Remarks by Steve Ballmer
Toronto, May 2, 2001
STEVE BALLMER: But its my great pleasure to have this opportunity to chat with you today. When Frank first mentioned to me that we had this great opportunity to speak at a conference called CanWin, I have to say it was impossible for me to be anything but incredibly excited. Its the kind of name I love, and when I actually understood that it stood for something, it meant even more.
Im going to give a speech, which is a little bit unusual, frankly, for me, and I hope it is helpful and really captures a few things. I want to talk a little bit about how we run Microsoft, and we do some things well, and Ill be honest: we do some things not very well.
Like all companies, were trying to maintain our strength through time of evolution and at the same time, work on some areas that we know we can improve. But I certainly think the kind of experience that weve gone through — Ive been at Microsoft 21 years. When I joined Microsoft 21 years ago, I was the 30th employee. We had about $2.5 million in sales. Today were almost 50,000 employees and about $25 billion in sales.
And if nothing, despite our strengths and our weaknesses, I can fairly say I think weve gone through an experience which is essentially unparalleled in business history, and so well talk to you a little bit about what weve learned, what works and what doesnt, and hopefully that provides some foundation.
I will use the opportunity to liberally sprinkle in some of the things that are going on in the technology business, because I think they are A) of general purpose applicability, and B) you cant talk about our strategy, you cant talk about our company, in fact, without talking about whats going on in the technology business.
They tell me they didnt trust me with the mouse, so I push this button and eventually they change the slides backstage. There we go. I always wonder when people wont trust me with my own mouse, but well get to that later.
We think very hard about the things, which have been critical to our success. I think every company needs to do that. What are the things that make your organization unique? Where do you focus? Whats unique about your people? Whats unique about your culture?
I had a chance over the Christmas break to read a book called
“Built to Last.”
Its a business book that talks about great companies and why great companies are great companies over long periods of time. And some people I know who have read the book thought it was brilliant; some people who read the book thought it was just okay. I certainly thought it was thought provoking, because it stimulated me in our company to go back and really think again about some of the core values, some of the key things we do, and the way we think about our business to say,
“Are we building the kind of company thats going to be around well after Bill Gates is gone and Im gone and the founding management team is gone?”
And its clear, from our perspective, that there are five key pillars on which we have consistently operated as a business.
Number one, were a company that believes in having a clear vision, or at least a vision and a clear set of priorities, at least as clear as we can make them. And in a certain sense, that sound obvious, and yet I think it is very difficult for companies to maintain clarity of vision and clarity of priority. Im going to talk a little bit more about where we are, but I do think its incredibly important to push hard on. Its easy to lose your way and its easy to confuse your people about what the priorities are.
Were a company that makes big bets. Frankly, not all companies should, or do, make big bets. But the nature of our industry and our company is we do make big bets. And if they pay out, thats great, and if they dont pay out, frankly its reasonably cataclysmic.
The move to graphical user interface was a big bet. The move to the Internet — there was no bet that the Internet would succeed. Many people thought it was a big bet whether we would succeed, and, in fact, I think some of the pundits said we were going to miss the entire Internet revolution. Thats not the nature of all corporate culture, but it is the nature of our corporate culture, or at least what we think is important.
And I think one of the tendencies that you see in many businesses, including our own, is people want to become more incremental. They want to think that you can go 20 years just doing incremental improvement and advance. Thats not the nature of our beast. If we get in a cycle where were not making big bets, were going to miss the next major trend in our business.
Employee excitement: Now, why would anybody list that on a slide? Of course, we all want excited employees. The question is how do you do it? To what degree is it a priority? What freedom and flexibility do people in your workforce have?
Were coming out of a period that was probably one of the most turbulent in industrial history, in terms of employees thinking they had all the freedom in the world to do absolutely anything and get fabulously wealthy doing it, until about four months ago when the bubble popped. The Internet economy created a whole new level and sense of expectation, and it really forced us at least to go back and drill down on why do people want to work at Microsoft, what makes it an exciting place to work, what are people looking for from a compensation perspective, from a psychic gratification perspective, and I want to talk a little bit about that.
