I’ve recently read “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella, the person who managed to “turn the ship around” at Microsoft when he took the role of the 3rd CEO in the company’s history after what seemed to be a downward spiral for one of the most iconic tech companies in the world. And I say iconic from a very subjective perspective: I’ve started my career as one of the developers on the Microsoft’s platform and at one point in time, I was very evangelistic about it.
And I am a fan of the autobiography/biography literary genre and I enjoy reading about people from the first person perspective. Other titles that I’ve enjoyed and
I will focus on some of the aspects of his book that I relate with and will skip on other parts that are more specific to Microsoft, like the last chapters describing AI , ethics , economic growth
The book starts as a bildungsroman with Satya explaining his journey from his humble beginnings in India to arriving in the United States and his career growth inside the company based on empathy, curiosity and continuous learning that led him to the CEO role. It’a journey of formation. This resonated with me on a deep level. I think of myself as being on a similar path of discovery, not completely in parallel with his path think about it more like a sine function graph that intersects the x-axes: we have some similarities and intersect at some points.
This part is essential in explaining his strategy and tactics to drive change within Microsoft. Leadership style is deeply personal imbued with oneself personality type, mindset
I want to do a side note on this idea of empathy as I have my own opinion on this. Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings of another person and to place oneself in another’s position. For Satya and
In my opinion, I would frame this as actionable empathy which better translates to compassion, doing everything within your power to help, take action on the feelings related through empathy.
The book continues with describing the mission change for Microsoft and tactics around changing the organizational culture. The latter is also something that I am also passionate about and working in a digital services company allows me to be right in the middle of our client’s organizational transformation.
A whole chapter is dedicated to mindset
I would want to expand more in a separate post on this book and the idea of learning organizations, learning leaders and personal growth but because it’s an essential part of Hit Refresh, I will make some notes around this here as well.
Organizations have been traditionally talent focused and hiring was done for skills required exactly for the specific role. Being successful in this kind of organization meant that you had to be the expert in one field and managers were incentivizing expertise over ability to learn. What this ultimately turned out into was organizations with a very fixed mindset, slow to adapt to change.
This is where the Agile mindset contradicts this. At an enterprise level, being agile means being able to pivot the whole company with thousands of employees just a like a startup with sub 100. Having leaders that are infinite learners and teams that learn-it all will allow the organization to adapt and pivot with the markets.
As a point of reference to infinite learners, check out the Masters Of Scale podcast episode featuring Barry
In the chapter titled “Friends or Frenemies
I too have started to believe in partnerships after understanding how this transformed Microsoft. And in the digital services industry the competition is fierce but I believe partnering in some situations is essential and could help losing business. I plan on expanding on this idea more with a case study.
The last few chapters look at the future: of technology , of Microsoft and society and they are a good indicator
Closing out the post, I do want to touch on the not so recent anymore acquisition of Github. Others have also said that Github was not profitable and this move does not make immediate sense just for profitability. My interpretation of this acquisition is simple : its a clear message to