Rick has just posted his wrap-up of the PDC. There is a lot of good thinking in there. In particular, this section stuck out for me.
Employee Pulse Check
It’s been a week of let’s dump on Microsoft with a Business Week article and Mini-Microsoft getting his time in the MSM spotlight. As a particular bad joke, instead of getting a speaker badge, I got a staff badge. Very funny, Joan. Not one to miss an opportunity, let me give you some observations from the staff rooms I hung out in as well as being in the prep rooms and other places attendees weren’t supposed to be.
There is very little “they” going on inside Microsoft from what I could see. Any company, large or small, has the us vs. them problem by the nature of the way things are. The split second you have an org chart or hierarchy, you start the process of us vs. them. Obviously, I didn’t probe deep else somebody with a pulse said, say are you actually with the company, so 90% of this is overheard conversations and observations. Over and over again, I heard “they liked it”, “did you see this kid’s idea for us”, “I’m going to the BOF, should be cool”, and lots more. More importantly, on the stupid stuff, people were feeling the pain and really making an attempt.
Without trying to go off sides here, let me give you one example. After a session on Visual Studio, somebody came up to the presenter and mentioned some little annoyance that, well is actually kinda dumb. Afterwards, the presenter started a conversation with another MSFT type and got the how’d it go. After the usual banter, this snippet was interesting:
Presenter: A customer came up and mentioned xxxxx. Shit, I gotta figure out how to fix this, like now.
Other MS: Dude that’s a super nit, don’t get so upset, it will get dealt with.
Presenter: Dude, trust me, this customer will blog the shit out of this nit because he is right. So, it’s a nit, I fix, and he blogs he got listened to. Beats the alternative.
They say Dude a lot. I think that’s some new code word. On a more serious note, they get it. You could wander all over and pulse check the place. Having done these events before and lived to tell the tale, it is a different place and, well, the line folks get it. Lots of biz cards were handed out and lots of MS people said, check out my blog for this or that to the customers.
They get it and while every company has, or probably needs a mini-microsoft, it is not the critical pulse check you should use for making many determinations about Microsoft and the employees.
That’s a feedback loop, coupled to pro-active behaviour. It’s gold! That’s also what happens when you put the people building products in front of the people using products. Do it. Don’t just put your sales people in front of the customer.