By Noah Graff
I hate PCs with a passion and generally love Apple products, my iPhone in particular. It gave me great pleasure to see a recent story in the Wall Street Journal that said 10 percent of workers at Microsoft use the iPhone. The article was inspired after a tactless Microsoft employee used his iPhone to take a photo of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for at an all-company meeting at a Seattle sports stadium.
According to people present at the event, Ballmer snatched the iPhone out of the employee’s hands, placed it on the ground and pretended to stomp on it in front of thousands of Microsoft workers.
When the topic of Microsoft employees using iPhones is broached, Ballmer brings up growing up in Michigan where his father worked at a Ford plant, and that his family only drove Fords.
Lets sit back and ask ourselves now, why should a person buy a Ford or any product for that matter? Is it to benefit the American economy? Create jobs? Because you believe the product is great?
All three are valid reasons, but unless the employees who create that product say the third reason, the company that makes that product is in trouble.
According to the article almost 100 percent of Apple employees only use iPhones (at least at the office). Ballmer, however, to discourage iPhone use in early 2009 modified Microsoft’s corporate cellphone policy to only reimburse service fees for employees using phones that run on Windows Phone software. As I said before, I’m a PC hater and Apple lover, and I smile when I think about Microsoft having to discourage its own employees from using a competitor’s product by force.
Microsoft execs should be scared that they have the urge to create policies like that. If employees don’t believe in what they are creating, if they don’t think what they are creating is great or good enough for their own use, then the only thing they are there for is the paycheck. If they are only there for the paycheck then they are not going to try very hard, or take pride in what they’re doing. They won’t care if the company succeeds or not.
So when a company’s products have fallen in quality, and the world has realized the products have become inferior, it takes a special person to be able to come into the company and convince its employees to believe in what they are doing again. Until employees, and owners as well, truly believe what they are doing is great, their company will not be able to revive itself. But history has shown it’s possible. Apple did it 10 years ago. Hopefully Ford and GM are doing it now.
Microsoft is a special case because of its incredible monopoly. It has been able to remain substandard and still make a lot of money over the years. But if the monopoly becomes depleted, and if the employees stop believing what they are creating, Microsoft may be destined for failure.
Question: Would you use the product or service that you create in your job? Do you or your employees care about what they are doing?
Steve Ballmer of Microsoft