TECH TUESDAY: Culture, empathy, and technology leadership

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who replaced Steve Ballmer in 2014, has the challenge to reinvent a former desktop computer technology innovation leader and find strategic success in a mobile, cloud-based, Internet-connected world. Besides the technical challenges, he recognizes the need to address the company’s culture and revive Microsoft’s innovative mind frame to compete with current technology leaders like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

Having joined Microsoft in 1992, Nadella has seen the company’s fortunes rise dramatically but fall recently as the computing environment dramatically changed without the proper technology and business response from Microsoft’s leadership. Nadella describes his job of CEO as a “curator of culture.” In attempting to transform the culture of Microsoft, he hopes to introduce a refreshed sense of identity and mission to create a learning organization.

In a recent interview shown in the following video, Nadella remembers one lesson from his parents: “that they cared for other people.” Based on this lesson, he hopes to improve in himself this “deeper sense of empathy” and carry it over to his own children. Perhaps the culture of Microsoft, too, would be enhanced by this empathetic approach. As he describes in the interview about what would improve education, it is recognizing and empowering great teachers that’s necessary, not merely delivering the digital technologies in the classrooms for technology sake.

[GeekWire] Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the Tech Alliance

Learn more:

  • [Seattle Times] Microsoft not done reinventing itself, Nadella tells local leaders: “Microsoft was widely criticized during the 2000s as a workplace that some say stifled innovation, contributing to the company’s losses in new markets to the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook. Nadella has tried to engineer a more entrepreneurial, innovative climate.” Read more
  • [Fortune] Microsoft Cloud Stumbles But Company Sees Light Ahead: “The company’s key “intelligent cloud” reporting unit, which incorporates Azure public cloud as well as products that run on-premises like the Windows Server operating system and SQL Server database, saw sales rise 3.3% to $6.1 billion. But profit for the unit fell 14% to $2.19 billion for the quarter.” Read more
  • [Irish Times] Microsoft remodels its workplace methods with aim of retrieving mojo: “Perhaps that’s one of the more curious things about the “new” Microsoft. It’s not all about furthering the Windows platform and shutting out competitors; the company seems happy to get its software to as many users as possible, even if that means helping out their rivals a little in the process.” Read more
  • [Seattle Times] Nadella promotes Microsoft culture that’s unafraid of risks: “Nadella’s trying to instill a culture that encourages employees, from executives to front-line software developers, to not let the fear of failure paralyze them. “In our business, things look like a failure until they’re not,” Nadella said. “It’s pretty binary transitions. So you have to be thick skinned enough, externally [and] internally, to know that you can nurture something.”” Read more
  • [Wired] Microsoft in the Age of Nadella: “Project HoloLens is extremely ambitious, and it’s the first major test of whether Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, can restore the company’s long-dormant reputation for innovation and creativity. Nadella, 48, brings a fresh leadership style to the job, pairing the institutional knowledge he acquired over more than two decades at Microsoft with a collaborative, nice-guy approach to management.” Read more
  • [Vanity Fair] The Empire Reboots: “Whoever does the best job of building the right software experiences to give both organizations and individuals time back so that they can get more out of their time, that’s the core of this company—that’s the soul. That’s what Bill started this company with. That’s the Office franchise. That’s the Windows franchise. We have to re-invent them. . . . That’s where this notion of re-inventing productivity comes from.” Read more

Photo credit:  Satya Nadella, by Official Leweb Photos, Flickr: LE WEB PARIS 2013, CC 2.0

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