Agility: Our industry moves rapidly. Now, people in the room could say for every business represented here, our business moves rapidly. In the case of the technology field, at least the popular press likes to agree with us. You know, companies come, companies go, companies rise, companies have to do huge and unfortunate layoffs. Theres a need to be adaptable that is really leading edge.
And last, but certainly not least, is leadership. And Id say our business is a tough business, frankly. Its a tough company in which to be a leader, because some of the same tools and techniques that we use to excite our employees makes them a little bit more independent, a little bit more rambunctious, a little bit more — what shall I say — free to not respond to strong leadership than that which you might see in some other companies. So I want to talk about the formula for leadership, in addition to the formula for employee excitement.
I joined Microsoft in 1980. I dropped out of Stanford Business School to go to Microsoft. Id been at Microsoft maybe a month and a half, and I was kind of the finance guy, the personnel guy. I wasnt the technical person, but I was the friend of Bills who did business things.
Id been there about a month and a half and I was worried. I was worried that I dropped out of business school at Stanford to be the bookkeeper of a 30-person company in Bellevue, Washington. And I went out to dinner with Bill and his dad and I said,
“Maybe I should just go back to business school. Maybe I shouldnt be here.”
And Bill got kind of all worked up and he said,
“Look, Steve, theres a real chance to put a personal computer on every desk and in every home.”
And at least Ill claim that that was the birth of the vision statement that guided our company for about 20 years. It was essentially a sales pitch Bill was giving to me to not go back to school. But when he said it, it really captured a lot of what — it was really just so riveting for me, for our company, for our industry that you could tell people,
“The PC is it.”
You make the PC more successful. You make the software, the applications. It was the kind of vision that people could really get united behind.
It became clear to us a couple years ago that that was insufficient, a vision for the next generation of our industry and our company, and we started talking to our people about empowering people through software anytime, any place and on any device.
The good news is we have a new vision, a vision that includes thinking through what goes on TV set-top boxes and game consoles and PDAs and in data centers, not just on the PC.
The bad news is despite the fact our new vision is correct, its not nearly as riveting, frankly, as our old vision. Our old vision, people said,
“Not only do I get the vision, I get what we have to do; we have to make the PC successful. Right, Steve?” “Right, thats what we have to do.”
So this notion of having a vision is really not that simple. We have a vision that I like today. It really encompasses what were working on. We want to empower people through information.
Just look around this room for a second. Is there anything different in the way this meeting is being conducted than the way this meeting would have been conducted 20 years ago? Youre all sitting there with paper and pencil. Were all in an auditorium. Im pushing a thing that turns on a light so somebody can click slides effectively. They dont even let me have the mouse. Im not complaining. That was not a complaint to the show organizers. But this is a meeting like every meeting that would have gone on for years.
Why instead dont we all have PCs sitting in front of us in a meeting like this? Were working on a design of something we call our next-generation Tablet PC. Why dont the PowerPoint slides broadcast out to you through a wireless connection in this room so that theyre there and you dont have to squint and try to read this crazy slide up here? Why dont you have a little stylus in your hand so you can make notes directly on the slide,
“Boy, Ballmer didnt make any sense; I didnt know what he meant on that slide,”
“Hey, good point.”
If you think Im saying something thats interesting and you want to communicate with a friend of yours in the back of the room, why isnt this a virtual community where you can send that instant message?
This camera guy over here, hes recording the audio and the video diligently. Who knows who in the world will ever see that audio/video? Have you ever seen one of those things? But why isnt that being piped through the wireless network in the room so it could be recorded on the hard disk of your Tablet PC and if you wanted to show it to somebody, youd take the audio and the video with the slides with you on your Tablet PC as you exit the room.
Thats the vision of empowering people through software anytime, any place and on any device.
