Sunday, May 06, 2007

Fractals of Change: Microsoft Memories:

So you’re in there presenting your product plan to billg, steveb, and mikemap.  Billg typically has his eyes closed and he’s rocking back and forth.  He could be asleep; he could be thinking about something else; he could be listening intently to everything you’re saying.  The trouble is all are possible and you don’t know which.  Obviously, you have to present as if he were listening intently even though you know he isn’t looking at the PowerPoint slides you spent so much time on.

At some point in your presentation billg will say “that’s the dumbest fucking idea I’ve heard since I’ve been at Microsoft.”  He looks like he means it.  However, since you knew he was going to say this, you can’t really let it faze you.  Moreover, you can’t afford to look fazed; remember: he’s a bully.

“What do you disagree with, Bill?” you ask as assertively as you can.  He tells you.  Maybe it’s the plan for user interface; maybe it’s the product positioning; maybe it’s the technical approach you’re taking to a problem or your evaluation of the enemy (competition).  If you see that your dead wrong – you may be, he’s very smart – best to admit it immediately and move on.  But, if he’s wrong – which is also often the case – then you CAN’T give in.  You will be just as much blamed for doing the wrong thing because billg told you to as you will be if you did it all on your own.  This is the moment of truth for a Microsoft manager.

3:36 PM