Joachim Kempin, a former Microsoft senior vice president who worked at the company for nearly two decades, delivers a strong critique of the company and its CEO, Steve Ballmer, in a new book being released today, called “Resolve and Fortitude”
Although Kempin hasn’t worked at the company for a decade, his perspective and experience shed light on how Microsoft got to where it is today. He points in particular to the rise of Ballmer, describing him as a micromanager whose approach has led to the steady departure of the company’s top product executives. Kempin says Ballmer has a habit of making life difficult for anyone who might challenge him to become Microsoft’s chief executive.
Kempin writes of a meeting he had with Ballmer in spring of 2010 …
I encouraged Steve to listen carefully to IT world-shattering ideas his employees were concocting and spin off new businesses to sponsor a MS-led Silicon Valley like phenomenon of new entrepreneurs, right here in the state of Washington. … My message: Take full advantage of any mind blowing new opportunities they come up with instead of bogging entrepreneurial spirit down with internal bureaucracy, artificially-imposed standards, too many committees and management layers. He answered: “I hear you!” Two years later I am still waiting.
Management’s success comes down to trusting others. Can MS’s CEO trust anyone other than himself, and can he let go of micromanaging results? The recent developments may actually signal the latter.
The book, which apparently went to press before the departure of Steven Sinofsky, includes Kempin’s hope that the now-former Microsoft Windows president would be able to step up to play the role of “product fanatic” similar to the role Steve Jobs played at Apple historically.
As a senior vice president, Kempin was a key figure at the company, including his role overseeing Microsoft’s relationships with computer makers. We’ve contacted Microsoft for comment on the book, and will update this post depending on the response. I’m also scheduled to talk with Kempin about his book later today.