My over 25 years in executive recruitment confirms that it is very difficult to replace any high-level contributor. This is especially true for successful R&D, engineering, scientific, IT, technical or manufacturing organizations. As I shared in previous articles “3 Steps To Internally Recruiting Your Next CEO” and “NBC follows 3-Step Succession Plan In Replacing Jay Leno” all organizations need to follow several important steps to ensure success. Microsoft seems to have done so in replacing Steve Ballmer with Satya Nadella. Furthermore, his initial moves as their new CEO seem have confirmed this.
Immediately, Mr. Nadella began to sketch a powerful, new vision for Microsoft’s future. This stressed online software for work, home and elsewhere instead of Microsoft’s past plan of a computing world with Windows at the center. In one of his first sessions with journalists as the new CEO he said that Microsoft was uniquely positioned to combine the benefits of the cloud with mobile for the over 1.5 billion smartphones, computers and tablets sold each year. To illustrate this strategy he introduced a new version of Microsoft’s popular Office for Apple’s iPad, which his company has been developing for several years. This was symbolic of his stated plan to move Microsoft away from a Windows-first strategy.
He followed this up with new services for companies to manage corporate documents, whether they are using Microsoft or competitor’s devices. This underscores Mr. Nadella’s appreciation of Microsoft’s lost empire. It also epitomizes his push in his first 3 months as CEO to accelerate the spread of Microsoft’s software to the 85% of computing devices not running Windows! These are all important traits that external executive recruiters like myself and internal management recruiters highly value for those replacing high-level contributors.
All too often, companies fail to realize that they have lost momentum in a given category and continue to push failed strategies. Case in point is Wang, which used to be the leader in dedicated word processing machines. They could have easily transitioned into the leader in personal computers with all the expertise they possessed. Unfortunately, they failed to make a strategic shift in a changing market place. Fortunately, Mr. Nadella has come to terms with the market shift away from dedicated personal computers to more mobile devices. As a result, he has put in motion a flurry of changes at Microsoft that will move his company beyond Windows into new areas that will keep it vibrant for years to come.
What are your thoughts?