Microsoft’s New Mission: To Create Real Teamwork, Not Just Teams

Rick Wartzman
Rick Wartzman

In his latest online column for Time magazine, Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman comments on Microsoft’s newly announced reorganization, which “is designed chiefly to encourage more cooperation and collaboration across the corporation.”

What this means in practice, Wartzman writes, is that a high-level corporate “champion” will lead “each major initiative” (whether a product or service) by organizing things so as “to drive a cross-company team for success.”

“But as Peter Drucker knew well,” Wartzman adds, “establishing teams on paper and fostering genuine teamwork are two entirely different matters.”

Wartzman says that Microsoft seems to face two particular challenges, including its sheer size. If a team gets much larger than 15 members, “it becomes unwieldy,” Drucker advised. “Its strengths, such as flexibility and the sense of responsibility of the members, diminish. Its limitations—lack of clarity, communication problems, over-concern with its internal relationships—become crippling weaknesses.”

Another area of difficulty, Wartzman says, will be to cultivate trust among employees in Microsoft’s eight product divisions, which “have been infamous for their inability to get along.”

Writes Wartzman: “Rivalries and jealousies cannot be eliminated by the stroke of a pen.” As Drucker wrote, moving into a new kind of team structure “demands giving up old and treasured human relationships. It means abandoning what people have always considered ‘our community’ or ‘our family.’”