Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer on Thursday encouraged every employee to adopt a new culture and mission of excellence, responsibility, strong values and inclusivity.
In a four-page memo sent to all staff late Thursday, Ballmer said many Microsoft employees felt a disconnect in the way they saw themselves, their mission and motives compared to the way they were portrayed, "but only we can change that," he told them.
The memo was issued after an executive retreat where in-depth discussions were held about the companys mission and values.
It comes at a time when a Washington, D.C., federal judge is considering penalties against the company for antitrust violations and as regulators in Europe are closely scrutinizing the companys products and business practices.
"We developed a strong consensus about our mission going forward and the values that are its foundation. Simply put, our mission is to enable people and businesses throughout the world to realize their full potential," Ballmer wrote.
"Today, we use software to help people get there. Over time, this will evolve to be a combination of software and software services. But our mission is not just about building great technology. Its also about who we are as a company and as individuals, how we manage our business internally, and how we think about and work with partners and customers," Ballmer told staff.
Microsofts pending settlement with the DOJ added new responsibilities for it to deliver upon, he said, adding that by advancing the frontiers of technology and breaking down the barriers holding back demand, "we have an opportunity to help people through software almost every hour they are awake or their business is operating," he said.
Ballmer outlined seven areas that the company needed to prioritize and value:
- Great People with Great Values. Staff needs to be open; with their ideas, thoughts, in receiving input and demonstrating respect for others. "These values must shine through in all our interactions—in our workgroups, across teams, with partners, within our industry, and most of all with customers," Ballmer said.
- Excellence. This has to be at the core of everything staff did.
- Trustworthy Computing. As both a company and as individuals, Microsoft has to earn trust every day, not only through its products, but also through its responsiveness and accountability to customers. "If there are real and good reasons to change plans (e.g., to close a product line, to change licensing terms, to change a delivery schedule or spec, or even to do an upgrade) we must take responsibility for these changes and their impact on customers," Ballmer wrote.
- Broad Customer Connection. Microsoft needs to be able to see beyond general trends to the interests of smaller communities that have the potential to become very large and influential. "We must use the Internet in new ways to have a special connection on all fronts with these customers," he said.
- Innovative and Responsible Platform Leadership. This involves a clear technology vision and the platform and road map for it. "We have an enormous opportunity to harness innovation in a manner that enables our platform—Windows and .Net—to better help customers realize their potential. We recognize that our mission requires us to lead the industry responsibly—by expanding platform innovation, benefits and opportunities, by being open in discussing our future directions, getting feedback, and working with others to ensure that their products and our platforms work well together," Ballmer wrote.
- Enabling People to Do New Things. Microsoft must no longer focus narrowly on the PC or on desktop software. "Our mission requires that we do excellent work in a broader set of areas to help customers and to enable the company to grow. We must systematically identify and brainstorm new areas. Some of that work may lead to incubation of new products, some to new scenarios that we will integrate into existing businesses, some may lead to acquisitions of key talent or experience, and some may lead to integrating more deeply with new or existing partners," Ballmer wrote to the staff.
- A Global, Inclusive Approach. This involves all people and businesses of the world. "We cannot solve the problems of the digital divide alone, but we can innovate in ways to continue to lower costs of these technologies and we can show leadership in giving time, money, and software to promote broad use of information technology," he wrote.
Microsoft would, then, going forward, line up significant innovation in most businesses around big platform innovations. The next version of Windows—code-named Longhorn—would "prove the value clearly," Ballmer said.
In addition, while Microsoft likes having a small board of directors, it would add a member from outside the United States to continue to broaden the diversity of the board.
"Trustworthy Computing and Broad Customer Connection are particular hot buttons for me. I will take the Product Quality Initiative and Customer and Partner Loyalty work now under way as direct responsibilities. Bill [Gates] and Craig Mundie will drive Trustworthy Computing. Expect a lot of action, emphasis and field empowerment in short order to get our arms around these issues in short order.
"I personally am very excited about participating with you in this important mission. With a clear mission, great people, a compelling platform, a crisp and agile management approach, a clear focus on serving customers and a recognition of our responsibility as an industry leader, we are well positioned to deliver on the promise and opportunities of the future," Ballmer concluded.