Joe Wilcox of Jupiter Research offers some sage advice for Microsoft about how to engage with the rest of the world. Many times when I've spoken with Microsoft employees, they talk about how living and working in Redmond is like being in a different world. That can be a blessing and a curse.
I'm just going to list Joe's bullet points. Visit his blog to read the advice and see if you don't agree that adhering to these principles would make Microsoft a kinder, gentler 800 lb. gorilla.
- Think as big as you like but talk and act smaller.
- Listen at least as much as you talk.
- Save the lectures for your kids.
- Think a little locally.
- Slow down.
- Speak lower and slower.
- Your religion is your religion and not necessarily theirs.
- If you talk politics, talk--don't argue.
In microcosm, there's more than a little wisdom in this advice for all of us. Joe's last point is well worth quoting in its entrety:
If you talk politics, talk--don't argue. Microsoft is passionate about technology standards and how its products lead innovation. But other vendors and their customers may differently see technology standards or the licensing of intellectual property. If you can't embrace their point of view, agree to disagree. But remember that your size and dominance can make you appear to be pushy, when you drive standards supporting your products while ignoring efforts to establish competing, open standards.
Those are words to live by and not just for Microsoft. Too often, we get so wrapped up in the passion of our own perspective that the conversation turns into a shouting match. As the volume level rises, the quality of discourse inevitably lowers.
UPDATE: Just so no one else hurts themselves jumping to conclusions (like the first commenter on this post), yes - these are word-for-word the advice points supplied by the State Department to U.S. tourists traveling abroad. This would have been obvious had the commenter actually read Mr. Wilcox's post.