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How Microsoft’s Human Resources Culture Drove Away Talent

“Microsoft’s implementation – “stack ranking”, a bell curve that pits employees and groups against one another like rats in a cage – plunged the company into internecine fights, horse trading, and backstabbing.

…every unit was forced to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, then good performers, then average, then below average, then poor…For that reason, executives said, a lot of Microsoft superstars did everything they could to avoid working alongside other top-notch developers, out of fear that they would be hurt in the rankings.

Employees quickly realised that it was more important to focus on organisation politics than actual performance:…”

LINK

One of the commenters on this article, a ‘mikesmith’ gives some real food for thought by challenging current conventional wisdom about the ascendancy of STEM.

“I was particularly struck by the very last line, quoting Jobs: ‘Microsoft never had the humanities and liberal arts in its DNA.’ That is so insightful and so true, and says so much about why Apple is now the world’s biggest company. And it’s now fundamentally an arts company, nont a tech company. Sure it has to have great technology. But the purpose of the technology is to sell the arts products. It’s the products created by musicians, writers, filmmakers and others sold on iTunes that is financing Apple’s growth.

And it’s not just true about companies but about countries as well. Those that prosper in coming years will be those that promote the arts, the humanities, the liberal arts. Education in those areas should be a country’s number one priority, and those countries that do that will be the leaders and will have the most prosperous economies. People who study business and technology simply aren’t capable of coming up with the creative ideas. They are good at bean-counting, or finding ways of making the creative peoples’ ideas work better, but they shouldn’t be in charge and they certainly shouldn’t be receiving the bulk of the investment. It’s the artists and the creatives who matter, who now generate the ideas and the profits. Consider how much economic activity just two artists, Tolkien and Rowling, have generated in the past decade. Huge streams of billions, stemming from the work of just two artists! And they will continue for decades.

I’ve read numerous articles in this paper and others recently that young people are studying business and the sciences more than the arts and the humanities. That is just disastrous, both for the individuals and for their countries. And I feel so sorry for those young people who have been brainwashed into thinking that that’s the way to go. There’s no future for them. They should consider well Jobs’ insight, it’s quite brilliant.”

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