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Bill Gates' Management Style 362

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the behold-the-glorious-borg-icon dept.
replicant108 wrote in to give us Tom Evslin's fascinating account of working for Microsoft in the early 90s. "So you're in there presenting your product plan to billg, steveb, and mikemap. Billg typically has his eyes closed and he's rocking back and forth. He could be asleep; he could be thinking about something else; he could be listening intently to everything you're saying. The trouble is all are possible and you don't know which. Obviously, you have to present as if he were listening intently even though you know he isn't looking at the PowerPoint slides you spent so much time on. At some point in your presentation billg will say "that's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft." He looks like he means it. However, since you knew he was going to say this, you can't really let it faze you. Moreover, you can't afford to look fazed; remember: he's a bully."
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Bill Gates' Management Style

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  • by N8F8 (4562) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:36AM (#19010583)
    The most important thing to have for any project is a CHAMPION. So if you aren't ready to champion your own idea then you are wasting everybody's time.
    • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:09PM (#19010849) Homepage Journal
      But not everyone can be a champion. You have to have followers to have leaders. Just because you are a follower doesn't mean you aren't smart, or not worthy of working on X project. You know what happens to corps where the leader/follower ratio is skewed? DOWNSIZING.
      • by JacksBrokenCode (921041) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:51PM (#19011171)

        But not everyone can be a champion.

        Read TFA. "That meant that I and the other product managers...". Not everyone has to walk into a meeting like this with billg and stand this trial by fire. If you're a product manager, you should be the ultimate champion of your product.

        • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:08PM (#19011293) Journal
          It was a test. And you failed. All of us.

          Like I was telling my daughter yesterday, the appropriate thing to do when you meet such a person is to drill them in the nose with your knuckles as hard as you can, unless they outweigh you by a significant margin, in which case you should hit them with a chair until they crumple to the ground.

          This is how you deal with bullies.

          You certainly don't turn yourself one after another into his bitch and make him rich as reward for his antisocial behavior.

          I bet Bill wears an "Everything I needed to take over the world, I learned from the bully in kindergarten" T-shirt to bed as a nightie.
          • Like I was telling my daughter yesterday, the appropriate thing to do when you meet such a person is to drill them in the nose with your knuckles as hard as you can, unless they outweigh you by a significant margin, in which case you should hit them with a chair until they crumple to the ground.

            Forget it. The chair would get to within a foot of Bill's nose before being parried by Darth Balmer's lighting counterstrike. Bill would then begin a wide gaped laughing as their pair of you batter each other back and forth across the meeting room to a backdrop of animated powerpoint slides and starfield screensavers.

            Two important facts stand against you
            1) Balmer is not related to you
            2) There are no impossibly deep shafts nearby.

            Even if your friends managed to get the firewalls down, how are they going to get all the way into the heart of Redmond campus to save your fallen ass? You gave into your anger. Such is the reward of the dark side.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by drsmithy (35869)

            Like I was telling my daughter yesterday, the appropriate thing to do when you meet such a person is to drill them in the nose with your knuckles as hard as you can, unless they outweigh you by a significant margin, in which case you should hit them with a chair until they crumple to the ground.

            Or you could take the civilized course of action and simply make such a compelling presentation of, and argument for, your product that your opponent is shown to be wrong.

            The appropriate thing to do when confronte

            • Bullies (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Z34107 (925136)

              The appropriate thing to do when confronted with a bully is to either a) ignore them, or b) make everyone else see how wrong they are

              Dude, I totally agreed with that one kid when he said being drowned in a toilet at the wrong end of a swirlie was, well, wrong. Too bad a) ignoring things rarely fixes them and b) having everyone agree with you that getting beat up every day after school is wrong won't keep you from getting beat up after school.

              Violence is rarely a "good" solution to a problem, but that

    • True enough. Though if you found this article interesting, you should try reading Barbarians Led by Bill Gates [amazon.com]. It's an insider's perspective on the going-ons inside of Microsoft in the early days. It's especially freaky to learn that they started coding much of Windows in BASIC. (Which I suppose comes as no surprise given that the Microsoft of the time was known as "the BASIC company".) Just like in this article, Gates was described as the King of the Hill with whom very few of the developers wanted to tangle.