And so it is more than just lets give people PCs. Its about accelerating and taking to the next level the ability people have to capture, record, to share, to annotate, to comment on information. And having that kind of galvanizing vision for a company I think is a very, very important thing.
You could say,
“Well, you guys have it easy. Youre in an industry thats moving at warp speed.”
You know, were in the grocery business.
“I dont know if theres anybody in the grocery business, but”
We in the grocery business arent moving quite as fast.
Thats true, but theres nothing quite so powerful I think for an organization as this notion of a galvanizing vision.
Ive been at Microsoft, as I said, 20 years, and in 20 years Ive already lived through three technology revolutions, three revolutions that would have happened with or without Microsoft, and three things that everybody in this room will recognize is a revolution:
The PC: I started at Microsoft before the PC had come into existence. The PC was clearly a revolution. It would have happened with us or without us. But recognizing that revolution presented a clear opportunity to apply the vision. Vision isnt so much about knowing where your company is going; vision is a lot more about knowing where the industry is going.
Five, six years later, graphical user interface, the notion that the screen wasnt just this set of funny characters and everybody had to learn arcane commands. I dont know if anybody remembers DOS C:>, DIR, blah, blah, blah. I worked at Microsoft and I never learned how to really operate that thing. But the graphical user interface came into the fore, and recognizing that trend, that change in the industry was essential.
The Internet is a clear revolution that has happened in our industry.
The next revolution is already upon us. Theres a technology called XML, which I probably will explain more than most of you wish, but theres a technology called XML that will lead to another revolution in the way computing gets done. And if were not planning, if our vision isnt broad enough to encompass and recognize these important transitions, we cannot succeed as a company. And thats why I say the sense of vision is palpably important.
Today, when we work with the Internet, when we work with computers, we tend to work with islands of information. Theres no way to mix and match. Suppose you wanted to create a Web page for yourself that had a view of the traffic on the road to the airport, and you wanted to have your own personal financial portfolio that one of the banks was holding for you, and you wanted to see your e-mail and your schedule and maybe, I dont know, the score or the play by play commentary on the Leafs game. Thats really what you want to see. You dont want to have to go look at each of these pages and all that kind of stuff. You want to pull that together.
How would you do that today? The truth is, you wouldnt. Theres no standard for interchanging and exchanging and integrating information on the Internet today.
This XML revolution is about that. XML will essentially be kind of a lingua franca for how people talk to people and businesses talk to businesses and businesses talk to people on the Internet.
I sometimes say to software developers,
“Suppose you wanted to create the following application: MyVacation.com?”
Even though its a dot-com its still okay to talk about it. MyVacation.com: And MyVacation would let you book a flight, maybe to go visit a family member. It would automatically put your flight arrival time on the calendar of the person that youre visiting, assuming you have the appropriate permission to do so. If your flight was late, it would notify the person you were visiting.
Now, what does notify mean? Well, its kind of up to the person. Some people like to be paged, e-mailed, instant messages, phones. That should be up to the recipient, not to the sender, of how you notify somebody.
It would tell the post office to hold your mail and that would be MyVacation.com. Well, telling the post office to hold your mail, it would have to prove to the post office that it has the authority for you. Theres privacy. Theres security. Theres authentication. Let alone, how do you talk to the post office? After all, the post office Web site isnt really there to be programmed by other Web sites.
Thats the world of XML, and its a time again of revolution in our industry.
We happen to have a technology platform thats called .NET that were putting in the marketplace, but the key point is recognizing, having and showing leadership.
Weve gone though a bit of a rougher patch than were used to over the last couple of years as a company. We did a sales meeting last year and I remember using the analogy of the boxing match between Mohammed Ali and George Foreman, where Ali did a technique he called the
“rope a dope.”
You know, he let Foreman punch him for about eight rounds until Foreman was too tired and then he came back. And I think our people felt a little bit like wed been a punching bag for our industry for a couple years, because wed had our legal problems and all this kind of stuff.
