Microsoft Stays Ahead of Competition by Leaning Heavily on New Leadership

Microsoft Stays Ahead of Competition by Leaning Heavily on New Leadership

Getting an invite to Microsoft's annual corporate retreat marks years, often decades, of service to the company.

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Getting an invite to Microsoft's annual corporate retreat marks years, often decades, of service to the company. The less than 200 individuals tapped have successfully solved some of the industry's hardest technical challenges while surviving the politics of one of the planet's largest companies. Except in 2014, when Satya Nadella planned his first corporate retreat, there was a major surprise: Some employees invited had been at the company only a fraction of that time, and they often came in with sharply critical views of those who had served much longer.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, feathers were ruffled when Nadella breached the protocol set by Bill Gates and then Steve Ballmer. To those ruffled, Nadella was steadfast: The chief executives of companies recently acquired by Microsoft not only were invited, but were vital to helping Microsoft find its way in the future.

As the Journal reports, Nadella is trying to buy and integrate new insights into a company that has traditionally focused on Borg-like integration into the existing culture:

“We did not get everything right about our culture, especially around learning from others,” Nadella said in an interview. “Otherwise, why would we miss big trends?” New voices from acquisitions adding to Microsoft’s decision-making include Javier Soltero of mobile email and calendar app maker Acompli, Chad Fowler of task-management mobile app Wunderlist and Nat Friedman of Xamarin, a maker of open-source software development tools. These are among the executives from the 36 major acquisitions Mr. Nadella completed in his first 2½ years as CEO—almost triple the 13 Mr. Ballmer made in the previous 2½ years.

Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal (paywall access required).

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