So I recently came across the article How Microsoft Lost Its Mojo: Steve Ballmer and Corporate America’s Most Spectacular Decline.
After reading the article I’ve been thinking how things can change at Microsoft and I think it is probably time for Ballmer to step aside from the CEO post. As per the comments in the article since Ballmer joined Microsoft back in 1980 he was there to be the ‘business’ guy, doing the deals, sales …etc. That’s all well and good, and he has obviously done well over the years but as per common opinions today Microsoft needs to do more to regain it’s old self with all the current competition It’s facing.
From a financial point of view Microsoft is certainly not doing badly (https://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/19/us-microsoft-idUSBRE83I1DO20120419) but what they are lacking today is the ‘buzz’ and excitement of being a tech giant that creates cool things.
One reason this has become an issue in recent times is what is referred to in the article I mentioned earlier about the ranking system for staff which has created internal competition rather than external competition. I think for Microsoft to break free from this culture they need a change at the top. The main reason I believe this is necessary is to create the perception –* at least *– that Microsoft is willing to change the way it operates. I think the external view – towards Microsoft – needs to be shaken up a bit so that people can really believe that things are changing at Microsoft. The company has recently been bringing out a lot of new initiatives that are quite different from things they’ve done in the past: Windows Phone 7, Windows 8, Metro, the new Hotmail/Outlook, Office 2013 preview …etc. What is left behind though is how some of things products are going to reach the consumer. Will Microsoft’s bureaucracy and internal competition get in the way of the success of some of these products? I think it might.
So the question now I think is: Is it possible to have a shake up at the top? Could Steve Ballmer step aside from his post and allow fresh blood to flow through to the top of the company?
This is where things become interesting. I think from Ballmer’s point of view Microsoft is ‘his baby’ and as with any parent, letting go of your child is not an easy thing. I think for Microsoft to do another bang they need to do less business ‘less Ballmer’ and more innovation ‘more Sinofsky?’ but is that something that makes sense? What if innovation wont result in bringing in $$$ which is what I guess Ballmer is good at doing. In my view, the answer should be bring in more $$$ by doing business through innovation rather than instead of innovation. It seems that in recent times the culture shift at Microsoft has resulted in staff and overall the company itself wanting to make money more than to innovate and the end result is a stalemate in bringing out new cool things that causebang in the industry. Ballmer staying as CEO for so long has kept business/finances stable at Microsoft, but today stable is not good enough and other companies are flying past Microsoft. So today, the expectation from Microsoft is stableand not cool, exciting or innovative.
This is why I think a change at the top can be a catalyst to a new perception about Microsoft, and the reason I have not suggested that Ballmer step out/down is that I still believe his presence will still give some sense of stability on the business front which I guess can allow the changes to be a calculated/managed risk. But 12 yeas as CEO is way too long I think in an age where companies can rise and fall in much shorter life-spans.
So Ballmer, it’s time to move and let you’re baby grow alone.