But the number one thing that has been happening over the last couple of years is I dont think we had stepped forward in quite as vigorous a way as wed like to articulate a vision for our people and for our industry on where things are going. And this XML revolution is the kind of vision that all companies need to galvanize themselves around in their industry.
Along with vision is priority. Some people think our company is trying to do everything. I know the answer is not that were trying to do everything, but were just trying to do more things than most players in the business, and were relentlessly repeating to your people and to external parties,
“Heres what were trying to do, heres what were trying to do, heres what were trying to do,”
is incredibly important.
The press is very active in our business, and if the press thinks youre trying to do something, your employees think youre trying to do it.
We have a rule at Microsoft: We dont send out e-mails to our employees that were not willing to send out to the newspaper. Why? Because if you send a piece of e-mail to 45,000 people you did send it to the newspaper. You just dont know whos going to send it the next step.
So its very important that you have a consistent view of what the priorities are. Weve told our people there are six priorities were working on: The future of the PC through Windows; how knowledge workers work; how small businesses do their accounting and finances and customer contact; how consumers interact with the Internet, new devices, game consoles, new cell phone designs, Pocket PCs that people might want to use; and the servers and tools and infrastructure that really lets an enterprise build out the next generation of ERP application or Web presence or e-government applications, et cetera. Those are six things we focus in on.
We dont focus in on providing design tools for aerospace equipment manufacturers. We dont focus in on providing ERP solutions for large companies. Were not a big services company.
Six priorities, and everything is going to be built on one core, and that core is our new XML .NET platform. And its become almost a mantra. We repeat it and we repeat it and we repeat it and we repeat it and we repeat it and hopefully then we dont get confused by it. Although we still have a propensity to do that, so we repeat it all the more.
That sense of vision and priority, I think, is very tough. Im not going to call us best in class; Im going to sort of say that we are — whats the best analogy to use? Were like recovering alcoholics. Weve known what it was like to not have a clear set of priorities and now that we do, were preaching it vigorously to all of our friends and colleagues.
Making big bets: Some companies should not make big bets. Their economics dont allow it. Theyre not paid to make big bets. Theyre paid to be flexible. Theyre paid to adapt. Theyre paid to have vision. But some companies cant go spend $2 billion and then hope the thing is popular. Thats the nature of the kind of work that we do, whether its on .NET — the original work we did on Windows was that kind of big bet. The work we did on our Windows NT technology to try to be in the server business; these are bets where you build a piece of technology, you ship it, people dont like it, you improve it, they dont like it, you improve it again; five years later, a billion dollars into it, they like it and then you get huge businesses that spring from that.
In a way its a very kind of scary and risky proposition but its the nature of big bets and it is a fundamental part of our success.
It does require that you show patience and that you execute over a long period of time. One of the things that I think was worst about the dot-com bubble of the last several years was people forgot that most things arent easy, theyre hard; most bets are big, not little; and most things require time and patience; they dont happen overnight.
And with the world exhibiting that philosophy, we saw the same thing inside our own company. People werent as willing to make big bets. People wanted to see more immediate payoffs. People werent prepared to put in the years of patience it takes sometimes to see a good idea come to fruition, because there was kind of a false sense of immediate success.
We have plenty of cases where weve made bets and stayed with them, and whether its part of your culture or not, you sort of almost have to decide. This
“Built to Last”
book I think was quite good. They contrast companies that make big bets with companies that dont, and they dont say one is better than the other; they just say whatever type company you are, be great at it. And its very different to be a company that is much more sort of shorter-term service focused than longer term and bet-focused, and thats very much part of our culture.
I do think a lot of technology companies arent sure what they are. Theyre not sure whether theyre big bet companies or not. Even in this day and age, I think you could ask about some of the biggest technology companies, what really are they. IBM started out as a big bet company. Today theyre primarily an enterprise services company. Are they a big bet company or not? Maybe theyre not. That doesnt make them a bad company; it just makes them a very different kind of company than we are or Oracle or some of the other companies in our business.
