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by SixFigureStart | February 04, 2010


I suspect we haven't heard the last of "creative destruction" as a factor likely to have an effect on hiring this year. In fact, no sooner have we discussed the concept in light of being a reason not to stand still in your career, than an op-ed piece appears in the New York Times, opining that no less a firm than Microsoft is in danger of falling into the creative destruction trap.

The piece is no mere hypothesis by a bored tech writer struggling to find anything to replace the weeks of iPad speculation that ended recently: it was penned by former Microsoft VP Dick Brass. And what he has to say directly underscores the points made on this blog earlier this week: namely, that it is no longer at the leading edge of its industry—or, as Brass puts it, it "no longer brings us the future."

While some would point to Microsoft's enough profits—"well over $100 billion in the past 10 years alone," according to the article—Brass claims that that's no longer enough. A culture that "thwart[s] innovation" means top designers and developers are going elsewhere to work, leaving the house that Gates built relying ever more on aging products such as the Microsoft Office suite of software, and the various iterations of the Windows operating system. That, says, Brass, is akin to G.M. attempting to rely on trucks and SUVs even as new technologies and shifting consumer tastes were driving customers elsewhere.

All told, Brass' piece is a welcome reminder that even the biggest, most successful companies might not be the best places upon which to hang your career hopes. If a company is committed to doing things the way they've always been done, it will eventually be overtaken in the marketplace. The only question worth considering as an employee, then, is whether working for such a firm is holding you back in your career goals. Such a question might seem ridiculous when talking about a company of the stature of Microsoft, but if it manages to go much longer without a major breakthrough in one of its marketplaces—name one from 2000 to 2010 that compares to anything Apple did in the same period—then that stature may well become a thing of the past as well.

--Posted by Phil Stott,


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