100 Things Project Managers Must Do Before They Die by vad49754


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									                 The 12 Simple Secrets of Microsoft Management
                                  David Thielen
Key Points of Each Chapter:
   1. Total World Domination: Go for 100% of every market you are in. Market
      Share is everything
   2. Top 5%: Hire the smartest people around. Smart employees are your
      best asset
   3. Bet the Company: Put your heart and soul into every project as if the
      entire company relied upon your success to survive
   4. Require Failure: If you take a risk you might fail. If you don’t take risks
      you won’t succeed. Take bold risks, not reckless risks
   5. Managers Are Qualified: Managers can only make good decisions if they
      are qualified to do the work their subordinates do because they
      understand it well.
   6. Perform, Perform, Perform: The only thing that matters is the result.
      Focus on doing the best, being the best and performing the best
   7. “Shrimp vs Weenies”: Don’t waste money on irrelevancies. By
      conserving resources you can actually increase productivity
   8. Size Does Matter: Big is bad. Small teams that “own” their project work
      better and achieve better results
   9. Bill Is Watching: CEOs and top level management must have an
      excellent knowledge of what the major problems are so that there are no
   10. Esprit de Corps: Excellent morale produces much better workers – a
      product can be superior merely because the people who made it enjoyed
      doing it
   11. Stop the Insanity: Don’t waste employees time and company resources
      on irrelevant rules, processes etc. Believe that employees are smart
      enough to make reasonable decisions
   12. Home Away From Home: Design the work environment to emulate a
      home environment – if the workers are comfortable they will perform better

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Summary of Each Chapter

Introduction: Feel the Energy
    Microsoft’s management style is its core strength
    Companies either evolve or die – if they are too slow to react, then they will
     be devoured by other companies
    The company needs to be vibrant and alive in order to succeed

1) Total World Domination
Microsoft is going after 100% of every market that it is in
              -   Nike Maples when he was executive vice president
    Every employee at Microsoft has the same aim: to give Microsoft 100%
     market share in every market that it is involved in – Total World Domination
    You have to ask yourself and all employees, “What are you doing to
     increase market share?”
    Don’t be satisfied with the safe option and the secure option. Risking profits
     to increase market share can be well worth it: losing profits only threatens
     security, but gaining market share shows who won (ie: destroy the
    Recklessness can destroy a company just as quickly as caution. Encourage
     the bold, not the reckless.
    Hire type A people who are driven by conquest, not by security
    Go after a market with the view to dominate it because owning a strategic
     market gives you a cash cow.
    Lead by example: make a learning situation out of an employee’s mistake if
     it was a genuine mistake. Ask for direct reports on a daily and then weekly

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2) The Top 5 Percent
   The single most important contributor to productivity is the quality of the
    employees: Hire only the very best people.
   No matter how good the manager is, if the employees do not have talent,
    the team will not win
   The best managers are the ones that do the least damage to the teams they
    have working for them
   It is irrelevant what your perception of the quality of your employees is, what
    matter is what the level of quality truly is
   A company cannot thrive without excellent employees
   Microsoft only hires those who are in the smartest 5%: how smart that is
    depends on the job.
   “Smarts” is the ability to turn the brain on and think. A worker with smarts
    will catch errors sooner, come up with more efficient ways of doing
    something and save time, effort and the company’s money
   Rather than hire from the second top 5%, Microsoft chose to limit the
    expansion of R&D
   Interviews at Microsoft are done by the group doing the hiring
   The entire purpose of interviewing candidates is to push the candidate in
    every direction until he fails. By doing this it is possible to learn exactly what
    they are and are not able of contributing
   A new employee should raise the mean of the team
   Employers should be concerned about how the new employee will perform,
    rather than concerned about management
   The employee needs to be committed to the common goal. Contractors do
    not have a meaningful relationship with the company that hired them and
    temps are not going to be in the top 5% or even top 10% of smart people.
   Hiring the right person is the most critical decision that a manager makes:
    No matter how desperate you are to fill a position, do not compromise.
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3) Bet the Company
   Very few companies are willing to bet their future unless they have no
   After capturing an island, Vikings used to burn their boats to show that they
    have made a commitment and that defeat is not an option
   Microsoft tries to kill their own products for two reasons:
    1.        If Microsoft doesn’t, someone else will;
    2.        To force a paradigm shift and cause confusion which creates
   You must be able to see that there is going to be a change, embrace it and
    restructure your plans around the change – don’t be afraid of the change or
    try to maintain the status quo because the losers are the ones who fight to
    maintain the old way of doing things
   If you are not willing to make bets at good odds, then you can’t win
   You must be able to react quickly: don’t wait until someone else makes your
    product obsolete, do that yourself
   Not making the bet can cost you the market and is often not the safe option