I talked a little bit already about this concept of .NET and XML, and our role is to try to provide the software, because thats our business — software; its a great business — that goes into PCs, the software that goes into handheld devices, the TV set-top boxes, the servers, and even software that just runs in the Internet and helps people with the integration issues, with the scenarios I described before — MyVacation.com, My Personal Web page. Theres a whole raft of software infrastructure required behind this XML revolution to make that kind of thing come to the fore.
One thing weve learned about big bet vision and priority is you have to be willing to be flexible about the vision. This is sort of — oh, I dont know — its considered a bit of an oxymoron I guess in the context of the technology business. Some visionaries have visions and they say,
“I see the way the world will be and my job is to just pursue it relentlessly.”
Thats kind of I think the classic press characterization of vision in the technology industry.
At Microsoft we dont always see it that way. We say,
“Thats the big direction the industry is going,”
but then you announce, you get feedback, you learn, you adapt. We announced our .NET software platform about a year ago, and within the last year we sort of incrementally brought out more pieces. And every piece we announced we learned something else we should have done, some change we should make. And this notion of flexibility and market feedback is equally important to a company that wants to have big vision and make big bets.
Let me turn to employee excitement. I think employee excitement actually starts with the vision and priorities. Without a vision, I dont know how any company gets its employees psyched up. At least, it wouldnt work around our place. The fundamental thing that brings people to work, that gets them enthused, that makes people want to be at Microsoft is participating in something big thats going to change the world.
I started college recruiting for our company back in 1980. That was the first year we did college recruiting. And the one thing I could tell kids coming out of school, and we can still tell kids coming out of school is you have more possibility of working on something thats going to be used by millions of people if you come to Microsoft than if you go anywhere else in the world. You can change the world. And that starts with a sense of vision.
In our case, we overlay on that a few other things that are very important that were really looking for in the world. We look for people with incredible intelligence. I say it just that starkly. I always figure that if we have somebody in a job whos a little bit smarter than their peer at one of our competitors, even if they make a bunch of mistakes because theyre junior, theyre inexperienced, they kind of have a buffer to recover and adapt. So we look for people who are very smart.
We look for people who are very passionate not only about the technology but the way you use the technology. If you go back 15 years, thats a big change we made. We used to just find people who loved the technology; you know, what I would call the typical bits and bytes crowd. And our products all looked like they had been designed by the old bits and bytes crowd. And, you know, we built products that kind of — what shall I say — had great plumbing and no finish work done to them. Its like going to a bathroom where the plumbing is all perfect but the toilet seat is uncomfortable or something. That was the nature of our product; there was no sense of how people wanted to use the great things that we were building.
Weve changed that. Weve morphed. We focus now on people who love the technology but who love the application.
I apologize for the analogy, but its very fitting in the context of the way our people have learned about our stuff, because we are a company thats had to graduate to understanding the application of technology to a given customer scenario.
We look for people who love to be held accountable. And in a sense thats a tough thing. I actually think a lot of companies talk about accountability. We talk about accountability and we dont always walk the walk, so to speak. We dont really always honestly look ourselves in the eye or look people in the eye and say,
“We did that well; we did that poorly.”
As a company, thats a value we hold dear. We are relentlessly self critical about the company.
Another important corollary: If you want to have the kind of people who want to succeed is you have to really hold people accountable. Certainly the people who work in our office up here in Canada understand that notion.
Frank and I were joking around. Earlier this year our Canadian subsidiary was, shall we say, behind their plan and now they are above their plan, and he and I were both kind of celebrating last night the fact that Im in Canada now as opposed to several months ago when they were behind their plan. And it is important to hold people, I think at least in our culture, very accountable.
One other thing Id talk about is the notion of excellence. Weve been a company that always sort of, as the slide says, focused in on peoples individual freedom to innovate, to contribute, to make a difference. And our people love that. Our people love pointing at a feature and a product and saying,
“I did that. I made that happen.”
