“On January 24th, Apple Computers will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.” This famous quote as we know is from an iconic Macintosh ad.
Very much tied to the above is this principle of being a learn it all vs being a know it all. Microsoft in the 1980’s was different from the 2000’s. Microsoft dominated and had monopoly on many fronts, especially with their cash cow – Windows. But the 2000’s was Microsoft’s lost decade, where it seemed to lose touch with its customers. Waves of new innovations from Google and Apple threatened Microsoft’s very existence, often labelled “not cool” or not as innovative as it’s born in the cloud peers.
Fast forward to 2014, Hit Refresh. Microsoft was able to loosen their ego, hit refresh and change the game before it was too late. The new game was to be a “learn- it-all” company rather than a “know-it-all” one. This was not just about the company, but it started to be the “new normal” for the employees too. It definitely was not an overnight shift, because it is impossible to unlearn years of wrong behaviour in a day, but gradually people at Microsoft started looking at every day as a new day, filled with learning, exploring and experimenting as the norm.
A clear parallel can be drawn between the George Floyd incident (and the black vs white divide in general) and what we see in India – especially fresh in memory is the incident in 2018 when a 27-year-old Adivasi man in Palakkad district’s Attappady region, was beaten to death. The crime he committed was stealing food. But if you look deeper, there is more to it. Why did the man have to steal food? Of course, because he was poor. Why was he poor? Isn’t that because of the social divide and injustice that exists in our society? His community was living peacefully in the forest minding their own business, when people from outside went in, took their land, took their livelihood, and even made them do work for them. And now we go back to say they are the ones who stole our food, and then go one step further and kill them! Sounds familiar? This is exactly the social injustice story in the US! Considering all that, empathy, is what we all need, now more than ever before. This is very much on each one of us to own and be responsible for. Change begins with us.
Each day brings with it a great opportunity to learn. All we must do is let go of our ego, ask questions, listen with the intent to learn, course correct if needed and grow. The personal reflections for me are a few questions that we need to find answers to. Each of us will move on, to new roles, new teams, new companies, but what is the legacy we all leave behind in the place we are now? Were we more gracious? Did we give people the benefit of the doubt? Did we treat our teammate with respect? Did we take the time to listen?