "None of these folks!" that might just register on the leadership radar. For all the proxies heading my way (yeah, I hold Microsoft stock through more ways that I should), I'm selecting "Withhold all Nominees."

Where have all the comments gone? I pressed the big pause button this past week. I saw this comment overload coming long before it happened and it's a familiar pattern. It happened on BBSs when everyone else started by modems at Radio Shack. Happened on Usenet. As Clay Shirky notes in "A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy" it happens over and over again (like with Communitree).

Like Usenet, the contemporary non-efficient yet best approach would be to allow moderated comments that had a quick way to approve or delete comments (like a checkbox one way or the other for each pending one so that only one publish sequence would be required). I'll put a request into Goggle for that (I sure wish some community-specialist at Google was spending a day a week improving Blogger's features!) but I don't have high hopes of seeing that anytime soon. I could just open the floodgates and delete offending comments, but that's rather slow with Blogger, too, and, heck, I'm lazy so offending comments would probably linger for a day or more, leading to their own threaded life.

Or I could switch to another blogging service that had moderated comments (I want the comments to be part of the posting, not hanging off of the main page on some other server). But remember: lazy!

I grieve the loss of comments, as I'm sure a lot of you do out there, because some truly great gems showed up that provided interesting perspectives into Microsoft. It was just becoming harder to find the gems in the middle of egregious brain-misfires. The only thing I can think of in the short-term is to be a comment-monkey myself: if you have a comment and would like me to consider adding it on to a particular post, you can send an email to me at this mailto link and I'll give it a scan and when I have a bunch to post I'll add it, if it's got good content and no noise. Note that anything sent to that address is fair game for me to share. Send it elsewhere if you want it to be private. I have no interest in sharing who it is from unless in your message body you specifically add your name as part of signing the message. And use a freebie mail account or some remailers if you're worried about your own privacy.

As a social experiment to indulge my own curiosity, I might silently turn the comments back on in the future. But no time soon. And if that's not cool with you and you're interested in a space like the old Mini: create your own blog or such and commence with the posting and commenting. I'll link to it and any interesting comments that crop up.


Who da'Punk said...

Sunday's Seattle Times has an article about good bosses and bad bosses. To the public joy of Microsoft, it includes the following gem:

Party *&$^#% pooper

I worked as a product designer at Microsoft for over five years.

When one of our team members decided to work for another group, we held a little send-off party.

Our group manager grudgingly attended.

Near the end of the party, someone asked him to say a few words about the outgoing team member.

He stood up and said — and I quote — "I only have two words to say: #*%@ you!"

Before leaving the room, he turned around and said "And to anyone who didn't hear that, just be glad you have a job!"

Wow, who was that? Any of tales of good Microsoft bosses or bad Microsoft bosses?

Who da'Punk said...

Darklon sent the following link to some of his discussions around Microsoft:

A snippet from his note:
Much of it is pertinent to the material you have been posting, based on my own experience working as a MS grunt in the support end of the business here at what we used to call PSS East.

Who da'Punk said...

Both Dare and Rich Tehrani have accumulated a lengthy comment from longtimer. Snippet:

The Longhorn saga highlights some stark lessons about why employees are pissed off and frustrated with the very top handful of execs. We are all held to very high standards. We write annual commitments, and work very hard to achieve them. If we don’t achieve them, we know we will not be rewarded. We want to do great work, make great products, and be rewarded for it, personally and financially. We don’t shirk from this challenge, we are up to it! But, we expect these rules to apply to everyone, evenly and openly. All the way to the top.

Dare's page: Reposting a Comment on Microsoft and Accountability

Rich Tehrani's page: Mini Microsoft
Rich Tehrani's follow-up: More Mini-Microsoft

Who da'Punk said...

via email

I am not a Microsoft employee, and I have not made any comments on your blog. Since I saw your blog on Slashdot, I have visited it once a day or so. I found it incredibly interesting, not because of your posts, but because of the comments and discussions between MS employees. It was an interesting glimpse into that corporate culture.

Without comments, and especially if you only allow comments that you approve by mail, I will not be visiting your site.

You are struggling with the classic problem of whether or not to moderate comments that you feel are problematic. It is a rough one, but your popularity is largely due to the discussions that took place on your site, not just the things you have written. Which do you think is more interesting, a guy ranting alone that there are worthless people inside MS or many intelligent people (including you as the blogger) discussing various tensions and problems inside a powerful corporation? I understand that these tensions might seem trivial to you, but you can always attempt to steer the conversation by your top level blog postings. Shouldn't that be enough, without driving off your readers?

It is probably easier to attempt to have a monopoly on the conversation, but I hope you reconsider and allow people to comment in your space.

Who da'Punk said...

I appreciate the feedback. You're special in that you could endure the noise. Let's just let things cool down here for a while. I understand if there are many smart and good looking readers who go elsewhere in the meantime.

Additionally, if such a forum (well, spectacle might be a better term) is so deeply desired, anyone can create a blog allowing comments to let it continue. It does not have to be here. Heck, someone could, if they wanted, just create posts that link to posts here and open the comment gates. I'm certainly not restricting anyone in that regards.

Who da'Punk said...

via email:

You suggest "someone could, if they wanted, just create posts that link to posts here and open the comment gates." Done; the new blog at

links to your post, and is open for comments.

Who da'Punk said...

via email:

As a MSFT alumni I always wanted to build the following product.

Where’s Da Meet? – Meeting Organizing System

It would link w/ Outlook to see team schedules and analyze availability but the true key would be in its preliminary structure. It would list meeting organizer, key voting topic of the meeting, meeting originators ideas and supporting docs and then have a voting page. The voting page would have e YES or NO on one page, than YES w/ these provisions or NO w/ these problems. These two complex voting pages would have canned check lists of ; to complicated to complete because of; a.Time b. Personnel c.Cost . D. Low customer pull E. All of the above and NO voters could list there reasons for NO.

Meeting originator can take the results and post recommended changes and agree to some or not and repost meeting for vote. If the pre-determined approval level ( majority, 70%, unanimous) for this second passing doesn’t happen then a team meeting is then actually scheduled to hash it out.

THINK ABOUT IT! You can voice your opinion, make concessions/re-evaluations, track project/feature voting for posterity and eliminate 90% of all meetings! If folks KNEW that if they didn’t get the vote on the second pass that there would be a meeting they would make sure their first inputs guaranteed a good chance at passing on the second trip.

So many meetings have no focus, no documentation; no structured/tracked/recorded voting that it is a pain to just breathe the same air in the room! This system would not only do all of these things but eliminate 90% of the CYA and other meetings everyone attends daily.

What do you think pudknocker?

My best,

Mark Walker

Who da'Punk said...

I was sent an email that I need to check out the internal Microsoft blog of Chris Jones (http://blogs/chrisjo/ ) which I'll do soon.