The thing which were working on hard in our culture is also to stimulate people to worry a lot and to focus a lot not only on their contribution but what they do to make the people who are around them better. To use the analogy from sports, not everybody in basketball is a great point guard, somebody who makes their teammates all look much better than they would otherwise, and I think that in most great businesses finding people who are not only individually great but make others better is a real challenge. Its certainly a challenge in our place. If anything, I guess you would say we tend to have people who are more right, sort of religiously independent, like working by themselves. We give everybody a private office, which is almost unheard of, but now we have to do some work to encourage and stimulate this sense of team and teamwork.
The agility to adapt: We talk about a benefit of our software is our software needs to help companies be agile. We need to provide software that lets you put the right information in front of your people so they make the right decisions. We need to build software that makes it easy for you to build the new application that connects you with your trading partner or with your customer. We need to build software that makes it easy for you to scale your business up if you get a lot more customers. We need to make software that gives you a lot of flexibility and agility. Thats how we think about what our tools need to do: empowering software that empowers people or empowering people through information. That means a lot about flexibility: Empowered employees, empowered trading partners and empowered customers.
And we focus a lot on that in the software we build, but we also spend a lot of time thinking about our agility as a company. It is much harder to be agile, I will tell you, with 45,000, 50,000 employees than it was when we had 30 employees. When you have 30 employees, you bring them all into a room and you tell them,
“Were turning left; were turning right,”
and the ones that dont want to turn left or right, you know them all by name, you cajole them, you knock them on the head, you do whatever it takes, and if they dont want to come with you, you leave them behind but you know youve got some sort of coherence and youve adapted quickly.
Weve put a lot of work into the systems and the approach to being flexible as a company that has almost 50,000 employees. Not only do we work hard on providing software that makes others agile, we have worked very hard on software that lets us be agile.
If I want to get a message out to every employee at Microsoft, I can do that by sending an e-mail very quickly that I know people will read because in our culture you read your e-mail and you read it pretty religiously. Thats not always a good thing. Theres kind of a productivity loss as well as gain that comes with it, but its the price of being adaptable.
If we want to communicate a new strategy, I can literally convene an electronic meeting of all of our employees within an hours notice. All it takes is a camera and the we use our network infrastructure to broadcast the speech, to take online questions, to get people to understand where were going, what the changes are, what it is we want to do.
Our corporate intranet is well trafficked. If I want to take this speech, that tape and put it up there and tell our employees,
“I want you to see this,”
we can do that.
Changing some aspects of our business, being adaptable in some other ways is very hard. If were wrong about this XML revolution, its going to be hard for us to adapt because it is one of our big bets. Its one of our cores. Its one of the things that we know we can modify but we cant throw out, if you will. So the notion of adaptability, and how you get adaptable, I think is very important.
Let me take some simple things that weve done with our software systems to make ourselves more adaptable, and I want to start just with the notion of being paperless. Microsoft is a paperless company. Now, when I say that, if you visit our office and you see paper, youre going to say,
“Ha-ha, Steve, I caught you.”
And so Im willing to admit that sometimes people print things out because there are documents that are easier to read printed than they are on the screen. Not for long; were working to fix that, but there are documents that get long and people want to read on paper, but literally I have no need for paper in my life. Every memo comes to me electronically. Every expense report that I need to approve: electronically. Anything we want to purchase in my department: electronic. Any invoice from a vendor for approval: electronic. Any market research report I get: electronic. Any newspaper clippings about Microsoft: electronic. Everything, everything, everything in my world is electronic — everything.
That gives you a lot of adaptability. We built this one little system just for tracking purchasing and invoicing, and the amount of cost and expense it takes out is amazing. You know, we have 83 percent lower cost per employee, 72 percent lower cost per transaction, but its not the savings thats as important as the flexibility.
