An abundance of research leaves absolutely no doubt whatsoever that for an organizations to be both profitable and durable, they must constantly reinvent themselves. Obviously, the nature and extent of that process will be determined by various factors such as timing, available resources, competitive marketplace, etc. Meanwhile, like the Southwest Airlines flight schedule between Dallas and Houston, there seems to be a new paradigm every 20-30 minutes. Moreover, organizations are at various stages of transition from one paradigm to another. And meanwhile, change remains the only constant.
In this volume, Slater explains how Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer reinvented their company. Microsoft? Yes, even one of the world's most profitable and valuable companies reached a point at which significant transformation was necessary. Slater organizes his material within five Parts: The Four-Year Crisis, Emerging from the Crisis, How Bill Gates Reinvented Microsoft, How Steve Ballmer Reinvented Microsoft, and The Rebooting of Microsoft.
Slater responds to questions such as these:
1. What was the nature and extent of what he calls "the four-year crisis"?
2. Why did it last for as long as it did?
3. What did Gates and Ballmer learn from it?
4. To what extent (if any) did they disagree on what to do in response to it?
5. If there were differences between them, how were they resolved?
6. In Leading Change, Jim O'Toole has much of value to say about resistance to change. He claims that much of it is the result of what he calls "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." To what extent was there such resistance within the Microsoft organization?
7. What was done to overcome it? Were those efforts successful?
8. According to Slater, what lessons can be learned from the entire process which included but was not limited to Microsoft's rebooting?
9. Given his direct and extensive access to Gates and Ballmer (interviewing them separately as well as together), what does he think of each?
10. In Slater's opinion, what must be done to complete the reforms at Microsoft now underway?
Slater is the author of more than 25 books, most of which I have read and reviewed. In my opinion, this is his most important work thus far, in part because of what it reveals about Gates, Ballmer, and their company but also because it reminds all of us that even a Microsoft will always be a "work in progress"...and that only hard and smart "work" will achieve the "progress" on which success depends.