April 13, 2018

Book Reflection: Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella

I wanted to follow up my last book reflection with another one that focused on how culture can help shape a company. This book, written by Microsoft's current CEO Satya Nadella, talks about his vision for Microsoft and how he has helped lead the iconic company to turn around, "hit refresh" and look to the future.

Hit Refresh by Satya Nadella

The book itself is an easy read with Mr. Nadella talking about his own experiences as an immigrant and how his experience helped shape his views and perspective. He also talks extensively about his leadership experiences at Microsoft and how he landed the CEO job by being himself.

The most interesting part of the book is when he describes how he was able to change the culture and mindset at Microsoft. Quite a feat considering that Microsoft was already one of the largest and most successful companies in the world when he took the title CEO.

Some things that I found very interesting:
  • We should always have an open mindset. Be open to receiving feedback - both positive and negative. Learning about a shortcoming should be a thrilling moment. Someone who is honest enough to let you know of a shortcoming has given you the gift of insight. We should then take this and work on improving and becoming better.
  • Don't be afraid to embrace the new. While Windows was Microsoft's biggest money maker, Mr. Nadella made a bet early in his tenure as CEO that cloud technologies would be the future for the company. He reorganized the company around making sure that this new bet would get all the support it could. We see this even until today - a few weeks ago it was announced that the head of Windows was leaving and that a management reorg was underway.
  • Making the work people do at Microsoft matter to them personally. It was no longer people working for Microsoft, but Microsoft working for its employees. Mr. Nadella worked to take away the notion that Microsoft was this big, corporate giant who made more enemies than friends. Mr. Nadella started working with competitors in different fields, having more intimate relationships with customers and empowering local employees to take on projects and utilize cloud technology to help local communities. 

At the end of the book, Mr. Nadella talks about his thoughts on AI and how human life can be improved by it. He throws out the popular pop culture notion that AI is bad and that robots will replace humans. He sees AI integrating and making our lives easier instead of some Hollywood movie where AI robots take over the world.

He also talked about how local leaders should be embracing the small startups in their community. Most of the time, politicians try to woo large companies like Microsoft to set up shop but overlook what might be the next big thing right under their noses. Creating a culture that enables small companies to thrive and grow will be important to bringing development to all parts of the world.

I really liked the book and it was refreshing to hear from a leader who does not fit the traditional mold. I'm now a big fan of Mr. Nadella and I look forward to seeing more positive momentum coming out of his team at Microsoft.