Microsoft as a Learning Org LO9971

Frank Billot (
Sat, 14 Sep 1996 23:24:43 +0200

Replying to LO9799 --

Elizabeth Reed-Torrence wrote=20

> I do not mean to take us off topic but to use Microsoft as an example of
>an LO when what I see and read about MS is arrogance, pure arrogance...
>gives me pause.=20

Elisabeth, I fully agree with you. IMO Microsoft is a learning
organisation in that it is constantly adapting its offer to the market
needs. But it is reading its environment under the sole paradigm of market
domination. I think it is a linear approach that forgets the affective
dimension of purchasing.

It seems to me that more people see Microsoft as some kind of Big Brother
and tend to become reactive. This side effect of arrogance may play tricks
to Microsoft in the future.

So the point that seems to emerge for me is that learning works at many
levels. One may learn from one's environment but selectively, under the
guidance of a outdated paradigm.

I have another example. In the town of Carpentras (I mention it for the
pleasure of exostism), there is a small but successfull transportation
company that has been bought by a big financial company. Given the
profitability of the firm, the financial experts considered rationalising
in order to make it even more profitable. Under the only criteria of
profitability, they fired people, reorganised working processes. The
outcome has been raises in profit in the short term, and stagnation
afterwards. People had to work more, in a disrupted system, under stress,
and directed by a criteria that blinded all others (like
customers'satisfaction). As a result, their vision, their feeling of being
acknowledged, worthwhile, integrated in a society had declined, and so did
their commitment.

In my sense, by considering one ony ratio, taking for granted that the
rest would remain constant, the financial experts just thought in a linear
way, on the short term, not acknowledging one of the true competitive
advantage of the company : the quality given by the commitment of people.

I think that on top of the mental model elements that make a company
successfull lies the meaning that people can attribute to what they are
doing. Meaning is IMO like a engine to create references in a world of
continuous data. Shaking the basis on which people hold meaning is the
best means to prevent adaptation to change. I think that one of the basis
for meaning is respect and consideration for the individual. Just viewing
people as production factors does not seem to be a proper way to foster
auto-organisation, proactivity, creativity, adaptation.

So Microsoft' attitude and arrogance shows that they did not learn this
from their environment, the paradigm they are functionning through does
not allow it. It seems to be based on the belief that people are just
rational buyers. IBM due to its position has for long had such an arrogant
position. The underlying belief is maybe that buyers are more secured by a
powerful company, and that showing off power and arrogance of being number
one was the key to success. It might have prevented them from seeing that
customers would foster the development of user controlled and friendly
computers, neglecting Big blue's recommandations.

There are lots of analog examples in politics, just to mention the french
government policy.

Does it make sense ?
Frank Billot

L'exp=E9rience, ce n'est pas ce qui arrive =E0 l'individu.
C'est ce que l'individu fait de ce qui lui arrive.=20

Experience is not what happens to an individual.=20
It is what the individual makes of what happens to him.
Aldous Huxley


Frank Billot <>

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