Hit Refresh

A book by Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

This book seems to start off as a biography, but it’s intent becomes clear by the second chapter, that it’s about the changes Satya brings about in Microsoft, and the anticipation of the future innovations such as Mixed Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and Quantum Computing.

I’ll like to highlight the 2 important lessons I took away from this book

  1. Culture being at the heart of everything
  2. Collaboration brings about greater benefits
  3. Trust that the consumers places in you

Culture


To me, this diagram was the biggest take away of the book.

I’ll like to emphasize that Culture sit inside BOTH Capabilities and Concepts, meaning to say it affects both circles.

We start off with Concepts, which are innovative ideas that we have and we want to implement. This is the result of Culture that support and promotes creative thinking. A Culture that allows and embraces new ideas, and is welcoming to change. A dead culture is one that is not open to change, and resistant to any new ideas.

Next, we have Capabilities. To realize the ideas derived produced in Concepts, we need to have the right Capabilities. The right people, right infrastructure, right processes. If there isn’t the right Capabilities , it can always be built by hiring the right people, setting up the needed infrastructure, and defining proper processes. All these Capability building cannot happen with the right Culture.

At the heart of it all, Culture reigns supreme. There are many definitions of Culture, but my very own short and simple definition is

The Guiding Principles to Solutions

When coming up with a solution to any problem, what are the principles that guide you?

  • If you face an issue of sexual harassment at the work place, what principles do the company policies have to dealing with it: Two strikes, or one strike?
  • If someone writes spaghetti code, what principles do the engineers have to dealing with it: Teach, or reprimand?
  • If engineers feel stagnant, what principles do the managers have: neglect, or constant training?

Culture is not related to just one issue, but to many issues within the company.

Collaboration


In the Information age, it is no longer a Zero-Sum game, where information shared would not lead to a loss of information.

Nadella talks about the various collaborative efforts that Microsoft engaged in, many initially questionable, but paid off in the end. Some of them are:

  • Collaborating with their long standing rival Apple, to develop Microsoft Office applications for MacOS
  • Collaborating with Linux to integrate Linux environment into Windows, and to provide first class support to Linux machines in Azure Cloud
  • Others such as Yahoo and Samsung

Collaboration almost always leads to greater results, but I personally feel we should be wary of who we collaborate with. Collaborating with companies or people who have no value to you ends up being a dead weight. Selective Collaborate should be done, with clear objectives on both sides, and obvious rationales for collaboration.

As mentioned, it is no longer a Zero-Sum game, and we should not be afraid of intermingling of knowledge.

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