Microsoft Cut Ties

Working near Silicon Valley I heard a fascinating anecdote about the value of aligned cultural values.

A CEO told me about the fun Microsoft engineers used to have with visiting reps back in the day.

Each prospective vendor wore suits and ties. This was not the way at Microsoft.

They seemed to feel that the first time anyone showed up suited and booted was alright, after all, how were they to know about the new way of life. But continually coming around dressed that way was just plain rude. It almost said ‘I don’t care about you, I’m the only one serious about business here, just look at my tie’.

So what was their response?

Well, it appears that a prominent noticeboard was taken over. Pinned to it were a bunch of ties. Each one only half a tie, mind. As the engineers took pleasure in taking a pair of scissors to ties of the offenders, snipping them in two and displaying the result on their trophy board.

Whilst we might have moved on from an unhealthy, novelty fixation with a useless piece of cloth randomly wrapped around our necks, there still remain many idiosyncrasies that we are probably unaware betray us as not on the same wavelength as our prospect.

It could be in the docs we send. How we show a slide deck (urgh). The way we convene a meeting.

How closely are you really in tune to your prospect’s culture?

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