4) Require Failure
   SNAFU stands for: Situation Normal All Fouled Up: a company that is
    capable of responding to rapidly changing market will aspire to do better
    and often will.
   Failures, as long as they are not excessively stupid, should be expected and
    forgotten: you can’t expect people to be perfect and not ever make mistakes
   Identify failure as quickly as possible
   No failure is unacceptable – it means that people are not trying hard
    enough, they aren’t pushing the envelope
   If you can predict failure, then do not proceed with the project – change path
    and try something new (logical but often ignored advice)
   It is critical that you understand why failure occurred

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   If (reasonable) failure is seen to be a result of attempting to succeed, and
    employees are rewarded substantially for success, then it stands to reason
    that employees will risk failure in the pursuit of a successful outcome.
   In this environment, while you experience more failures, you will also
    experience more successes.
   Have a post-mortem discussion about the project: discuss what went wrong
    and what could have been done better to figure out how to improve for next
    time. These sessions are not meant to be judgements on individuals and
    thus encourages the team members to dissect their efforts and critically
    review them
   Report problems immediately: recognise that the problem may exist,
    determine what is being done to research it and when you will know how
    serious the problem is and suggest solutions to the problem.
   Managers should not get upset when they are faced with bad news because
    then no bad news will be delivered to them and they will not have a true
    picture of how the project is developing (thank the messenger, don’t shoot
   Push decision making down. Put the power in the hands of the employees
    because they are the ones who deal with the project daily, not upper
    management. Decisions for upper management are reserved for “Big
    Picture” issues (i.e.: how it will affect the rest of the company), not “Local”
    issues (i.e.: how it will affect the rest of the team/project etc).
   Because employees at Microsoft believe in their product, they will fight for
    what they believe to be correct and have no compunction about disagreeing
    with management
   Because employees have the power to make almost any decision relating to
    the work they are responsible for, decisions can and are made quickly (they
    never leave decisions pending until the next meeting)
   There must be a free flow of information so that people can make good

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5) Managers are Qualified
   Managers should understand the work that the people who report to them
    do eg: managers of programming teams are, themselves, excellent
    programmers and the people managing the marketing teams are marketers.
   Managers who do not understand what the people who they are responsible
    for are doing cannot be effective in their position for a number of reasons:
         -      They will not earn respect from subordinates
         -      How can they make decisions on issues that they don’t
         -      How can they understand the status of their group if they are
                susceptible to being blinded by smoke and mirrors?
   The primary qualification for managers at Microsoft is their expertise in a
    particular field. Other management talents are taken into account but are
    not the focus of the decision to promote someone to a management
   Don’t promote people to management just because “they look the part”
   Management positions and promotions at Microsoft do not go to those who
    have been there the longest and who are next in line, but to the best
    available person for the job. This a “Darwinian” environment where the
    effective managers are promoted and ineffective ones are demoted or “sent
    on a permanent sabbatical”. This selection process encourages people to
    do the best job that they can (competition produces productive workers).

6) Perform, Perform, Perform
   At Microsoft, those who perform today cannot rest on their laurels because
    someone who is not resting will pass them by. Those who burnout on a job
    will be replaced because they will no longer be of use to the company
   The result of this heartless approach is that employees are constantly
    challenged to do the best job possible – the company is looking at what you
    are doing NOW and not what you have done in the past
   Excuses slow down problem solving. Solutions are required, not excuses

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   If a product is not being shipped, then all the excuses in the world will not
    ship it, if a marketing campaign is failing then excuses won’t fix it. The only
    critical question is: What is going to be done to fix the problem?
   This may be unfair, but Microsoft is not concerned with fairness but with
    success. All that matters is winning.
   Discomfort with being measured on success usually stems from the fact
    they those people are not successful. This success oriented environment
    self-selects employees
   In order to succeed you have to fail. An employee’s rating is based on
    accomplishment. If the project is a failure then that will affect the employee’s
    rating negatively but, because it can occasionally be expected, it is not a
    permanent black mark on the person’s record (unless failure is continuous).
    It is just a measure of the work the employee most recently completed
   People are not judged by whether the project that they were involved in
    failed or not, but how they performed within their scope of responsibility.
   How you look or talk is largely irrelevant. It’s how you perform.
   Comparing yourself to your co-workers and trying to be as good as them, or
    better, can drive employees to substantially improve
   Work smarter, work harder, innovate more
   The choice is not how to do as little as possible, but rather to do as
    spectacular a job as possible
   Just because one person or team has completed their specific role, it
    doesn’t mean that the job is done. People take ownership of the entire
    project and, with Microsoft, the project isn’t complete until it has been
   People will not fight or die for imposed goals, but if they helped to create the
    goals they will eg: the schedules for release of products must be run by the
    employees at Microsoft before being implemented.
   Figure out the fastest way that a job can be done and shoot for that

