{Heroes} Happen Here: Leadership Lessons from a Microsoft Product Launch

This entry has been pending for a week but it is still worth posting. Last week was the Server Wave Launch 2008 event here in Singapore where Microsoft released their very new products, namely, Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008. This launch’s theme focuses on celebrating the people behind the technology who make things happen in their organizations. It may sound like a marketing hype from the consumers’ point of view but I think it is a worthwhile initiative by Microsoft to really recognize the most valuable asset in any organization: people.

I’ve had my shares of attending Microsoft product launches and being the tech guy as I am, I look forward to seeing what these new technologies are capable of. Not during this event. As Bill Hiff, General Manager, Windows Server Marketing and Platform Strategy, talked about the new features of the products, I was listening for non-technology-related insights he was sharing. What struck me the most was his statement on how each one of us can become change agents in our organizations – “be the change you want to be.” We want processes, management, initiatives to change and his challenge is painstakingly practical and that is if you want to have something changed, start from within yourself. Then, there was this round table discussion between executives from Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, Intel and Hewlett-Packard. As always, they talked about what makes their organizations stay ahead in their industry and the typical CxO pitch when it comes to doing public appearances. The HP executive highlighted the PPT in their success – People, Processes and Technology, again, having people as the forerunners of their success. When it came to the Sun Microssystems executive being interviewed, one of the things highlighted was the collaboration between them and Microsoft as they were perceived off as rivals in the industry. What the Sun executive said was really striking and if I may quote,”Microsoft and Sun Microsystems love the customers more than they love each other which comples them to work together to provide excellent solutions.” This highlights the value of co-opetition in the global economy today. Having two rival companies setting aside their own selfish ambitions for the good of the customers, therefore benefitting the customers and themselves in the process. Quoting from a CNET News published in 1998, “Some people see business entirely as competition. They think doing business is waging war and assume they can’t win unless somebody else loses. Other people see business entirely as cooperative teams and partnerships. But business is both cooperation and competition. It’s coopetition.

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