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Nadella on Microsoft's culture change: 'Nothing is off the table'

Juan Carlos Perez | July 11, 2014
Microsoft staffers worldwide should buckle their seat belts because a big culture shakeup is in the works at the company.

Microsoft staffers worldwide should buckle their seat belts because a big culture shakeup is in the works at the company.

In a long letter sent to employees on Thursday, CEO Satya Nadella said that he and his lieutenants are taking "important steps to visibly change our culture."

Microsoft has historically had a reputation as being a tough place to work, due to infighting, staff fragmentation and cutthroat office politics. Steve Ballmer, Nadella's predecessor, set in motion his own culture-changing effort, called One Microsoft, shortly before announcing his retirement.

It's not clear from Nadella's letter whether his plan builds on One Microsoft or sets it aside. Whatever the case, Nadella uses strong language to convey the need for the company to function in a more effective way.

He wants to make Microsoft a company where "smart, curious, ambitious people" can do "their best work."

This change in business culture is necessary for Microsoft to accomplish its goal to be the premier "productivity and platform company for the mobile first and cloud first world," serving people in their personal and work lives, he wrote.

"Nothing is off the table in how we think about shifting our culture to deliver on this core strategy. Organizations 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 wrote. "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."

Specifically, Microsoft will "modernize" its engineering processes, so that they're more in tune with customer needs, and are more data driven, faster and more focused on quality, according to Nadella.

The goal is to "reduce the amount of time and energy it takes to get things done" in the engineering team by having fewer people involved in making decisions, and more accountability.

In addition, every engineering group will have "data and applied sciences" resources focused on measuring outcomes for products and predicting future trends, leading, according to Nadella, to better innovation.

Meanwhile, software engineering will evolve to let information travel faster "with fewer breaking points" between envisioning a product or service and delivering it to customers.

Microsoft will increase investments for employee training and development, and will encourage the testing of new ideas and incubation of new projects. It will become easier for employees to change roles within the company.

And Nadella is calling on every team at Microsoft to find ways to simplify the way they function and be faster and more efficient.

 

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