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    3 key components that make employees at Microsoft want to perform at an
     optimal level:
    1. The work is largely exciting and interesting. They enjoy what they are
    2. Their value is measured by performance. Better performance = success
       and reward
    3. Peer pressure keeps people performing. You cannot stand high in your
       peer’s eyes unless you do an excellent job.
    There is a downside: employees are wrapped up in their jobs, the success
     of the group and the company. So if they see that something the company is
     doing is stupid or wrong or is a bad move, they will tell their managers.
    Employee concerns must be directly addressed and CEOs and high level
     management must be responsive to employee concerns

7) Shrimp vs Weenies
    Microsoft has maintained a “penny pinching” philosophy: buy weenies
     (sausages) not shrimp
    There are no special parking spaces, no larger offices (only regular and
     double) and Bill gates flies economy class (because then everybody else
     has to)
    Just because Microsoft has billions of dollars to spend, it remains frugal to
     stop unnecessary spending which slows down the company which makes it
    Lack of bureaucracy lowers costs
    There are no secretaries at Microsoft. Bill Gates does his own typing and
     reads and responds to his own e-mails (He has an Admin. Assistant who
     keep the groups running and who are empowered to make a substantial
     number of decisions on their own). Artificial layers have been eliminated.
    Not keeping “dead wood” and obsolete employees, no matter how long they
     have been with the company, is ruthless but economically efficient.

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    8) Size Does Matter
    The major functions at Microsoft are creating, testing, marketing and selling
     software. These functions are performed seperately for each and every
     project. This is because Microsoft wants to maintain that vibrant “small-
     company” feel and not become a stagnant large corporation
    The same methods of creating, testing, marketing and selling are not the
     same for all projects
    The process is established by the group and it is therefore most likely to be
    Some elements are “monolithic” eg: mail, phones, Microsoft Internal
     Services etc. Every one of these services could be handled by an outside
     company and Microsoft would be the same company that it is now
    Where the company meets the public you will find a single organisation
    Wherever possible, the work be kept at the project level
    While each project has its own destiny, it must be part of the company’s
     overall direction. Bill Gates and senior executives always know what is
     happening within the company and all projects, marketing etc must be
     approved by them first so that it fits in with the direction of the company
    Group members will pass on what has worked for them to other groups and
     thus share information throughout the company
    Sometimes groups work together to solve problems (such as a common
     user interface for all Microsoft applications
    You can’t have separate business units that are still controlled by the central
     authority who directs each specific unit, you have to have separate business
     units that are able to make most of the decisions on their own within the
     framework of the big picture

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9) Bill Is Watching
   Bill Gates’ philosophy, approach and strategic vision permeates the entire
    company. If you don’t like it, leave.
   Project managers send regular reports to Bill about the status of their
    projects – the reports must state the current status of the project and the
    problems that it faces. This ensures that Bill knows what is happening and
    will not be surprised by sudden problems that spring up
   Upper management must have an excellent idea of what is going on in their
   There is pressure from above to fix the problems and they encourage this
    by providing real support
   Bill Gates has a half hour meeting with each VP once a week so that he can
    gain a very clear understanding of what each department is up to. Because
    these meetings are regular (weekly) Bill doesn’t have to be constantly
    updated on the situation, he is aware of it from last week and the meeting
    can focus on real day to day problem solving
   There is an annual meeting every year for Microsoft employees that
    includes entertainment as well as business. The idea is to keep all 25,000
    employees informed about what is going on in the company and the
    direction that it is taking
   Bill often listens to presentations by project managers. He quizzes them
    endlessly on technical points and non-technical issues. The project
    manager is expected to either know everything about the project (to the
    finest detail) or bring along those who can answer the questions. This
    means that there will be no glossing over issues or “feeding upper
    management a line” – BILL WANTS TO KNOW
   Bill Gates often walks among the workers to see first hand how the project
    is progressing. By talking to the workers, he gains a good understanding
    about what is going on with that project – other management staff do the
    same thing

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   Management must give workers the freedom to create and work properly,
    but must at the same time be very aware of the problems within and status
    of the project

10) Esprit de Corps
   True esprit de corps is found among small groups of highly trained and
    highly motivated individuals
   People don’t knock themselves out for things they do not have ownership of.
    Give workers a sense of ownership and they will try harder
   Give workers freedom to make decisions and they usually come through
    with the goods because they are directly involved in the project and they are
    responsible for its outcome
   Keep employees focused on one task or project so that they don’t get
    distracted – employees can eat, live and sleep their project. Focus enables
   Assign a team to a project and keep them on the team even if they are not
    needed for a part of it. This tells them that they are truly part of the team,
    they are important and they won’t be looking out for something else and get
    distracted by what might be. They remain focused and committed to the
   Meetings and retreats are important for teams to bond together and feel as
    one. Entertainment at Microsoft retreats is essential so that the people
    remain energised and, more importantly, are able to laugh together
   Humour is essential in the workplace. People should have fun at work and
    thus keep them interested in what they are doing. They must enjoy their
    time in the workplace
   Awards are good as a motivational exercise, but they are limited in that
    once an award is received, the recipient may think that the job is completed
    and no additional effort is required
   Stock options and a good salary are also motivational tools but if the work
    environment is not an enjoyable one, then they will not be productive

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   Each company needs to find its own way to boost morale and esprit de
    corps (eg: a downtown law firm cannot have nerf-ball wars in the corridors
    because clients just wouldn’t understand!)

