Microsoft has been a highly influential and instrumental organization of change during our lifetime. At times we praise these innovations, and at times we’ve cursed it. The Government has tried to control it. Organizations have tried to imitate it. By no means has this company had an easy time. Organizational growth goes through stages, each culminating in a crisis stage which must be overcome in order to continue growth. Let’s evaluate how Microsoft met these challenges. 1.Relate Microsoft’s problems with its control and evaluation systems to each of the stages of growth in Greiner’s model. In stage 1 of Greiner’s model of organizational growth, ‘growth through creativity’, ‘the norms and values of the organizational culture, rather than the hierarchy and organizational structure, control people’s behavior’ (Jones, 2010, p. 315).
For Microsoft, the control and evaluation systems were likely driven directly by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, where Bill reviewed continued programming as well as leadership during the first five years of the business. In stage 2 ‘Growth through direction’ Microsoft partnered with IBM to provide its PC-DOS operating system to the IBM PC (“Bill Gates,” February 18, 2012, p. 1). Luckily Bill maintained the OS copyright, which created a differentiation between hardware and software in the marketplace and propelled Microsoft to one of the first corporations to market in the software space. At this point Bill moved from startup to established corporation and appointed his senior management team, and situated the corporation in Redmond, Washington. In stage 3 ‘growth through delegation it’s likely that the small work groups described in this case for analysis story was forming and performing.
Innovation was delegated to these teams and control functions of the performance reviews were tied to the team structure. Performance was likely directly tied to the revenue of the product the team was contributing too, and likely evenly distributed. This is typically the case when the company is thriving. So too, the ‘crisis of control’ that accompanies this stage led to the performance management changes that caused difficulty for the Vista release, political stress, and deterioration of team dynamics (Jones, 2010, p. 330). For stage 4 ‘growth through coordination’, Senior Leadership likely stepped in to reassume control and evaluate the situation to make appropriate corrections to get back on track. I lived in Washington State at that time and had many colleagues that worked at Microsoft.
As the text states, Microsoft was very secretive about its information, but I do know that there was a significant amount of reorganization and attrition that accompanied whatever changes they made during that time. There was extensive emphasis placed on getting the following product releases out the door in timely fashion, and although there appeared to be an elevated amount of bugs in the release, timelines did improve. 2.Microsoft today is most likely in the growth through collaboration stage. How do you recommend it changes its structure, culture, and control systems to solve its problems at this stage? At this stage in Greiner’s model ‘growth through collaboration’, Microsoft should begin to focus efforts for more coordination between levels of the organization.
The product team structure that Microsoft utilizes should stay intact, but the management action with teams should be less rigid and more supporting. Time to market and customer needs are paramount, and policy and process must accommodate quick response in support of these goals. The small team structure that made Microsoft the great company it is should be maintained. This composition supports an organic organizational structure that is advised at this stage to be fully effective and keep costs low.
Microsoft has transitioned through Greiner’s model of organizational growth and amassed billions in profit despite standard periods of crisis. This shows that the organizational structure and culture of Microsoft is one of strength and discipline to make adjustments as needed to continue its dominance in the marketplace. And as organizations change, the culture and its employees must adjust as well. Many innovative businesses have been spun off or benefitted from those employees that decided not to stay. For better or worse, that company has provided great gain to the technical revolution of our time.
Bill Gates. (February 18, 2012). In Bill Gates. Retrieved February 18, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gates Jones, G. R. (2010).
Organizational Theory, Design, and Change (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.
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