Empowerment is a hard term to define and understand. Government bodies and other organizations tend to use the term to support the idea of development, the heart of this term relies on giving power to people and communities to control their lives and utilize their rights to their full extent. The real question that stands is: How do you go about empowering people or communities?
Microsoft, a multi-billion dollar company with millions of users around the globe, has made its mark on the world of exponential technologies and innovation. “Our mission is to empower every single person and organization to achieve more” — Microsoft, the renowned company plans on providing sophisticated computer technology and software business to empower people and organizations that could use utilize these resources to help set themselves up for success.
Increased productivity, enhanced business processes, and solutions, and taking risks are the gifts that Microsoft wishes to bestow upon the different bodies of people of the world. Before anybody can think about how they can spread these ideologies, they have to first fully ingest the terms that have been exposed so far. Productivity, a term that has been visualized in images written in stone, is one of the main stigmas that Microsoft is trying to break. It was believed that maximum efficiency in a workplace is sought through pin drop silence and a big, bad boss peering at the employees while they work, essentially a panopticon where the power comes from management through paranoia. This IT company disagrees, they believe that the most productive workplace is achieved when individuals can conveniently spread knowledge or communicate amongst their desired network. Microsoft’s most popular software such as Office 365 and One Drive, have the sole purpose of making communication smoother and efficient in workplaces. The structure of all these software points to one thing, the company’s mission statement, but that Microsoft’s mission statement is purely operational while their vision is what the mission statement points towards as the end goal. The resources that Microsoft provides that is accessible to all types of organizations and people have the purpose of organizing the steps towards success for the customers.
“Our vision is to help people and business around the world to achieve their full potential”
What Do I Want Microsoft to look like in 30 years?
Information was scarce 30 years ago, therefore those with knowledge were considered powerful and influential, that current situation has changed unlike now where information is too abundant. With the help of the internet, now reading a research article from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology doesn’t seem impossible. With so much information, should we all be influential or powerful in modern society? Why is there only one Elon Musk or Tim Cook? Why can’t everyone be an innovator?
“I arrived in North America, with $2,000, a backpack, and a suitcase filled with books”
There is one thing that separates Elon from the rest, is his mindset. It was evident he had an innovative mindset from the start, he wanted to create and he dropped out of Stanford to continue his passion. 30 years is a huge time for development, with change comes new visions plus new goals and writing from a CEO’s perspective, the new vision statement would be to inspire innovation in the minds of people and organizations across the globe.
How do we achieve this vision?
Visions aren’t achieved overnight, they are nurtured throughout several operations or missions. There are multiple components to this vision, but the initial mission statement is going to be “removing all obstacles that do not align with an open mindset in companies and communities across the globe”. What can we develop in order to initiate this mission?
As the CEO of Microsoft, I would:
- Improve Workplaces
- Develop a Culture
- Better Education and Provide Opportunities
1) Improve Workplaces
When we envision workplaces today, there is a clear image of essentially a Panopticon, where there are employees that cower before the boss, who acts as a watchman. This gives the boss power through paranoia, it provides room for zero creativity, collaboration, and change and really doubles as a prison. If maximum efficiency is the problem, then it will never be achieved through workplaces like these, but instead through a workplace that is created by assessing the individual and for the purpose of exchanging knowledge. An ideal workplace is an environment that facilitates the flow of knowledge and encourages creativity, how do we know that this mission is obtainable?
Microsoft spreads the idea of this ideal workplace to different companies in North America and it seems to be really impacting the way people view their offices. My vision statement has a global audience, requires importance in several areas in the world where workplaces can often be compared to hell for the employees. AT&T had 32,000 employees stay home on September 20th, 1994, not due to any strike or protest but just because employees are telecommuting, where they work away from their designated office.
