Yesterday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced a massive organizational restructuring of the company. According to the Wall Street Journal, "Microsoft Corp.'s broad reorganization announced Thursday aims to break down internal fiefs that have slowed product development and caused friction among teams of employees... The company said it will shift from largely autonomous product groups to a more horizontal structure, under which managers who will oversee specific kinds of functions like engineering, marketing and finance."
Here are a few quick reactions:
1. The Ballmer memo to the company consisted of more than 2,700 words. Wow! If you need that many words to describe what you are doing and why you are doing it.... do you really have a clear strategy? Will employees really digest all of this material, understand it clearly, and align behind it? First rule of thumb for leader communication: keep it simple & concise. The Ballmer approach falls down on this metric.
2. No organizational structure is optimal. Each structure has its strengths and weaknesses. The key to high performance is driving the right culture, values, and processes in an organization. Just moving lines and boxes around on an organizational chart won't enhance performance substantially. Microsoft will succeed or fail based on how they redesign key processes and shift the culture and values. Boxes and arrows won't be the panacea.
3. One still wonders if Microsoft should remain as an intact entity versus breaking up into several parts. Many investors have wondered if the whole is truly worth more than the sum of the parts. That question still remains after the Ballmer announcement.