Bill Gates’ New Rules

Read this article this morning from a link.
Written by Bill Gates 18 years ago.
(and how it holds true till today)

BG

 

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By BILL GATES Monday, Apr. 19, 1999

BILL GATES From Business @ The Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System, by Bill Gates. 1999 by William H. Gates, III. Published by Warner Books, USA.

If the 1980s were about quality and the 1990s were about re-engineering, then the 2000s will be about velocity. About how quickly business itself will be transacted.

About how information access will alter the life-style of consumers and their expectations of business. Quality improvements and business-process improvements will occur far faster. When the increase in velocity is great enough, the very nature of business changes.

To function in the digital age, we have developed a new digital infrastructure. It’s like the human nervous system. Companies need to have that same kind of nervous system–the ability to run smoothly and efficiently, to respond quickly to emergencies and opportunities, to quickly get valuable information to the people in the company who need it, the ability to quickly make decisions and interact with customers.

The successful companies of the next decade will be the ones that use digital tools to reinvent the way they work. To make digital information flow an intrinsic part of your company, here are 12 key steps.

For a large company to be able to maneuver as well as or better than a smaller competitor is a testament to both the energy of the employees and the use of digital systems. Personal initiative and responsibility are enhanced in an environment that fosters discussion. E-mail, a key component of our digital nervous system, does just that.

It helps turn middle managers from information filleters into doers. There’s no doubt that e-mail flattens the hierarchical structure of an organization. It encourages people to speak up. It encourages managers to listen. That’s why, when customers ask what’s the first thing they can do to get more value out of their information systems and foster collaboration in their companies, I always answer, E-mail.

I read all the e-mail that employees send me, and I pass items on to people for action. I find unsolicited mail an incredibly good way to stay aware of the attitudes and issues affecting the many people who work at Microsoft. The old saying Knowledge is power sometimes makes people hoard knowledge. They believe that knowledge hoarding makes them indispensable. Power comes not from knowledge kept but from knowledge shared. A company’s values and reward system should reflect that idea.

I like good news as much as the next person, but it also puts me in a skeptical frame of mind. I wonder what bad news I’m not hearing. When somebody sends me an e-mail about an account we’ve won, I always think, there are a lot of accounts nobody has sent mail about. Does that mean we’ve lost all of those? A good e-mail system ensures that bad news can travel fast, but your people have to be willing to send you the news. You have to be consistently receptive to bad news, and then you have to act on it.

 Sometimes I think my most important job as CEO is to listen for bad news. If you don’t act on it, your people will eventually stop bringing bad news to your attention. And that’s the beginning of the end.

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