Microsoft Boss Nadella Readies Staff For Big Changes

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CEO Satya Nadella outlines his vision for Microsoft in the years ahead, and hints at major changes

Staff at Microsoft can expect an interesting period ahead as CEO Satya Nadella promises a major shakeup of both the organisation and culture at the software giant.

Nadella outlined the changes in a memo to staff, and said he will go into greater detail when Microsoft reports its quarterly earnings on 22 July. Some media reports have hinted at job losses.

satya nadella microsoft memo square ishNadella Memo

The memo begins somewhat ominously with a picture of Nadella clenching his fist, and reflecting on the fact that the tech industry does not respect tradition.

“Today I want to synthesize the strategic direction and massive opportunity I’ve been discussing for the past few months and the fundamental cultural changes required to deliver on it,” he wrote, before outlining Microsoft’s ‘worldview’ of people now living in a “mobile-first and cloud-first world.”

“Microsoft has a unique ability to harmonize the world’s devices, apps, docs, data and social networks in digital work and life experiences so that people are at the centre and are empowered to do more and achieve more with what is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity – time!” said Nadella.

Nadella promised that Windows devices and the OS will set the ‘bar for productivity experiences’. “Windows will deliver the most rich and consistent user experience for digital work and life scenarios on screens of all sizes – from phones, tablets and laptops to TVs and giant 82 inch PPI boards,” he wrote.

“Our first-party devices will light up digital work and life. Surface Pro 3 is a great example – it is the world’s best productivity tablet,” he said. “In addition, we will build first-party hardware to stimulate more demand for the entire Windows ecosystem. That means at times we’ll develop new categories like we did with Surface. It also means we will responsibly make the market for Windows Phone, which is our goal with the Nokia devices and services acquisition.”

But Nadella also began to lay the foundations for change at Redmond. This comes almost one year to the day after the last major organisational shakeup at Microsoft in July 2013, when Steve Ballmer announced his ‘One Microsoft Strategy’, shortly before his retirement.

Cultural Changes

“Our ambitions are bold and so must be our desire to change and evolve our culture,” he wrote. “Nothing is off the table in how we think about shifting our culture to deliver on this core strategy. Organisations will change. Mergers and acquisitions will occur. Job responsibilities will evolve. New partnerships will be formed. Tired traditions will be questioned. Our priorities will be adjusted. New skills will be built. New ideas will be heard. New hires will be made.”

“Processes will be simplified,” he warned. “And if you want to thrive at Microsoft and make a world impact, you and your team must add numerous more changes to this list that you will be enthusiastic about driving.”

Nadella also promised to “obsess over our customers,” and said that he would modernise the engineer processes at Microsoft, whilst looking to sales and marketing to showcase Microsoft technology.

He also promised “new investments in our workforce”, including training and personal development, but hinted that staff must be ready to accept changes.

“We will seek to change people’s mindset so they can seamlessly move around the company to roles where you can have the most impact and personal growth,” he wrote, whilst also promising to make Microsoft more efficient.

Job Cuts?

“Finally, every team across Microsoft must find ways to simplify and move faster, more efficiently,” he wrote. “We will increase the fluidity of information and ideas by taking actions to flatten the organisation and develop leaner business processes. Culture change means we will do things differently. Often people think that means everyone other than them. In reality, it means all of us taking a new approach and working together to make Microsoft better.”

“To this end, I’ve asked each member of the Senior Leadership Team to evaluate opportunities to advance their innovation processes and simplify their operations and how they work,” he wrote. “We will share more on this throughout July.”

There are fears that Nadella could be about to announce some job losses at the company. Since its acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, Microsoft now has 127,000 employees worldwide, much more than rivals such as Apple and Google.

The last round of job cuts at Microsoft was back in 2009.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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