I travel about 14 weeks a year. When Im on the road, am I keeping up? Am I adapting? Am I participating? I participate the same way when Im on the road as when Im in Seattle. I have a laptop computer. I plug it in. And I am electronically connected to everything. Theres nothing that waits for me because Im not at home.
We actually enhance this a little bit more in the new version of Microsoft Office that ships this year. Its got scanning and optical character recognition built in, so my secretary can actually take the documents that I get from outside Microsoft, some of which still come in paper, and just provide them to me also electronically.
Now, you might ask,
“How does most of your correspondence come from your customers?”
In my case, 99.5 percent of all of the feedback I get from customers and that our company gets from customers does come in an electronic form. I probably get ten pieces of electronic mail a day from customers or business partners. For reference, if you have questions or things you want to follow up on, Im [email protected] I read my own mail and I get from a speech like this, giving out my e-mail address I bet Ill probably get four or five pieces of mail, of which three will have constructive suggestions on things we should do better, one will be a business opportunity to go sell something and one will be somebody asking me some random question and I wont call on in advance who it might be. But thats the kind of mix you get if youre using this kind of electronic interaction with people.
Weve done this in the area of customer satisfaction. One of the keys to adapting is really hearing what your customers are saying and reacting. We now have a way of doing all online polling of our customers on satisfaction with the account manager, with the support, with the communications, with the product. And so where we used to get these customer satisfaction surveys back in six months, we get them back in three days. We have more real time information, better diagnostic information that lets us adapt, switch, change strategies, help educate account managers, whatever the case may be.
The last element that we think is important,t and were learning a lot about, is in the area of leadership and what it takes to be a good strong leader or have good strong leaders inside the company. I think were pretty good on this dimension in some ways, but theres a lot to learn. Over the course of the last year or so, we had General Colin Powell come and address our executive management team. And its fascinating to know how much even good leaders can learn about leadership, you know, the importance of optimism. Leaders need to be optimistic. We are a company thats relentlessly self-critical in some senses. Were always saying,
“Oh, we can do better, we can do better.”
But people want to hear not only we can do better but we will do better. You have to provide a certain kind of an optimism to propel people and really move them forward. Thats very important.
Weve learned how important it is to be willing to take risks as leaders in upsetting our people. And in a technology business, where the engineer can be king, there tends to be a culture sometimes of trying to let the engineer pursue their dreams even when it runs against other things going on in the company. Youve got to be very willing to stand up and tell people theyre wrong; the companys going this way, and even though they have a good idea, we need to get them to snap to, and the people who cant should move on and the people who can should come with the strategy. Thats important if you want to have vision, if you want to really have a strong sense of priority.
The other point, which General Powell made, which is very important, at least in our business, and which were trying to teach our people is its important not to let your ego and your position on any subject get tied up together, because positions can change; the people dont. You dont want to lose your total sense of self worth as a leader because somebody makes a decision thats against the position that youve articulated, and so were trying to teach people to put a little bit of separation between their egos and their beliefs, and particularly a company like ours where we hire passionate and committed people who want to change the world, who see the world a certain way. The notion of not tying your total sense of value up with the position you take is a tough challenge and a tough transition that were trying to make inside our corporate culture.
I think Microsoft, the experiences weve been through, perhaps some of what Ive shared has prompted some thoughts for you in the way you think about your businesses and their growth and the key elements and the competitiveness. If Ive even jarred one thought, Ill consider this speech something of a success. The thing that I do know and the thing that Ive not spent as much time on in this speech is I do know our technologies can help you succeed. They can help you achieve the kind of agility that you need to to move fast, to put information in front of the right people internally and externally to your company.
I know we can help lead your path to this next generation XML world of the Internet. I know we can help with those problems. We stand ready on a worldwide basis. The 550 people strong that Microsoft has up here in Canada stand ready to help and certainly its been my privilege and pleasure to address you today, and Ill look forward to some good questions and discussion. Thanks very much.