Although I'm not exactly sure how Boards of Directors select a company CEO, I'm pretty sure that they don't consider all the best candidates for the job. I could give you many examples of poorly chosen CEOs but unfortunately that kind of analysis requires more than a thousand or so words that I have to work with in a single post. However, I'm non-traditional in the traditional sense of the word, so instead of giving bad examples, I'm simply going to tell you and Microsoft why I'd be the best next choice for Microsoft CEO. If it works, this post will go down as one of the boldest moves in tech history. If it doesn't, at least I'll have given it my best shot. Microsoft, and the world-at-large, should consider this post as my formal pitch to be its next CEO.
From a technical experience perspective, I've worked with MS DOS since 1987 and Windows since 1990. My experiences range from hacking DOS commands with the old IBM Professional Editor to leading a team of desktop support techs to Windows Server system administration to research into operating systems and interoperability to technical management.
I successfully ran my own computer consulting company from 1995 to 2003 and our motto for the first few years was, "Let's get the Red out." Referring to the old Murine eye drops commercials, I decided that Novell servers were really limited in scope (File and Print services only) for companies that wanted to do more. Our "Get the Red out" campaign involved demonstrating Windows NT Server 4.0 as a better replacement. Having a familiar Windows interface helped the companies decide to remove their Red boxes (Novell servers) and move to a system that has capabilities far beyond simple File and Print services.
Aside from my day job as a Windows system administrator and VMware administrator, I'm also a technology writer, author, columnist, and media personality (podcasts). In fact, I've interviewed some of Microsoft's best and brightest along the way too. So, you know you're looking at someone who's adept at telling a story and spinning technical information into a format that anyone can read and enjoy.
I'm excited about public speaking, addressing the media, talking to shareholders, creating strategic partnerships, and motivating employees. In fact, I love an audience.
But you can find hundreds of people with similar backgrounds. Those attributes aren't all that special. You can find people who, like myself, have families, who are passionate but private about their religious beliefs, who are passionate and concerned about our political climate, who are concerned about our economy, and who have the charisma to lead a company. Anyone who vies for a CEO position should have those basic qualities.
So, what is it then, that sets one person apart from the herd? Is it being part of a "Good ol' boy" network of some kind? Is it many years inside your company? Is it the gift of gab? Or is it something more concrete, such as a vision for your company's future?
I hope it's the latter. And if it is, then please read on.
There are many people who pin the badge of "Visionary" to their own lapels. How many of those "visionaries" have true visions and passions to move a company forward until the baton is, once again, passed onto the next CEO?
In my mind, a CEO is someone who doesn't have to apologize for a company's past. The CEO keeps the company moving forward. He or she is the company's beacon and part of the brand. When you think of a major business, you should be able to name its CEO without hesitation. If you can't, then that person is not part of the brand.
You need someone in that seat who your customers, your shareholders, and your employees are excited about. Someone who is inspired and inspiring. Those are a few attributes that few candidates possess. The list narrows to a few key names.
Now that I've told you who I am, what I believe, and my perspective on who and what a great CEO is, let me turn your attention to my vision for Microsoft and its future.
"I've seen the future and I've seen it through Windows."
Microsoft as a Software Company
The company should focus on its roots as a software business. We have an obligation to our customers to produce and maintain the highest quality software available. We should welcome third-party developers and enable them to also produce high quality software and give them with the tools, APIs, and information necessary to succeed. Whether its software for game consoles, for tablets, or for traditional hardware, we have to focus on security, useability, stability, and interoperability.
We have to change our vision to meet the new computing paradigm. We must accept that there are other operating systems, other platforms, and other brands that customers want. We must admit that there's no single right answer for every problem. We must enable our customers to use what they want with what we produce. Interoperability is that new paradigm. We must face it and embrace it.
Microsoft as a Cloud Company
We must move forward urgently with our committment to cloud operating systems, cloud services, and virtualization. It's time for us to explore more of our own branded SaaS solutions and cloud solutions, such as those already in place such as Office 365 and Outlook.com.
We must enable customers to enjoy Windows environments on any device they own and for any purpose they want. Any software that we produce must be cloud-enabled, including our operating systems. Cloud is the future of computing and we must be the company that puts our customer's data, applications, and operating systems in it.
Microsoft as a Partner
Microsoft will form new partnerships with companies of all sizes from the smallest mom and pop shops to the largest global enterprises. Our software and support will be essential elements in everyday business and personal use. We will help our VARs to realize better profits through incentive programs and better support.
We will simplify and streamline licensing into an easy to understand form. We will form implicit partnerships with our customers and will assist them in becoming license compliant by creating software amnesty for those who step up and license their software without fear of action or retribution.
Microsoft as an Innovator
Microsoft will return to its roots as technology innovator. We will do business as unusual. We will seek out the brightest minds and allow them to innovate, to create, and to flourish as inventors, creators, and visionaries. We will release our grip on software patents and therefore enable third parties to innovate and to profit from our technology innovations.
We will seed startups that innovate and create new software and technologies that benefit our customers.
We will continue to redefine what "leading edge" technology is. We will continue to redefine agile. And we will continue to explore not only the possibilities but ideas for technologies that are currently impossible.
Microsoft as a Leader
We will continue and broaden our position as the world's best software company by hiring the industry's best leaders from those who share the vision and from those who challenge the vision. The only common attribute I care about is a passion, an obsession really, for making Microsoft the world's technology leader.
We will create products that people want for personal and business use. We will not be the default choice but rather the desired choice. We will bring personal back to computing and we will bring business forward to a new age of technological enlightenment.
Standing on the shoulders of giants isn't easy. It requires the desire to do something even greater, to see further than ever thought possible, and to maintain the focus to do so.
I might never be Microsoft's CEO but at least I've provided some food for thought on the choice that has to be made.
I'll give you no further empassioned pleas nor no better reasons to sway your opininons but I will leave you with one final thought:
"I've seen the future and I've seen it through Windows."