Sep 10 2010

RE: Microsoft: Stop the shiny object syndrome

Published by at 7:10 pm under Uncategorized

Following a tweet from @timheuer I found @mossyblog‘s blog it’s a great read and I am sure I will be up late all this weekend reading it. What really got my attention was the fist post I read Microsoft: Stop the shiny object syndrome. it hit home in a big way! I have been gone from Microsoft almost 10 months and as I reflect on my time there I have realized more and more why people in the industry & community are disillusioned with Microsoft. From outside Microsoft it’s hard to understand the behavior of it, unless you have worked for Microsoft you just can never understand the way employees are metriced, evaluated and rewarded.

Year over year every organization and employee gets a set of metrics that they will be measured against for the year. This is a great way to make sure people clearly understand what is expected of them. The problem is twofold with the system:

  1. There is no obligation for an organization in Microsoft to keep the metrics constant at any level.

    The ramification of this is that when the a community gets use to interacting with Microsoft in a particular way the metrics on the organization and employees change and naturally ongoing support become less of a priority and eventually programs will be shutdown. Talk to any Microsoft focused user group leader, they can tell you all the saga that is “community” support from Microsoft.

  2. Employees must “innovate” for maximum reward.

    Achieving metrics just means you did your job to get maximum reward and visibility an employee has to come up with innovations within there role. This means everyone is incentivized do as little as possible to achieve there metrics while creating something new/bright and shiny.

I can see the benefit to Microsoft for this system, management is assured of cretin things will get done and at the same time some new programs may get created that will have impact for Microsoft in some way. By the time any of the new programs start needing real support the innovator will move on and someone else will be responsible for it and guess what happens…

When I took the Developer Evangelist role I was told that the group I worked for was given year or year metrics but there was a longer view of the goals to ensure consistency. I never saw that and as more changes happened at the executive levels that stopped even being a pretence.

Don’t get me wrong I loved my time at Microsoft and the people there are great most people there know the system and know how to work it. If you understand the system you can use it to your advantage if you internal or external but for people who just want to get support for there community from them it can be quite frustrating.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “RE: Microsoft: Stop the shiny object syndrome”

  1. Kent says:

    It’s unfortunate how the guy who maintains a successful program has less worth than the guy who whooshes into a program in trouble makes the quick fix, then whooshes onto another program. Creating shiny objects is just more fun than maintaining them. It’s interesting that MS rewards that. It would be nice to have a metric on the number of disasters that *didn’t* happen on a person’s watch.

    I liked your typo above: "I can see the benefit to Microsoft for this system, management is assured of cretin things will get done…" Unless it was intentional, it changes your meaning in a significant way.

  2. woodyp says:

    Kent, yes that was just a bad type-o but I like the meaning as well so I am not going to fix it ;).