Striving for broader perspective

Today was the first day of a 2-day offsite with a group of senior leaders in Visual Studio, including both managers and architects.  We spent a lot of time talking about our business, not just what it is today but how it could change over the next 5+ years.  What trends are underway, and how far will they go?  What changes in our environment might happen, and how might we react to them?  What changes might we want to cause, and what opportunities would they present?  The discussions we had were great, and the caliber of the people that we have for this kind of work gives me a lot of confidence that we’ll make good long-term decisions that will benefit customers.


Stepping away from our day-to-day work of shipping VS 2005 (aka Whidbey) for two days can be difficult and somewhat stressful, but it is an important part of the work that we do as leaders.  It’s difficult or impossible to lead a team without bringing a broader perspective to bear.  Routinely dedicating time to strive for broader perspective is critically important.  At Microsoft, we have two routines that encourage this – fiscal year planning in its various forms, and product cycle planning, which is what we were focusing on today.


We had originally planned to do a social dinner tonight, but ended up canceling it since so many people had family commitments already.  My wife had already made plans to go out with a friend – including arranging for a babysitter -- so I managed to get a few errands done and have a nice swim workout before heading home.  I know I’m thinking about work a lot when I can’t count laps while swimming, and that we definitely the case tonight.  I had a lot of things to think about from today’s offsite, and I take that as a sign that it was successful.  Striving for the broader perspective is more about asking questions than about answering them.  I’m happy to have a very distracted swim workout if it means that we are asking the right questions.


Happy C# coding!