This example signifies two things:
- A comfortable working environment is an essential component that builds to productivity
- Employees with the necessary resources would prefer to stay at home rather than commute to work
Improving workplaces doesn’t mean redesigning the idea of offices, but adopting new and efficient methods of enabling employees to work from anywhere they find suitable to work. There are many conditions that companies must meet in order to comply with alternative workspaces, first the company must be assessed whether it is industrial or informational. Industrial-based companies that require face to face interaction and employees that remain rooted in fixed positions have very restrictive alternative workspace arrangements. Informational companies, like IBM and AT&T, that operate through data and voice communications then must evaluate if an alternative workspace is ideal. There are several questions that could help companies see it would benefit them such as: are you committed to change in operation methods? Or do you have an open culture and proactive managers?
In terms of my methods in order to convey this message to places that still have traditional workplaces, every office I build if even necessary would encourage social interaction between coworkers even whiteboards in cafes can help any potential ideas, that were accelerated in mere conversations, sprout into full effect. Wider hallways would make it easier for people to stop and talk, trivial things like this can remove any obstacles in the way of creativity that exists in many workplaces. Considering the evolving digital world, seminars on using the cloud and other helpful applications like Office 365, Word, and Excel, for example, will be implemented to encourage telecommuting. Bringing these types of solutions to the global scale have been justified by Microsoft already, for they already expanded these ideas in North America where we can see these ideologies in full effect. This mission: bringing alternative workplace initiatives to informational companies across the world that still rely on traditional workplaces.
2) Develop a Culture
The attitude employees carry with them in workplaces is as equally important as the environment that surrounds them. Innovative culture is the work environment that leaders cultivate in order to facilitate unorthodox thinking and application, as the CEO of Microsoft I would cultivate a culture of innovation by encouraging quick action and fueling interest in innovative ideas.
When cultivating a truly innovative culture, you must be willing to encourage action on innovative ideas, not just continuous conceptual chatter. By quick action, I don’t mean every single idea should go directly to prototyping, but the best ideas should be supported data and acted upon with an informed decision. How do we encourage this?
Alternative workplaces are one of many ideas, in a workplace that supports conversing and communication will accelerate these ideas because it would get several inputs from various sources, but before we can take quick action of these ideas we must generate them first. That would mean inspiring creativity in each and every single employee, that’s the entire basis of an innovative culture. This comes from empowering employees to come up with ideas that change the company, instead of treating them like workhorses. I would provide a certain time throughout the day for employees to just focus on generating ideas they think that could affect the company and beyond, then executing those ideas and creating a product that will benefit the company. I would also give the resources to small businesses and corporations the resources to proceed with executing some of these ideas, when you show employees that their hard work and thinking is rewarded then it inspires to continue innovating with a passion.
Google allows engineers to spend 20% of their time to work on any project they want to. When you allow people to work on something that interests them, productivity will go up and it has. Google reports that 50% of its projects were derived during this creative time period, such as Gmail or Google News. Google, a fierce competitor of Microsoft has experimented with this method, was successful in cultivating an innovative culture within its company, but I want to implement this idea on a global scale. This idea is justified through Google’s methods of creating an innovative culture, productivity comes through interest and it is also justified that when implementing such an idea on a global scale, employees will realize the company depends on their commitment to innovation and this will inspire and fuel their interest to continue innovating. This mission: allowing employees to indulge in orthodox thinking and its application will cultivate an innovative culture by piquing interest.
3) Educate and Provide Opportunities
In terms of a global scale, we don’t see enough innovation in some parts of the world, this could be because of a variety of reasons. When we look at how we can change these areas to provide better living conditions, we must investigate the reason behind it. In a lot of underdeveloped or developing countries, innovation is a concept that isn’t widely understood or supported, because people are not comfortable with change, they believe they are not in a position to take risks. This is a mindset that can be changed when people realize change and risk is the only way they can help themselves, and the only way we can reach out to them is by educating and opportunities.
