Cook Computing

In Business Mentions Microsoft

January 24, 2006 Written by Charles Cook

Driving home to Yorkshire last Thurday night I listened to In Business on BBC Radio 4. The program was titled "Down with Hierachies", available for download until Thursday, and was about how companies could become more effective by getting rid of corporate hierachies. Not the best edition of the program - it came across a bit like a cut and paste job of material from old programs - but I was amused by an example of how non-technical people can see operating systems when the discussion came round to Microsoft. Ricardo Semler, well known for advocating radically different company structures, got onto the subject of new companies in Silicon valley and said that even they adopt the traditional ways of doing things. Peter Day commented that:

You see that very vividly at Microsoft which is as old-fashioned an organisation from the organisational side of things as its possible to imagine.

Semler added:

...you bought Windows 95, then you bought Windows 2000, then you say it took 20,000 of the smartest people in the world five years to make the difference between that program and this program, and the basic changes are silly, then essentially you realize that once these things are in place they learn how to live the old organisational way and once they do that no innovation comes any more from them.

I somehow don't think Ricardo Semler will be very impressed with Vista and the time it will have taken to get to market, even though there are many good new features.