Recently, I was in a training course where discussions and deliberations were happening around organisational behaviours, roles of leadership and in general outlook to the soft powers. In the end, for further reading all the participants were gifted with “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella.
Not that Satya Nadella needs any introduction, he is the current CEO of Microsoft Corporation succeeding from Steve Balmer and Bill Gates. He was the executive vice president of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise group, responsible for building and running the company’s computing platforms.
Recently, when I was clearing up my book stand and was going through my books. I stumbled upon “Hit Refresh” and started reading couple of pages. Within couple of a pages, it felt like one needs to read this book cover-to-cover. Hence, I ended up reading it in a week’s time.
Firstly, I would like to compliment the author and book editors for wonderful choice of words and text. Satya N has marvellously intertwined his anecdotes with personal experience, management methodologies and futuristic vision. What attracted me the most, he discussed and admitted shortcomings and implosions of his personal and professional lives in detail (There are hardly people who do that these days). One of the fundamentals which he has mentioned across various parts of the book is about “How Empathy is pivotal for Innovation”. The societal impact of “Mixed reality”, “AI” and “Quantum Computing” envisaged in upcoming times were elaborated by him at length. Certain key takeaways which I felt are relevant today are following:
- Empathy is key to innovation
- Happiness is fundamental to success, Complacency is fundamental to failure.
- Concept-Capabilities-Culture Principle: ‘Concept’ – An organisation can have a conceptual vision, a dream filled with new ideas and approaches. Does it have ‘Capabilities’ and eventually if successful it gets ingrained in organisational ‘Culture’.
- Cultural Uplift: Culture can be a vague and amorphous term. Idea of culture is multifaceted, ‘a kind of social unconscious’. Culture is a complex system and result of collective individual mindsets. Changes to culture can be very painful. The fundamental source of resistance if fear of unknown. One must influence change individual mindsets to impact organisational fabric. Hence, it will be easier and more impacting if it comes from the top.
- Growth Mindset: As quoted in the book, a growth mindset enables you to better anticipate and react to uncertainties. Fear of the unknown can send you in a million directions and sometimes to dead-ends with inertia. That’s where, you need to innovate in the face of fear and inertia. One needs to be willing to take risks, and to move quickly when one makes mistakes, recognizing failures soon enough. Sometimes it feels like a bird learning to fly. You flap around for a while and then you run around. Learning to fly is not pretty but flying is.
- Don’t let past dictate the contours of future.
- The classic innovator’s dilemma: To risk existing success while pursuing new opportunities. Microsoft had exceedingly succeeded in putting a computer in every home and Microsoft office in hands of everyone. Why risk that success to new unknown opportunities like cloud technology or Quantum computing.
- Need of Geneva Convention for digital and cyber world. Currently, institutions and governments are grappling with treatment of cyber-security and privacy. This is majorly because each one of sovereigns are in different paths of absorption of cybernetics. However, the world needs some sort of standardizing principles which then can be followed by everyone leading to quicker and faster redressal to fight terrorism and cybercrimes.
- Make partnerships, you cannot survive in isolation.
In the end, what I liked the most is the ‘Afterword’ from Satya Nadella. The afterword contained the source and intention to write this book. He admitted, writing this book has been a heavily intense, intellectual and introspective experience.
‘Hit Refresh’ is according to Nadella, not a biography, nor it is a book solely about himself and his vision. Its not really about technology although it does feature a lot. Nor it is a book about leading the most challenging corporations of the world with daunting past and even more daunting future. I think it is about how personal experiences and transformations impact organisational cultures and growth trajectories.
With this, the book will go back into my personal collections. Please do let me know if you need to borrow.