11) Stop the Insanity
   Don’t waste time and money on stupid things such as 4 page memos about
    the correct way to wear your security badge or rules about every
    conceivable situation an employee might face. Assume your employees are
    smart enough to make reasonable decisions
   Only hold meetings that are necessary. If you don’t need the meeting, then
    don’t have it just because it is Monday morning and you always have a
    meeting on Monday morning
   Hallway meetings between key members of teams often solve many
   Keep your meetings focused and make sure that a decision is reached
    before the end of the meeting (don’t leave decisions hanging if possible)
   Disseminate information – share as much information as possible among all
    work groups. Information is power – but only if it can benefit the company
    and that is done by sharing that information with those who could make
    good use of it
   Insincerity wastes time and effort. Be sincere, direct and mean what you
    say. By following these rules, you focus more on the work and less on trying
    to fool your subordinates into thinking that their ideas are good when they
    are not or that you like their style, when it is clear that they don’t fit in
   Companies should have people working there who want to get the work
    done – not smooth talkers
   Volvo executives are given a free car which is serviced for them and
    upgraded every year or two. They have no concept of how the consumer
    feels about the car (same car for 5-8 years, regular servicing,
    inconveniences etc). If you produce a product make sure that you use it
    regularly prior to releasing it to the public. You will know how the users will

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    implement the product and you will have an understanding of the
    consumers’ gripes
   Everybody who is involved in the producing the software must use it so that
    there are no misunderstandings about how ready the product is for shipping
   Products are shipped with bugs. You can improve products until the cows
    come home, but it has to get to the consumer otherwise it is useless
    producing it!
   Don’t make something a regulation if it is not going to be followed! Make
    rules few and far between and the ones that are there must make sense

12) Home Away From Home
   Look to the home environment for inspiration in designing an office
    environment – the home is supposed to be the most comfortable place so
    why shouldn’t the work environment use some of the principles?
   Have offices, not cubicles. Cubicles are demeaning and send a negative
    message to the employees (the boss doesn’t care how I feel, he is in a large
    office of his own and I am stuck in a 6x4 cubicle – prisoners get larger cells
    than this!)
   At Microsoft, the employees have an office each – identical but with the
    option to decorate it as they like – how they feel more comfortable
   Try to have as many windows as possible. Natural light stimulates thought
    (small buildings usually have more natural light per office than do larger
    ones, so have a series of small offices if possible)
   Dress codes stifle individuality and creativity. It also gives employees
    something else to worry about. Let them walk around bare-footed if it helps
    them to work better
   Free soft drinks, water and coffee help to boost morale but it also makes it
    easier for employees to grab a drink and get back to work – they don’t have
    to waste time yelling at a broken vending machine that gobbled up money.
    Soft drinks and coffee are also excellent pick-me-ups for those late nights at

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    the office – their high sugar content is sometimes necessary to help
    employees get through long hours!
   Keep an open supply room and don’t worry if employees take stationery
    home with them – at Microsoft, they purchase extra stationery at the
    beginning of the school year to accommodate those with kids. The logic is
    that the parents won’t have to waste time worrying about buying stationery
    for their children! This philosophy also eliminates stealing because if
    everything is free, you can’t steal it!
   Employees at Microsoft can work any hours they choose – not a set 8 hours
    a day but any 8 hours, rather any hours at all. If they can achieve the same
    or better than expected results by working only 5 hours a day, then that is
    okay with Microsoft. It’s the results and the work that matters, not the
    amount of time spent on it. Mostly people end up spending more time at
    work rather than less time
   Immediate access to food at Microsoft means that employees don’t have to
    leave the building for lunch. Microsoft has a number of cafeterias that serve
    different types of food and with different themes. This gives the employees
    ample choice and less wasted time travelling to and from outside
    establishments for lunch

Epilogue: Wolf in the Henhouse
   Microsoft has tried to combine the positive aspects of large companies with
    the management styles of small companies
   Although Microsoft is not perfect, it strives to live up to its management
    philosophy on a daily basis
   Microsoft’s products may not be superior to the competition, but its
    management style and philosophy towards employees has made it a strong
    company – one to be reckoned with

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