Microsoft or the art of resilience

by bold-lichterman

This Tuesday, my company will have the pleasure of broadcasting live streaming Satya Nadella during his visit to Microsoft Experiences, having broadcast Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer for the past ten years. Three men, three different styles, three different visions. One company. Microsoft. A little more than twenty years that Microsoft has been for me a strategic partner of my companies. The influence that Microsoft will have had on me is immense.

If I had to remember one thing from Microsoft, it would be the art of resilience. Microsoft, like all companies, regularly makes mistakes: strategic, tactical, operational. For many others, these mistakes are fatal. Empires have collapsed sometimes in just ten years over a few bad decisions. But there is an ability at Microsoft to rotate the liner fully, quickly. When everyone predicts the end of the Redmond giant, it is often unaware that he has already understood and that he has launched a “pivot” on 120,000 people. Sometimes several successive pivots. Microsoft is today the world leader in SaaS ahead of SalesForce while in the 90s it had missed the turn of the Internet. Since the arrival of Satya Nadella, the group has achieved an unprecedented change. A total change of mind. The arrival of marketing and social media giants (Adobe, Sprinklr, etc.) on Microsoft Azure, the deployment of 5,000 people on artificial intelligence, the launch of a galaxy of applications in the Office universe, the arrival from Hololens, the takeover of LinkedIn: Microsoft is on all fronts, and those who criticized it for its monolithic character are the same who now criticize it for “going all over the place”. What if the Redmond giant prepared the pieces of a huge puzzle that fits together like a steamroller?

Because that’s the other big lesson I like to learn from this business: the steamroller execution of a strategy. Using scorecards sent to subsidiaries, teams, individuals and even suppliers, everyone knows precisely what they have to do so that in the end, all together, the boat has rotated and is at maximum speed in the new strategy. Microsoft certainly does not have a monopoly on “cool & trendy”, its products are not perfect, nevertheless: there is in this company an unwavering desire to learn from its mistakes, to adjust the focus and then to roll out the strategy with exceptional rigor and humility, which have always inspired me.


jlbenardGraduated from Ecole Centrale Paris, founder in 1994 of the digital agency FRA, sold 7 years later to Digitas, Jean-Louis Bénard participated in the implementation of the first e-commerce platforms in France, including Ooshop.

Since 2003, he has been CEO of Brainsonic, digital agency and publisher of the Sociabble cloud platform, present in Paris, Lyon and New York. He is also co-founder of Novathings (connected objects). Author or co-author of several works including Extreme Programming (Eyrolles), he acts as an Advisory Board Member at Ecole Centrale Paris Executive Education.

Photo credit: Fotolia, royalty-free stock images, vectors and videos