Notes on ‘Hit Refresh’, a book by Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella

Before actually reading it, the book ‘Hit Refresh’ seemed an interesting way to get some insights on the evolution of Microsoft, from the point of view of his new CEO. Having in mind the behaviour of that company in the past, becoming a supporter of open source and open innovation is not a minor change.

However, after having finished the book, reviewing my notes I would highlight some lessons related to leadership:

«I think that is perhaps the number one thing that leaders have to do: to bolster the confidence of the people you’re leading»

«The first is to bring clarity to those you work with. This one of the foundational things leaders do every day, every minute. In order to bring clarity, you’ve got to synthesize the complex«

«Second, leaders generate energy, not only in their own teams but across the company. It’s insufficient to focus exclusively on your own unit. Leaders need to inspire optimism, creativity, shared commitment, and growth through times good and bad«

«This, and finally, they want to deliver success, to make things happen. This means driving innovation that people love and are inspired to work on; finding balances between long-term success and short-term wins; and being boundary-less and globally minded in seeking solutions»

The relevance of creating, transforming and nurturing the culture of an organization as the most important task of the CEO:

«But as management guru Peter Drucker once said, «Culture eats strategy for breakfast«

«I like to think that the C in CEO stand for culture. The CEO is the curator of an organization’s culture. […] anything is possible for a company when its culture is about listening, learning and harnessing individual passions and talents to the company’s mission»

And how to do it with empathy, diversity, transparency and customer focus:

«things are always changing. If you could understand impermanence deeply, you would develop more equanimity. You would get not too excited about either the up or downs of life. And only then would you be ready to develop that deeper sense of empathy and compassion for everything about you«

«They wanted a clear, tangible and inspiring vision. They wanted to hear more frequently about progress in transparent and simple ways. Engineers want to lead again, not follow. They wanted up the coolness»

«We need no just value differences but also actively seek them out, invite them in. As a result, our ideas will be better, our products will be better, and our customers will be better served»

«it’s about getting outside that comfort zone, reaching out do things that are most important for customers. For some companies this come more naturally. For example, those tech companies born with an open source mentality get it. […] I tell my colleagues they get to own a customer scenario, not the code»

Finally, a key sentence to understand both the evolution of humankind and the collaboration within any group of people:

«What separates modern humans from the caveman is trust»

As the historian and writer Yuval Noval Harari tells in ‘Sapiens’, it was the ability to imagine together what made the Sapiens become kings on Earth. Trust, built on shared and common dreams, in a nutshell.

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