Steve Ballmer’s Jobsian ‘vision’ is for Microsoft to work like Apple

Steve Ballmer’s latest reorganization of Microsoft “is one long homage to the Apple that Steve Jobs re-created between 1997 and 2011. Everything about the re-org sounds like Ballmer wants Microsoft to behave more like Apple,” Adam Lashinsky writes for Fortune.

“One of the key learnings of my research on Apple over the past five years has been the extraordinary degree to which Apple is organized by function. No other company its size has the audacity to organize this way as opposed to the typical corporation’s divisional structure,” Lashinsky writes. “The two most obvious examples of this are General Electric and, yes, Microsoft. GE’s aircraft and medical divisions are like companies unto themselves. Ditto Microsoft’s Xbox-purveying entertainment division.”

Lashinsky writes, “Steve Jobs hated divisionalization. He hated fiefdoms. He wanted one Apple, one strategy, one brand, one message. Software developers would contribute software across products. Finance would keep the books across product groups. And so on.”

“The under-appreciated part about how difficult this will be for Ballmer and his team to pull off is that taking a unified structural approach to a massive company requires inordinately good leadership,” Lashinsky writes. “The Stanford business professor Charles O’Reilly was adamant with me when I was researching my book that the unusual way Jobs ran Apple would only work for him. It works when a dictatorial, feared, charismatic, respected, multi-talented workhorse like Jobs is able to more or less directly oversee every important facet of the company. It also worked for Apple because Jobs ruthlessly insisted on simplicity. He wanted to attack only a few things at a time—a tremendous virtue for building Apple back from the abyss and for more than a decade after. But the act gets tougher when the company grows gargantuan and, critically, when the all-powerful wizard is gone.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We await Microsoft’s 2014 rearrangement of the deck chairs with bated breath.

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

Related articles:
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

21 Comments

  1. Leadership is critical, but I disagree that SJ was the only man with this talent. There are plenty of brilliant men and women at Microsoft, but Ballmer is not one of them.

    Still… for as long as it takes. 😉

    1. I think that Jobs’ talent actually was unique to him but I do agree that there definitely are talented people at Microsoft. The problem is that the people in control of the company are loathe to use them or their talents. The mediocrity, like shit, rolls from the top down and smothers all innovative thinking.

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