How important is company culture? For Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, it decides “everything a company does when it’s successful,” quoted from his recent interview with USA Today. The interview happened as Nadella prepares for his presence at Dreamforce ’15, Salesforce’s annual event for customers and developers, where he will talk about the importance of productivity and collaboration in the global economy, and how data is changing the world.
In the interview, Nadella admitted to seeing a company’s existing culture as “everything,” with all else being its “lagging indicator.” An example of this mindset can be seen in the many positive changes from Microsoft in its internal operations and communications with customers. All of these changes are evidences of a new, changing culture, which Nadella describes as “a living, learning culture with a growth mindset that allows us to learn from ourselves and our customers,” and this new culture seems to be resonating well with customers. In a recent surprising move, Microsoft collaborated with Apple in its iPad Pro demonstration, showing off its productivity suite on the long-time rival’s new tablet, and given this new flexible, company-wide mindset, we can expect many such moves from the refreshed behemoth in the future.
Work-life balance in the tech industry has always been a hotly-debated topic, and the New York Times’ recent exposé on Amazon’s treatment of its employees serves as a horrifying look and cautionary word to all tech employers and employee-to-bes. When asked, Nadella took no reserves in making his view clear, only short of mentioning the competitor’s name out right. “The notion of having work-life harmony in a highly competitive economy is a first-class topic,” “I think the key is to make sure you’re engaging in a dialog with your employees. There also needs to be flexibility in all the (workplace) policies that someone like me sets and propagates. You cannot have people burn out. It’s bad for your company, and it’s bad for society,” says Nadella.