Category Archives: MS Culture

Silence is Not Golden

Silence is not golden when you’re waiting for a response from your Microsoft contact.

Silence is unnerving – you expect to hear back from your Microsoft contact about your latest question or request, but instead you get silence. Did you do something wrong, ask a forbidden question, or somehow upset your contact?

You’ve encountered an odd bit of MS culture. Microsofties don’t want to say “no”, or admit they cannot help you with your request; instead you get radio silence.

It isn’t actually because the person you’ve contacted “can’t be bothered” – it’s because they know they are not the expert or authority on that specific topic, so they cannot say “yes”.

Somewhere within MS there is an expert or authority who might still say “yes” (if you ever reach them), so the person you’ve contacted also cannot tell you “no”.

Nor can they afford to spend the time to track down the expert (see Stack Ranking Hurts Partners Too).

They can’t say “yes” and they can’t say “no” – with no constructive response possible, Microsofties go radio silent. Continue reading

Stack Ranking Hurts Partners Too

Vanity Fair cover image of Steve Ballmer

Vanity Fair: Microsoft’s Lost Decade

Microsoft’s stack ranking process received some high-visibility attention in Vanity Fair’s article, “Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled a Tech Giant”. You’ve probably already read the article, but also check out the knowledgeable commentary by Todd Bishop here and here, and by Mary Jo Foley here. Information is power, the more you know, the better you’ll understand how Microsoft operates (and perhaps why).

The article focuses (likely too much) on the impact stack ranking has had on Microsoft itself, but there’s an unwelcome side effect on partners as well – any time a MS employee spends on activities not on their objectives is time not spent achieving their objectives; and that will cost them come review time.

For partners, that means the only people at MS who are likely to invest time on your behalf, including even acknowledging your request, are those whose objectives include providing that response. Most people at MS will completely ignore your request; they’re laser focused on achieving their objectives (also known as “commitments”).

You need to find “the right person”, whose objectives align with your interests – the time that person spends working with you should fulfill their objectives and improve their performance review. Continue reading