In 2003, Microsoft UK's director of people and culture, Steve Harvey, achieved the coup of getting Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant to produced two training videos for the company. Gervais and Merchant agreed, on the condition that the videos not be made public.
It took three years, but the inevitable has now happened — the videos have leaked and are available on online video-sharing services such as YouTube and Google Video. They follow the character of David Brent from The Office, now a management consultant, as he delivers his peculiar brand of wisdom on Microsoft in particular and the world of technology in general.
For those of you who want to see what Microsoft's new staff have been learning but don't have time to watch the whole videos, we've extracted some of the highlights:
On passion for technology without passion for the customer
You come in my shop and say: "Ooh, can I buy this brilliant piece of technology?" and I say: "Yes you can, you little four-eyed freak, that's 400 quid, now get out you're making the place look untidy". Now where's that going to leave me?
On passion for the customer at the expense of passion for the technology
I'm in the shop, I love the customer though. You come in you go: "Oh can I buy that?" I say: "Yeah of course you can, your glasses look nice, I like your hair. You want this, do you? It's rubbish, it don't work and it's full of viruses. But I love you." Pointless.
On other people's ideas
After a few months, you get to know who's got the good ideas and who's got the rubbish ones, or who doesn't have any at all — ban them from the meetings, and concentrate on the ones that have been having the good ideas, and reward them and eventually sack the others.
On your own ideas
If you are one of the people with good ideas, keep schtum, why give them away? I don't think Bill Gates made his millions by putting his hand up to his boss and saying: "Uh boss, I've got this great idea. I'd like to see every home and office with their own computer one day". "Oh brilliant, thanks Gates, now get back to work you little nerd." So keep your ideas to yourself and make them work for you. Maybe set up a rival company.
Too much thinking makes Jack a mental case.
On artificial intelligence
If you are working on anything like androids, heed the warning, because what usually happens is: you build an android with human intelligence, it gets emotions, and gets jealous of humans and goes mental and tries to kill us all. Just have a centralised switch at your own office where you can turn off the power and it stops them all. If we'd had that in Westworld, then Yul Brynner wouldn't have killed so many humans.
On expanding your career
It is easier to find a new job when employed than when not. So I'd say, if you're looking for a better job, use all your time to find that new job, spend all your time emailing new employers, and faxing. If they've got a franking machine go bezerk, send out letters willy nilly saying "I'm sick here, it does my head in." They've exploited you, get 'em back.
Looks good on your CV. Doesn't cost your new employer anything, so he's laughing. Doesn't cost you anything so you're laughing. Gets you out of the office for a day, which is a day not spent sitting in the office next to some nerd who's going on about how his mum mixing up his Buffy videos and his Deep Space 9 videos. Residential ones are the best because not only do you get a day out chatting up another bosses over a few beers, but you get a night away from your wife and kids, or if you're an engineer at Microsoft, a night away from your mum and nan.
On Bill Gates' wealth
Fact: If Bill Gates drops £5,000 in the street he doesn't pick it up. Litter bug.