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Takeaways from Satya Nadella's Hit Refresh


Like many of you, I have used Microsoft’s products for a long time. Windows was the first operating system I used. I myself started using Windows even before I knew what operating systems were. Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint were the first few applications I learned to use as part of my computer literacy. Similarly MSN (those of you who still remember it) and hotmail were the first chat and email accounts I used.

However, a few years ago after numerous bad experiences with Windows Operating Systems (OS) including the infamous Windows Vista and my increasing admiration of Apple products, like the iPhone and iPod, I finally bought a Macbook Pro. Consequently I started using Apple’s productivity suite of Pages, Numbers and Keynote for my personal use. However, I still continued to rely on Windows OS and Microsoft Applications at work. This is because most of the companies I worked for continued to rely heavily on Microsoft products. Thus I continued to use Microsoft products.

But recently with the introduction of Onedrive and Office 365 I find myself re-engaging with Microsoft’s products again for my personal use and even considering purchasing a Microsoft Surface as my next personal computer. In the news, I have read a lot about Microsoft’s resurgence as their stocks soared and they reached the coveted one trillion market cap.

This motivated me to read the book, Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella, the current CEO of Microsoft. I wanted to learn more about the story behind Microsoft’s resurgence under Satya Nadella’s leadership. I just finished the book and I wanted to share three takeaways from the book.

1. Impermanence
I first came across this concept of impermanence in meditation while using the popular app called Headspace. There was an entire session dedicated to impermanence. Impermanence refers to the idea that “things change” and “nothing is permanent”. This can be tied with both success and failure. Satya Nadella used impermanence to highlight the fact that as individuals and leaders we should acknowledge the concept of impermanence in our lives. We should use our understanding of impermanence to stay humble when we acquire success and stay strong when we encounter failures. We should also use impermanence to resist our fear of failures and try new things. He reinforces that like everything else in nature failures doesn’t last and we can learn a lot from our failures. I felt he wanted to imply that this extends to an organization like Microsoft as well and I felt his belief in impermanence is ingrained in numerous strategies he discussed in the book. This included his strategies of inviting customers to Microsoft’s Executive Team retreats and showcasing Microsoft products in Apple events ( you can see the video here).

2. The three C’s 
The three C’s stands for Concept, Capability and Culture. The three C’s is typically represented as three concentric circles with Concept at the centre, Capability as the second circle and Culture as the outermost circle. Satya Nadella used the concept of three Cs to describe the importance of Capability and most importantly Culture to implement a new Concept in an organization. He explained that his concept was to implement a cloud first strategy in Microsoft. However in order to successfully implement the concept he needed to ensure that Microsoft has the capability to execute the strategy and most importantly Microsoft had the culture to adopt the strategy. He emphasized that having the right culture is most important for successfully executing a strategy. I found this a timely lesson. Currently I am in a team which is trying to adopt Agile Software Development Process and the three Cs reminds me the importance of the capability of the team to adopt the new process and most importantly the culture of the team and stakeholders to ensure the adoption is successful.

3. Growth mindset 
For me, this is one of the key takeaways from the book. Satya Nadella reiterates the concept of Growth mindset throughout his book. I felt this is tied to the concept of impermanence i.e. things are constantly changing and as individuals and organizations we need to constantly grow to adapt to the ongoing changes. Satya Nadella discusses how he took initiatives like Microsoft Hackathon to instill the importance of Growth mindset within the organization.

In conclusion Microsoft products has been a constant presence in my life since my childhood and learning the story and concepts behind Microsoft’s resurgence over the last few years has been fascinating journey.

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