Steve Ballmer has been chatting with Mary-Jo Foley over the past few weeks. “I pride myself on the fact that we do make a lot of money,” Ballmer said. He gave out some his top five management tips, that might help you do the same:
- Make sure you see the whole playing field
- “If the CEO doesn’t see the playing field, nobody else can,” Ballmer said. “The team may need to see it too, but the CEO really needs to be able to see the entire competitive space.”
- “Ten years from now, will devices look the same as they look today or quite different? And will they be funded primarily by gross margin on the device or will it all be just ads and commerce from guys like Google and Amazon” he asked. “The truth is, whoever sits in the CEO seat needs to have enough perspective to have an intelligent opinion.”
- “You’d better see enough of the landscape to say, ‘We’re going to take this, and we’re going to make money, and we’re going to have great innovation for that,’ ” he said.
- Don’t pin hopes on a single individual or “dream team”
- “It’s not like you want to say, Hey, look, I’ve hired three of the best people, and I’m just going to leave them completely alone, and then great things are going to happen,” Ballmer said. “You have to mesh them with other people. You’ve got to mesh them with yourself.”
- “People selection is key, moving people on is key, and not viewing people as individuals, sort of artisans to be left alone, in any job, in any one of the jobs,” Ballmer said.
- It is a myth that a company is built on the backs of a few superstars who “go and get the tablets from the mount and bring them back.” “We tried it,” Ballmer said. “We tried it with me and Bill for a while. We’re better when we have very talented people who we also stitch together.”
- Realize there’s no perfect business model perfect for every era
- “There was a day when people said all the money is in software; get out of hardware. Well, the two most profitable companies this year in our business will be hardware companies,” “Then somebody will say, Oh, it’s all about advertising.” “Some guys really do make good advertising money, but some businesses are poorly funded,”
- Don’t place only long-term or only short-term bets
- “Getting the big things right that make all the money, that’s long cycle,” he said. But “really executing in a way that allows you to do it, that’s short cycle.”
- A CEO’s focus needs to be on “determining correct cadence of strategy, correct cadence of engineering, and correct cadence of execution.”
- Know your limits
- “I obviously understand the business stuff better than the technology stuff,” Ballmer concluded. But “I’ve grown, and when you grow, you say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.’”