Tag Archives: corporate culture

close up of broken control key on keyboard

Microsoft Needs To Get Moving Or It Could Get Lost

If you’ve been following the chatter among the techno-literati, it’s become almost fashionable to predict Microsoft’s demise. We see headlines like: “The Odds are Increasing that Microsoft’s Business Will Collapse.” At first blush that seems ludicrous to me. But could there be some truth to it?

Not so long ago, Microsoft seemed unassailable. Even now, the Windows operating system exceeds 90 percent market share. Internet Explorer owns 60 percent of the browser market. And Office — where Microsoft really makes its money — still owns over 95 percent of its market.

But Microsoft has become synonymous with “slow” and “stodgy.” Which brings to mind a possible precedent: IBM. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, IBM was by far the dominant player in the computing world. It felt like they had invented the category and they certainly were a marketing juggernaut. IBM was so dominant that there was a well-known catch phrase that went, “no-one ever lost their job choosing IBM.” In fact, it was more than a catch phrase. It was the commonly accepted wisdom.

But by the early 1990s IBM was in crisis. The world around had changed and they’d been unable to keep up. There was speculation that they wouldn’t be able to survive. They did, by radically changing their strategy to one that is largely based on services. Now they’re still huge and successful. But also largely irrelevant.

Could the same thing happen to Microsoft? In the late ‘90s I did some work with them. They were top dog but acted like they were running scared. They said it was an essential part of their corporate culture and was critical to them remaining on top. But now I can say from personal experience that the healthy paranoia is completely gone, replaced with an attitude that Microsoft can’t truly be threatened. The only thing that truly matters is hitting the numbers that determine your annual bonus, and it’s OK to do that at the expense of other parts of the organization.

Now, I don’t believe for a second that there isn’t a level of paranoia building at the highest levels of Microsoft. But it’s going to be a massive undertaking to do at Microsoft what Steve Jobs was able to do at Apple, meaning completely turn the company around. Microsoft’s incredible financial strength gives them a lot of breathing room, but without wrenching changes, they’re in danger of becoming just another IBM. Huge. Successful. And irrelevant.

visual workspace

Office Designs Can Spark Employee Creativity

We have all seen, or at least heard about, “off-the-charts” office design that is not only cool, but also inspires its work force. Companies such as Google, Pixar, Herman Miller, Red Bull, and even one blogger in her vintage trailer, have been recognized for their creativity in the workplace. These companies have shown us that designing an office that is “cool” is about embracing your company culture and projecting a contagious attitude.

Your corporate culture says a lot about the way your office should look and function. What do you want to project? What are your core values? What kind of clients do you want to attract? Cool office design is more than a flat panel TV and retro furniture in your lobby. It’s your company’s essence — its physical presence. And we all know what they say about first impressions.

Creating spaces that keep employees engaged and that support the way they live, work and play will stimulate productivity and result in a much happier staff. This will naturally lead to higher client satisfaction and greater return on your investment. So, how do you get started?

Keep in mind a few simple starting points:
Involve everyone in the office in a brainstorming session. What are employees looking for from their workspace? How do they want it to feel and function? Is privacy important? What do your employees wish for in their environment? Choose a point of contact to champion these ideas with your interior designer.

Be flexible, because it is the key to planning a successful work environment. Allowing people to have choices and variety in the way they work and collaborate enhances the experience of the workplace.

Provide opportunities for impromptu meeting and spaces that allow workers to get away from the monotony of sitting at their desks all day.

A connection to nature is an important factor in productivity. People need to be able to see the blue sky, get fresh air and soak up the sun. Oftentimes, we see offices that block the view by installing opaque high panels and storage above eye level, creating depressing “cubicle farms.”

Don’t forget about public and common areas. There are endless opportunities to bring out your company’s brand, culture and differentiation. These spaces also offer a place to relieve stress and to get away from the daily grind.

Creating a cool office in hot Arizona is not as difficult (or as expensive) as it may seem. It all revolves around defining who you are and having fun with it. You’ll know that you’ve achieved “office nirvana” when your clients start asking to have their meetings in your office.