Microsoft has seen some of its prestige in the tech industry taken away as other companies like Apple and Google have risen to become major rivals to the company. Now, a new investigative article in the next print issue of Vanity Fair magazine puts some of the blame on Microsoft's use of "stack ranking" to evaluate its employees.
In a post on the magazine's website, it previews the article, titled, "Microsoft's Lost Decade". The article is based on what Vanity Fair says is "dozens of interviews and internal corporate records—including e-mails between executives at the company’s highest ranks." The online preview said that Microsoft's "stack ranking" policy caused innovation to be "crippled" at the company.
The article claims that Microsoft used stack ranking to put a label on its employees. Some were considered to be the best, while others were ranked as good, average and poor. According to an unnamed former software developer at Microsoft:
If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review. It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.
The website gives some examples of innovation being curtailed at Microsoft. One was a prototype for an e-reader device that was made back in 1998. However, an unnamed programmer for the project said that Microsoft chairman Bill Gates didn't move forward with the e-reader project, saying, "He didn’t like the user interface, because it didn’t look like Windows."
However, we have seen a bit of a resurgence of Microsoft in the past couple of years in terms of interest from people wanting to work at the company. In June, we reported that a recent survey from the careers site Glassdoor said that Microsoft was the second most desirable place to be an intern, with Google as the number one company.
Source: Vanity Fair