Wednesday, 5 February 2014

No man is an island

Microsoft has announced that Satya Nadella is replacing Steve Ballmer as chief executive. This is good news, not least because we have waited so long to hear it. The share price blipped up 1%, indicative perhaps that this was no great surprise. But Microsoft is such an important player in the software market that all eyes will be on Mr Nadella to see how well he performs.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this announcement, however, is that he will have the assistance of Bill Gates as Technology Advisor. Whilst it’s tempting to believe that the people who make the headlines are largely responsible for success, lessons from Microsoft and many more, show that it is the quality of teamwork that make or break a venture. Microsoft’s earliest days were a partnership between Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Their first operating system, DOS, was bought in rather than developed themselves, despite their obvious enthusiasm for software development. They could have had a crack at doing it themselves, but they smartly chose not to.

Whilst rumours abound about the personalities at Microsoft (both Gates and Ballmer have their critics) it’s hard to escape the fact that this is a story of partnerships as well as passions. Microsoft has certainly contributed to the sum of knowledge for great teamwork, and have massively improved standards within their own software development teams. So they have learnt their fair share about getting the best out of teams.

So will this be an inspired move? Gates has the tenacity and technical depth to be of assistance to any CEO. But he is also said to be abrasive and rude. So can he be a team player , as well as being competitive? The cloud and mobile technologies that Microsoft produce are amongst some of the strongest reasons why teams are more important to businesses than ever before. We now live in a world where relationships can now be as strong across oceans as they are across the table. Which is both empowering, as well as daunting. So I’m going to be watching this one with more than a little interest.

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