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DELAYING PAIN MEANS DELAYING CHANGE

When Facing Change, Don’t Delay the Pain

One of the more interesting tasks Bob Herbold faced during my business career was in 1997 when I was the COO at Microsoft and it was becoming very clear that the internet was for real and that someday people would no longer be buying software on CD’s.  They would be downloading software off the internet and totally eliminating the need for packaged software; i.e., a box containing CD’s and a manual.

To complicate matters, the manufacturing arm at Microsoft that produced those boxes employed about 500 people.  Also, Microsoft owned the manufacturing complex where all of this was produced.

The options were tough.  If you did nothing, then it clearly wouldn’t be long before the facility would be useless and 500 people will be left without jobs.  Option number two was to see if there was a buyer for the facility including all of the CD equipment and personnel.  In 1997, virtually all music was being sold on CD’s so we approached the various outsource vendors that produced music CD’s for the key players in the huge music industry.  We found a firm that was very interested and negotiated the price as well as the employment contract for all of our employees with the exception of a few managers at the top of that organization that the buyer clearly did not need.

Great 3 learning lessons:

1/ He who hesitates he losses

2/ Be clear

3/ Treat people fairly

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