In order to educate and provide opportunities I would:
- Building Schools and Providing Resources
- Building New Microsoft Workplaces
Initially, I would focus on the next generation’s mindset rather than the present generation because changing the thoughts of an entire generation starts in the present and applies in the future. Children growing up in underdeveloped and developing areas may not have access to a school or the proper curriculum that would allow the idea of innovation. I would first build schools in these types of areas and give them all the academic resources that they need such as laptops, paper, writing utensils, desks, etc. and a curriculum that would encourage creative thinking and its applications. In most developing areas, there are plentiful schools but the students going to them learn through methods that were implemented 50 years ago where the opening and closing textbooks mark the beginning and end of classes. I would implement a curriculum that would reflect the ideals of the new world, where innovative thinking is supported are nurtured. Other pressing problems in schools with such surrounding conditions are the teachers because most of the time the teachers are not qualified or do not care. I would also employ Microsoft specialists to lead these schools, where they can create a better learning environment for these schools by cultivating an innovation culture.
When we cultivate this idea of innovation within these children, they will carry it throughout their lives, but it will be harder for them to do so when certain conditions force them to let go of it. In these areas, families of low income are looking to make more money to support their household, this would mean parents forcing children to work from an early age. It wouldn’t be fair to inspire the next generation to do something, without guiding them onto a path. The method that I would use to guide these children is by expanding the Microsoft workplace. More Microsoft offices in these locations would not only expand the business but also it would require jobs from people that have these mindsets, the mindsets that we have been cultivating in the children from a young age. When we give the next generation this opportunity, not only can they make money to support their families, but they will also be rewarded and appreciated for their innovative ideas.
Microsoft’s flagship school initiative is an idea of the same caliber, it was successful being set up in several underdeveloped places around the world. My idea is extending this value to an extent where it will expand the business, provide financial security to families, and most importantly build an innovative mindset. I am confident that my idea will contribute to the total hitting vision that we have, these schools and experienced educators will better the education and by extension the condition of these underdeveloped and developing places. Meanwhile, these new workplaces will provide more income for low-income families, and support the next generation’s mindset that this initiative will build. The operation here would be: reinventing education that has proper structure and mindsets and application opportunities in these locations.
Visions are rarely achieved with only determination and grit, resources play a huge role in success. What resources does Microsoft have to aid with this vision?
Microsoft is an IT company that is at the forefront of exponential technologies, this means that Mircosoft would have an influence on a global scale not only other tech companies. Microsoft is in every home and works place, this means it has been an integral part of social change and world affairs. One of the biggest resources that Microsoft has is an influence, the company’s actions create a ripple effect throughout the rest of the community because everybody wants to mimic the success that Microsoft has reached today. As the CEO of this company, my initiatives will be replicated in different companies, what this does is extend the mindset and ideologies to different companies and locations across the world. How will influence aid with my vision?
As a wealthy company, when we choose to invest in something so do other big companies whether it be for fame, profit, or social work. If we choose to work on better workplaces, culturing, and education then other wealthy companies will follow. When we have multiple resourceful companies working towards one goal, then the progress of achieving that goal is drastically improved. An analogy would be in a workplace that supports collaboration, where multiple employees work towards a goal.
Talking about wealth, Microsoft generated an astounding 110.84 billion dollars in 2018. Money is a plentiful resource, part of this money will go into better workplaces, culturing, and better education. There are several forms of how this money can be efficiently used. One process would be, millions of dollars can be expended to engineers that will redesign workplaces that have all the aspects to form proper communications and transfer of knowledge better. Another process would be, using this funding to build schools and implement the helpful technology that Microsoft has developed in classrooms, also hiring these experienced experts to lead these schools with proper structure and mindset.
My 30-year vision for the company would be to inspire innovation in the minds of people and organizations across the world. My vision will be brought to life through several missions, the initial operation is: removing all obstacles that do not align with an open mindset in companies and communities across the globe. My plan envisions:
- Improve Workplaces
- Develop a Culture
- Better Education and Provide Opportunities
My vision has an impact of billions across the globe, it inspires people all over the world to self-sustain by innovation, it guides them to take everything in life with an open mindset.