Microsoft Steve Ballmer’s latest labyrinthine reorg doomed by contradictions

“Microsoft unveiled a long-awaited new strategy [yesterday] in a public document titled ‘Transforming Our Company’ and an all hands e-mail ‘One Microsoft.’ In what is supposed to be a forward-looking, clean-sheet approach, the software giant ironically opened its transformation memo by reminding everyone how old it is, a child of the ’80s,” Mark Rogowsky writes for Forbes. “In that context, it’s less surprising that the company’s plan took more than 3,000 words to lay out, is laden with contradictions and contains an old-school ‘reorganization.’ Oh and it has almost no chance to work.”

Rogowsky writes, “Microsoft admits that it isn’t there, but would like you to believe it can deliver: ‘One experience, one company, one set of learnings, one set of apps, and one personal library of entertainment, photos and information everywhere.’ What they mean here is that the new UI they don’t want you calling ‘Metro’ appears more or less everywhere, from Xbox, to phones, to Windows 8. What’s left unsaid is that apps don’t run across those platforms unless developers write them over and over — even the tablet OSes aren’t compatible. What’s ignored is that Windows users in corporations will be on Windows 7 for years to come (more than 1/3 still use XP [released in 2001]).”

“Perhaps more troubling than all this is to effect change, the company is reshuffling the executive chairs without really changing anything,” Rogowsky writes. “Everyone now needs to collaborate more, says CEO Steve Ballmer, and things will be organized more around function, less around product. In theory, this stuff helps; in practice, it will take a couple of years for it all to shake out. That’s time that could be spent building and innovating but will instead be spent ‘re-orging.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Microsoft had a chance to preserve one of their cash cows by making Office for iOS and Android. That window of opportunity is closing, if it hasn’t already.

The world has or soon will realize that, no, actually you do not need Microsoft Office to word process or create spreadsheets and presentations.

The failure to create Office for iOS and Android in a misguided push to sell tablets and phones running Microsoft OSes will be looked at as one of, if not the, biggest mistake Microsoft made during their ill-fated attempt to recover after being repeatedly, unmercifully steamrolled by Apple’s Steve Jobs with the iPhone, iPad, iCloud, App Store and the rest of the formidable iOS ecosystem.

Hoist! May Steve Ballmer remain Microsoft CEO for as long as it takes!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Thumper” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Ballmer tightens death grip on Microsoft with major revamp – July 12, 2013
Steve Ballmer’s Jobsian ‘vision’ is for Microsoft to work like Apple – July 12, 2013
Microsoft is the new Apple – July 12, 2013
Steve Ballmer’s reorganization email: ‘One Strategy, One Microsoft’ or something – July 11, 2013
Captain Ballmer working hard on rearranging S.S. Microsoft’s deck chairs yet again – June 3, 2013
Microsoft said to again reorganize marketing operations; may include hundreds of job cuts – February 1, 2012
Ballmer rearranges the deck chairs again; seeks to get engineers into executive ranks – February 8, 2011
Microsoft rearranges the deck chairs again; reorgs cellphone, games division – May 25, 2010
Microsoft rearranges the deck chairs – February 15, 2008

22 Comments

  1. Reorganization is NOT a strategy. Mistake #1.

    Ballmer’s memo is equivalent to an Infantry platoon leader giving a 30-minute operations order for “taking that hill,” where he explains how he going to re-organize the platoon from four squads into three squads. Reorganization is NOT a strategy.

    1. Reorganization can indeed be part of a strategy, though admittedly not the strategy in and of itself, mainly because on the face of it it lacks a goal.

      Now, if Ballmer is reorganizing Microsoft in concert with other changes, who knows?

      Now, if he’s reorganizing things to create the appearance of a strategy…then that’s a problem.

      1. Reorganization can be a means by which to implement a strategy, assuming another reorganization is really needed. It seems like this effort is merely change for the sake of change, and there is nothing NEW to warrant the change. Ballmer maybe be hoping that the change will lead to the creation of an ACTUAL viable strategy. Hope is not a strategy either.

        Microsoft’s primary strategy during the Ballmer era has been to see what Apple does, react, throw money and resources at copying, and release something two or three years too late.

        That actually IS a strategy, but not a very good one. The only time it really worked was for Windows 95, when Gates was in charge. That was TEN years late (after the Mac release), but Apple was in such a mess itself that Microsoft actually succeeded.

  2. As I ever rant: The most certain way to kill a company is to let marketing run the management. I call this horror ‘Marketing-As-Management’. If Microsoft can’t get the clue and boot their marketing manager CEO out of office, boohoo on them. It couldn’t happen to a more detrimental company within the computing community.

    I don’t know if this is a death throw. But it certainly is ENTIRELY typical of Marketing-As-Management. I got to watch this craptastic process in minute detail at Eastman Kodak. I watched the company reorganize every bizarro year I worked with them. Déja vu all over again.

    If you’re currently working for Microsoft and perceive you have valuable skills to offer the world: Get the hell out now before your brain is destroyed by the craziness. That’s my best advice. It’s not worth the money if you end up being a casualty.

  3. > Microsoft had a chance to preserve one of their cash cows by making Office for iOS and Android.

    Microsoft technically did not even make Office available for Windows 8. It’s there, but it uses the “desktop” interface (even the RT version). If one part of Microsoft can’t be bothered to work with another part of Microsoft, to fully support their own platforms, how can they even consider supporting the competing platforms?

  4. “Steamrolled” is a very nice, SFW word to describe what Steve Jobs/Apple/iOS have done to Microsoft the last new years.

    Would love to know what the makeup of the MS board is. How they can continue allowing that Clown to run the show suggests a certain…lack of checks and balances…

  5. The Ballmer Memo reminds me of Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man. Hill believed that everyone in his band would succeed by using “The Think System.” In order to perform great music, all one needed to do was to “think” the notes, not actually play his or her instrument. It didn’t work and eventually Professor Hill was run out of town as a fraud. Thinking a great organization and thinking great products – Ballmer will be run out also.

  6. They say the sea turns so dark that
    You know it’s time, you see the sign
    They say the point demons guard is
    An ocean grave, for all the brave,
    Was it you that said, “How long, how long,
    How long to the point of know return?”

  7. Microsoft leadership—CEO Steve Ballmer and Chairman Bill Gates and their puppets—are fixated on Windows everywhere. It made them all rich and continues to hog market share. They have armies of thralls in corporate IT ranks, and OEMs dependent on them for oxygen. They persist in believing that the old ways will prevail, once they have countered the challenges of the presumptuous upstarts. I keep thinking about the Persians and the Greeks, for some reason.

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