Microsoft: Transformation is not a one-off event

Microsoft is five years into its digital and cultural transformation explaining it’s a continual journey that must involve all stakeholders from the top down.
By: | November 13, 2019

US tech giant Microsoft started its transformation five years ago. It wasn’t just a corporate transformation but a digital transformation and a cultural one too. And rather than being a one-off seasonal exercise, it’s an on-going process that has no deadline.

“The world we are in is changing fast, we needed to change with it – but we needed a compelling reason. As our CEO, Satya Nadella, puts it – we needed to find out who we were, why we were and to consider what the world would look like without us. In short – we needed to rediscover our soul,” said Vivek Ravindran, Senior Director, Modern Workplace APAC at Microsoft.

For any kind of transformation to be successful a cultural transformation (changing the mindset of employees) is needed, according to Microsoft. And leaders should view this as a journey, not a short-term project. These were the key messages Microsoft wanted to get across to guests at an exclusive breakfast briefing at HRM Asia’s CHRO Series 2019 in Singapore on Wednesday.

“We anchored our culture on a growth mindset, on a learning living culture,” added Ravindran. “This means anyone can change learn and grow. We believe potential is nurtured and not pre-determined. We should always be learning and curious. We should try things and not be afraid to fail’’.

Microsoft identified four attributes for a growth mindset to flourish. These included obsessing over what matters to customers, becoming more diverse and inclusive, operating as one company instead of multiple siloed businesses and making a difference in the lives of colleagues, customers and the world.

Davina Yeo, Microsoft’s Chief of Staff for Asia Pacific, explained the secret to its transformation success story so far has been its continual focus on its people. ‘’The big question for us was how do we bring employees along in this transformation? So we started a dialogue and made it a two-way thing, constantly listening to our employees through various tools.’’

Microsoft has dramatically transformed its business model in what has been one of the most impressive corporate turnarounds in recent history. It is now heavily focused on cloud computing and AI, and has made some smart acquisitions, including LinkedIn and GitHub.