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Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone Hardcover – 26 Sep 2017
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‘With every new technology, there are challenges. How do we help people whose jobs are replaced by AI agents and robots? Will users trust their AI agent with all their information? If an agent could advise you on your work style, would you want it to? That is what makes books like Hit Refresh so valuable. Satya has charted a course for making the most of the opportunities created by technology while also facing up to the hard questions. And he offers his own fascinating personal story, more literary quotations than you might expect, and even a few lessons from his beloved game of cricket’ Bill Gates
About the Author
Satya Nadella is a husband, a father, and the chief executive officer of Microsoft – only the third in the company’s forty-year history. On his twenty-first birthday, Nadella emigrated from Hyderabad, India, to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in computer science. He joined Microsoft in 1992. As much a humanist as a technologist, Nadella defines his mission and that of the company he leads as empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more
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Now let’s move to the probable reasons as to why you should read it.
1. To know Satya Nadella’s journey from India to Microsoft
Satya Nadella’s journey is encouraging as well as powerful. His story shows us that how hard work and talent can lead you to the places you only dream about. Satya belongs to a middle-class Indian family. He talks about his life and friends in India and how his parents shaped his future to be a better human being. He was and is a big cricket enthusiast and he explained how the game of Cricket actually helped him to learn the qualities like leadership and empathy. The part where Satya told about his initial move to the US was very moving. His wife was having trouble in getting the visa and he was ready to give up his green card in case she did not get it. But luckily she got it. I was surprised to know that their first child is disabled. I can understand the difficulties that they would have faced. There were so many things to learn from Satya’s examples. He encourages you to take challenges and to listen to your heart sometime. He tells the importance of family and how it helps make your future.
2. If interested in knowing more about Microsoft and how actually Microsoft did “hit refresh”
It was fun to know the internal working of Microsoft. When Satya became the CEO, and even the years before that, Microsoft was going downwards. He took many decisions which not only changed the face of Microsoft but allowed them to transform the Microsoft completely. The decisions were not at all easy, but it was important to take those. Satya Realised that except Office, none of their products were selling as they had speculated because of the competition going on in the market from the rivals like Amazon and Apple.
Satya did many changes in the company’s culture and took a complete 180 degrees turn (Hit Refresh) to not only encourage the employee’s satisfaction but also encouraged them to have more empathy. He encouraged them to learn more, to ask questions and to participate fully.
3. If you want to know what actually goes behind successful companies and their struggles
This is not a hidden fact that so much politics go inside big companies like Microsoft. It was amazing to know the work culture of Microsoft, its various work programmes, its team divisions and inside details. If you are someone who likes to join Microsoft someday or is simply fascinated by it, you would find it particularly interesting. It doesn’t matter how big is an organization. There is always a room for more improvement and growth. Microsoft was too lenient a few years ago and employees were unsatisfied. Satya tried to change this and thus helped Microsoft to come out of the difficult phase.
4. If you are a tech person or love technology
Oh yes! If you simply love technology you should read this whether you are in a technical field or not. Satya has talked about many technologies which I was amazed to hear for the first time. There was seriously so much to learn about the new products that Microsoft is making or the current projects they are working on. I had heard many of the names before, but I had never gone into the details of things like quantum computing and artificial intelligence. But Satya’s words will take you on that amazing journey. As per him, currently there are three big technology trends: artificial intelligence, mixed reality and quantum computing and they have to work towards making a hold on those.
5. If you want to learn the basic importance of leadership, empathy, equation of trust etc.
This was my favourite part of the book. It was more like a moral teaching. Satya told that in today’s world we should try to make friends even with our enemies. He describes how partnerships with companies like Samsung, Adobe and Apple have provided benefits to Microsoft and have given future alliances to strengthen themselves with a clear focus. With making the enemies friends (fre-enemies) often we can get profits in some fields, if not at all. He talked about the importance of leadership and how that leadership quality helped him to overcome the failure that Microsoft was going towards.
There is a lot to learn from this book. Not only you can learn many things about Satya himself, but also about the Microsoft’s journey and the changes, it incorporated in order to survive. This book can get a little technical in between. But if you are a technology enthusiast you should definitely read this. You should read this to understand how technology is going to change and is going to affect YOU and what role you can play into this.
Keep empathy in forefront of all actions. Empathy grounds and centers the Leader. Build deeper empathy and understand the needs of employees and customers. Products built with empathy in mind will better serve customers and help companies stay relevant in the dynamic world. When a Leader has empathy for his employees, he can drive effective and lasting changes.
Make culture change a priority. Any big change can happens only when Leader works on the culture of his team or company. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Culture is a complex system made of individual mindsets. Culture is how a company thinks and acts, but individuals shape it.
We should not just value difference, but actively seek differences and invite them. As a result our ideas will be better, our products will be better and customers will be better served.
Leader should invest effort/time in building the shared context & understanding within the team to drive change. If the team doesn't see what is in Leader''s mind, trust in the idea, believe in the Leader, driving change will be harder.
What was the situation at Microsoft when Satya took over? What did he inherit? And what is it that he wants to change? Trying to bring about culture change in such a big organization is not easy, it is a painfully slow grind but the author’s efforts have slowly started showing results. In the latter sections, the author takes a deep dive into technologies of the future, and how Microsoft is “trying to imagine a better future for everyone”. It is this that I liked the most. The author writes about key technologies Microsoft is betting on. Which are these? What can they do? And where are we – the human race - heading?
In recent times, the growth of technology has also thrown up difficult issues surrounding privacy, security, free speech and government surveillance. The author discusses these delicate issues, rightly ruing that laws always lag technological changes, causing friction between regulation and the corporation. Role of companies in modern society is also discussed.
Do give this book a read – it did change my perception of Microsoft, for the better.
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