Ray Ozzie is a legend. Bill Gates rated him as one of the five best programmers in the world. Ray created Lotus Notes – the popular email and collaborative workspace solutions in the world. Ray succeeded Bill Gates as the Chief Software Architect when Bill decided to leave Microsoft. He is truly a visionary and I had found his earlier memo The Internet services disruption very interesting
Now as Ray prepares to leave Microsoft, he has penned a farewell memo titled Dawn of a new Day. It makes interested reading as he explains several new shifts about where the “post PC world” is headed.
When I read both the memos I get a feeling that despite the 5 years that he spent there and his exhortation for changing, he hasn’t been effective enough. After his routine praise of Microsoft, he makes a subtle but pointed criticism of Microsoft’s business model when he says:
Yet, for all our great progress, some of the opportunities I laid out in my memo five years ago remain elusive and are yet to be realized.
Certain of our competitors’ products and their rapid advancement & refinement of new usage scenarios have been quite noteworthy. Our early and clear vision notwithstanding, their execution has surpassed our own in mobile experiences, in the seamless fusion of hardware & software & services, and in social networking & myriad new forms of internet-centric social interaction.
There is also a veiled pointer to Microsoft’s seemingly glaring weakness of not being able to conceive the future when he says:
In our industry, if you can imagine something, you can build it. We at Microsoft know from our common past – even the past five years – that if we know what needs to be done, and if we act decisively, any challenge can be transformed into a significant opportunity. And so, the first step for each of us is to imagine fearlessly; to dream.
The one irrefutable truth is that in any large organization, any transformation that is to ‘stick’ must emerge from within. Those on the outside can strongly influence, particularly with their wallets. Those above are responsible for developing and articulating a compelling vision, eliminating obstacles, prioritizing resources, and generally setting the stage with a principled approach.
But the power and responsibility to truly effect transformation exists in no small part at the edge. Within those who, led or inspired, feel personally and collectively motivated to make; to act; to do.
In taking the time to read this, most likely it’s you.
At times, it almost seems that he is endorsing Google’s strategy and technology approach.