What Microsoft could learn from Motorola

Posted in Spritely by Dimitri on February 4, 2010

If Microsoft’s lack of innovation is due to it’s departments screwing each other up, isn’t that a sign of bad leadership?

As John Gruber said today:

Can you imagine the head of Apple’s iWork team declaring by fiat that there wouldn’t be versions of Keynote, Pages, and Numbers for the iPad because he didn’t like the concept?

They can’t because if they did, Steve Jobs (and the other high level Apple execs) wouldn’t tolerate it.

Motorola was in a position not unlike Microsoft last year when they hired CEO Sanjay Jha. The ailing company hadn’t had a hit product since the RAZR, and now that the world had moved on to smartphones, it was in serious trouble.

From a New York Times article last October:

[Jha] discovered that the group making phones with Nokia’s Symbian operating system was staffed almost entirely by outside contractors. The entire project appeared to lack coordination and it was constantly months late in delivering phones. “They were fixing the same bug three or four times,” he said. “It was the contractors run amok.” Even worse, Motorola was not making money on its Symbian phones.

Mr. Jha soon decided to axe the entire Symbian product line as well as phones using several other operating systems. He wanted to simplify product development to standardize on one or two core systems.

The culmination of this revitalization was the Motorola Droid, arguably the second best smartphone behind the iPhone, and a hit from Motorola.

Microsoft has the talent and certainly the resources to make great products. They just have to stop tripping themselves up doing so. They need a leader with a cohesive strategy for every product Microsoft makes, as well as one who will look at each product thoroughly and not be afraid to say “this isn’t good enough.”

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