Ramblings from another nerd on the grid
Do you ever look to the past to see what the future holds? You should. I cut my computer teeth long before most people. My computer heritage goes back to my diapers. Dear Dad was a career IBMer and I was playing with IBM Selectric typewriters and dictaphones long before most people had ever seen Lotus 1-2-3. During a recent discussion with Rodney Clark, a rising Microsoft executive and the leader of my org, I found out he and I have very similar roots in that regard. His Dad was also a career IBMer. We both have technology in our genes.
The passion for technology was ingrained in me at a very early age. Hugh MacLeod talks about the rebirth of Microsoft in "The Microsoft Question" blog post and why he keeps an eye on us. He makes a lot of good points and gives the "Scoble Effect" a lot of credit. I think the core for a lot of the rebirth he describes is passion.
Have you ever seen Steve Ballmer on stage talking to Microsoft employees at our annual sales and technical pilgrimage? Talk about passion. His passion is strong enough to focus the troops in a direction, for months. When you watch the channel9.msdn.com videos produced by Scoble, Charles and Rory, you see passionate Microsoft people.
Successful companies hire passionate people. Passion also means not resting on your laurels.
So back to my original question... Do you look back? Should successful companies and people look back? I think they should. It's especially refreshing to look back at the progress that's been made over the past 15-20 years. Just look at Windows. See the history of Windows at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/WinHistoryDesktop.mspx. While you are at it, take a look at the Internet Explorer history. Some would say IE helped Microsoft rise from the ashes.
When I rewind, I think about Windows 3.x and the integration work I used to do with the Novell Netware 3.x of that era. Anyone remember Network Courier or Microsoft Mail? I still remember running my first COBOL compile with Microfocus COBOL on a personal computer. I was in heaven. Sure beats a 3270 emulator and CA Abendaide.
Last week I was in Las Vegas. We had just announced Microsoft Office 2007 had RTM'd and I knew the Windows Vista announcement would be coming soon. I am totally energized about all of this and had an absolute blast demonstrating the products. I was also working with some other Microsoft veterans of plus ten years. All of the veterans were super stoked. New products will do that.
Interesting enough, almost as soon as we announced the Windows Vista RTM, my brain had already placed the check mark next to Windows Vista and was on to what's next... Exchange Server 2007, Longhorn Server, Virtualization management, network management, etc.
Are great companies reborn? Or do they hire passionate people who want to change the world? Are passionate people ever satisfied? Is Microsoft done? What else is left to do? I think the answer is obvious...
The glass is 10% full.
Hey stranger...don't ask how I came across your blog...
I do think great companies have to go through, in fact, numerous cycles of being "reborn". Things change - customer demands change - technology changes. You - as a company - have to be flexible enough to invest more in the current good and ditch the bad.
As a employee it is even more critical. We all know engineers who have be "left behind". Good companies hire & keep passionate employees - and I do think that some are never satisfied. Is that not a good thing? I think as long as you can corral the employee and give them there space to purse the passion - very little bad can come from that.
See? More passion and optimism...