Four weeks ago, I packed up my office at Microsoft for the last time. In the quiet calm of a clear calendar, I had a chance to survey the 13 years I spent at the company, looking for the most important tidbits that I’d take with me. I ended up posting them as parting thoughts for the coworkers I was leaving behind.
They turned out to be pretty popular, so I’m sharing them here again, along with some of my favorite books that expand on the ideas.
1. Think Big. Start Small. Move Fast.
This little phrase has been popping up all over lately, attributed to multiple sources. At Microsoft, we like to say that we hold a bias for action, but in fact, I’ve seen that it is more common for us to get stuck making the perfect plan and struggle to get started. Then, once we feel good about our plan, that same certainty can blind us to new opportunities. A better approach is to get clear about the big impacts we want to have, make quick incremental steps and see how they work out. That way, it’s easier to adjust as we go and we deliver value faster with less risk.
The Lean Startup, Eric Ries
2. Diversity and Specialization Lead to Innovation
If you work with someone who is just like you, one of you isn’t necessary. It’s only when we start with different perspectives that we have a chance to learn from each other. Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to convince someone with a different perspective to join your camp, which sort of defeats the purpose of having diverse views. Start by understanding, then seek to be understood. Try talking less and drawing more. Pay attention when other people do this, and be willing to be inspired. I’m always amazed at the quality of new ideas that are born from these behaviors.
3. Follow Your Passions
Doing things just because they need to be done isn’t good for you and it isn’t good for the company you work for. If you aren’t energized by the work that you are doing, find something else to do. You’ll feel better and you’ll do a better job.
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink
4. Measure Value
Passion isn’t enough. What you do has to make a difference. It isn’t easy to measure what matters, but it’s always possible. Make a habit of asking how you would measure the impact of your work.
How to Measure Anything, Douglas Hubbard
5. Learn How to Win
Too often, we get fixated on where we are failing, how we aren’t having the influence we want, or where others are falling short of what we’d like them to do. It’s easy to miss all the things they are doing right, all the progress and all the improvements we’ve made. Celebrate small wins and they will lead to bigger ones. It’s a lot more fun and inspiring for everyone than the alternatives, and it’s a lot more impactful to boot.
Switch, Chip and Dan Heath
Want more? Check out the fortune cookie series.