ThinkWeek RTW

Released to the internal web (RTW) anyway J

Much of my delay in blogging has been because I’ve been busy with trying to keep that “work life balance” and something had to give. J In a couple previous posts, I un-characteristically wrote in a style that was a bit more than “just the facts, Jack”. And while I didn’t receive any feedback on my sprinkling in some human attributes in the writings, I have decided to get back to what you may want to know about Microsoft (via my teams’ charter). Unless inquiring minds really want to know more about me (Follow me on Twitter? – Not). While I have led an interesting life and have many stories to tell (just ask anyone ;-) I find it hard to believe anyone would want to follow me for anything other than nefarious reasons.

The ThinkWeek site is an Intranet (internal) site and cannot be found on the public Internet. This is due in part, to the Intellectual Property (IP) contained on this site.

What is ThinkWeek?

ThinkWeek is a long-standing tradition at Microsoft, initiated by Bill Gates. It is an open and voluntary forum that enables any Microsoft employee to share his or her thoughts and ideas in the form of a well-researched and thoughtfully written paper, typically ranging from 5-15 pages that will be circulated among leaders in the company.

ThinkWeek offers Microsoft employees the opportunity to communicate their ideas and to network with other employees in the company. It is grounded in the premise that sharing diverse ideas and great thinking are key elements of maintaining our competitive advantage and thought leadership around the world. Participation in ThinkWeek enables any employee to become part of the rich legacy of great thinking at Microsoft as it builds a culture of well-articulated thought.

While ThinkWeek participation is rewarding, it can also be a demanding endeavor and it is considered work that goes above and beyond an employee’s work commitments. What motivates each participant will vary depending on the individual, and also the work load and the product release cycles in their division.

How does ThinkWeek work?

I thought the following would be interesting to add to the post for a couple reasons;

1. There was enough debate and minimally, curiosity, over how a traditionally, Bill Gates centric functionality would/could/should carry-over in a post BillG world.

2. As Bill may have been considered the hub in a hub and spoke model, it clearly shows how the participants (i.e., Advisors, Co-Chairs, and Reviewers) were and are, the “spokes” of the program/model.

3. For those that are either new to Microsoft or external to Microsoft, this program and its structure give you insight into Microsoft knowledge sharing and Innovation outlets.

The following is taken from our sites F.A.Q. section, so for those readers that work at Microsoft, please feel free to peruse the content for other such information.

“Any Microsoft employee can contribute a ThinkWeek paper. Authors begin the process by enlisting an advisor to help them refine their idea by reviewing it and providing feedback. An advisor should be carefully selected by the author, as the advisor can also help with the research and learning that are part of creating a ThinkWeek paper, and help make introductions across the company to socialize the idea prior to determining whether it should be written as a formal ThinkWeek paper.

Once the idea itself has been socialized and feedback obtained, the author can then produce a thoughtfully crafted, fully researched paper. The advisor must be willing to sign off on the paper in the contribution tool as being appropriate for ThinkWeek. Once a paper is accepted, it is routed to the most appropriate Co-Chairs, consisting of Technical Fellows, Distinguished Engineers, Senior Technologists, and other executives from across the company. The papers are then reviewed by small committees of readers, mostly made up of midlevel managers who are subject matter experts, headed by a Co-Chair. At this time, the paper is also published to the ThinkWeek Web site and is available to all employees for review, comment and rating. Employees create the Community rating of ThinkWeek papers. On the other hand, Co-Chairs and Assigned Reviewers create the Co-Chair rating.”

Now that BillG has chosen to focus on the Foundation, why are we still doing ThinkWeek?


“While Bill did initiate this process at Microsoft, ThinkWeek has proven to be a vital part of Microsoft’s product and corporate planning discussions, with a long list of successful ventures tracing their genesis to papers contributed and ideas generated each year. Building on this rich tradition, the redesigned ThinkWeek program cultivates the native engineering and business creativity of our employees, and broadens opportunities for all contributors within the company.“

What is the role of Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie in ThinkWeek?


“Ray and Craig were involved in architecting the next generation of ThinkWeek, and will undoubtedly be involved in reviewing papers. In fact, we have used the “Spotlight” section of the new ThinkWeek Web site to solicit papers specifically addressing next generation applications at the request of Craig because he is interested in the diverse perspectives and ideas Microsoft employees have on this subject.”


· The new program was redesigned based on feedback from Microsoft employees worldwide and includes a wider circulation of papers that are shared and socialized among an influential group of decision makers, managers, and company leaders who have interest in specific topics.

· We launched the new ThinkWeek site on time, on 7/6/09. Thanks to the team for all their hard work! (Dev’s - you can take those sleeping bags out of the office [for a while anyway J]).

· Apologies to my family for missing my nieces wedding on 7/4 due to the release. Part of that work-life” balance” ;-) Best wishes Maria!

· The new site has been well received and we have received several great papers already.

o Our first paper submission was in the category of Diversity and I love the title “Girl Geeks: Thriving as an Engineer in Microsoft Work Culture”.

· The paper currently has ~1,948 views and a community rating of 4/5 stars.

· I echo the comments of Rico Mariani, in that I too have had a number of female co-workers and managers and I believe this diverse exposure has contributed to my personal and professional growth.

· I was surprised at the statistics on the limited number of female Engineers in our industry. I guess I’ll keep working on my daughters to follow in my foot-steps. I personally can’t imagine choosing a different profession but I support any profession they are passionate about.

· We did the bulk of the development in Silverlight 3 and we utilized many of the RIA features to build the site.

· Schedule

o Call to action - Ok, Microsoft employees - Submit those papers *by 9/17/09* !

o Sept. – Oct: Co-Chairs manage review of papers

1. Co-Chair (Technical Fellows, Distinguished Engineers, Senior Technologists, and other executives) who will select reviewers (subject matter experts). These reviewers will read, comment, and rate the papers. The Co-Chair will do a final audit of the review feedback and ratings and then publish the formal feedback for the paper. In addition, the entire employee community at Microsoft can read, review, and rate the paper online.

2. Some Co-chair participants include such luminaries as; Qi Lu who is the president of Online Services (e.g., Search/Bing), Anders Hejlsberg Programming Languages Technical Fellow (of C# fame), Lisa Brummel (Senior VP of Human Resources), etc… There are ~46 Co-chairs.

· MS employees, check out the solicitations for papers if you are looking for a topic.

o Craig Mundie: The Next Generation of Killer Applications.

3. Btw, Craig submitted a paper on the subject as well!

o S. Somasegar: The Future of Client Development.

4. Btw, Soma’s blog is good resource for Microsoft developer information.

· Some site stat’s to date

o Most papers are submitted the day before close, so I won’t call out the number of papers received.

o We have already received ~15,000 unique visitors. Pretty good considering the total number of Microsoft “FTE’s”.

o We have ~1,445 subscribers to the ThinkWeek Community news letter.

o Total Page Views/Hits: ~676,028

I am looking forward to reviewing papers during the ThinkWeek ‘week’ (10/19-10/23).

Good luck to authors on achieving the ‘Best of ThinkWeek 2009’ paper recognition in November.