      A particularly amusing anecdote was when the author was working on a clock application for Windows. He found the BASIC flood-fill routine to be buggy and quite poor, and set about to rewrite it. He then headed for Gates' office to tell him that he wanted to replace the existing flood-fill routine "because it was crap". (Or something to that effect.) Some of his coworkers tried to warn him off, but he headed straight in and showed off his work to Gates. After forcefully championing his work to Gates, Gates agreed to allow the fix. As he came out of Gates' office beaming, one of the coworkers said to him, "You know who wrote the original flood-fill routine, don't you?"

      Yep, it was Gates. And the author had just told him that his code was crap to his face. Doh! :-P
      • by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:22PM (#19011401) Homepage Journal
        That story of the Flood-fill rewrite makes Billg sound like a great manager. So does being the richest guy in the world...
      • Untouchable crap (Score:5, Interesting)

        by toby (759) * on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:27PM (#19011443) Homepage Journal

        This parable illustrates how personal defects get in the way of quality. If the code is crap, the code is crap, no matter who wrote it. If politics or sensitive egos block improvements, quality suffers. Compare EgolessProgramming [c2.com].

        This "my code is perfect" attitude is alive and well. A friend of mine started a new job recently and found that his boss:

        • Considered himself in the top 1% of programmers
        • Described every line of code he had written for the company's application as "perfect"
        • Refused to use any version control system, yet was part of a team
        • Wrote no comments, and no documentation
        • Re:Untouchable crap (Score:5, Informative)

          by 75th Trombone (581309) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @04:17PM (#19012653) Homepage Journal

          This parable illustrates how personal defects get in the way of quality.

          Dude, did you even read the comment you were responding to?! It said that Gates ALLOWED THE FIX!! I mean, I don't think Bill Gates is some kind of role model or anything, but having someone come into your office to unwittingly call your own code "crap" to your face, and then going along with what that person says, is NOT a "personal defect" of any kind.

      • by chris_eineke (634570) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:30PM (#19011453) Homepage Journal

        And the author had just told him that his code was crap to his face. Doh! :-P


        "And the soldier had just told him that torture was against Western values to his face. Doh! :-P"
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by RealGrouchy (943109)
        Even if he didn't realize it at the time, telling off the richest guy in the world is pretty frickin' awesome.

        Keeping your job after it is just icing on the cake!

        - RG>
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        He found the BASIC flood-fill routine to be buggy and quite poor, and set about to rewrite it.

        I remember at Z-Soft in 1986 where Z-Soft was licensing a small Windows version of PC Paintbrush to Microsoft, a comment from Z-Soft founder getting off an exasperating phone call with someone at Microsoft.

        "I could just write a flood fill routine for them if that's what it takes."

        That would have been same time period the clock was being written too.
    • by Maestro4k (707634) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:36PM (#19011039) Journal

      The most important thing to have for any project is a CHAMPION. So if you aren't ready to champion your own idea then you are wasting everybody's time.

      There's a distinct difference between expecting someone to champion their project and being a bully and abusing them verbally. Telling every person that their project idea is "the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft." is just being downright mean. Especially when you just glare at them coldly after they defend themselves (as the article points out).

      And then you get people who'll imitate the behavior without the smarts to back it up, so it becomes nothing BUT abuse. (Middle management for example.) I think Bill's management technique explains a lot about Microsoft's behavior over the years and why they're so disliked in the technical community. In fact looking back at how MS acted during their two biggest trials (the US anti-trust and EU anti-trust) you can see this "bullying" all over the place. Acting like a bully when you're the defendant in court is not a good idea. It'll just piss the judge (and possibly the jury) off, and they're the ones passing judgment on you.

      Besides, it's not like this technique has worked incredibly well for MS, especially in areas like security. MS has also put out some really lousy stuff over the years, like MS Bob, that were apparently "championed" all the way to release, then bombed. Maybe if Bill had developed a culture less focused on bullying they could have avoided some of those things, and saved money. When you force every one of your employees to defend their projects in such a manner then how many are going to be willing to listen when people point out problems with them? You can't have any second doubts if you have to defend your projects constantly, so people will stop listening to any criticism, leading to lower quality all around.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by N8F8 (4562)
        Whatever you choose to believe from your limited insights in MS or any other company's management, in the end there has to be that person who has the balls to have a vision and follow through with it. It's also true that is is very difficult to be an effective leader and be liked by all the folks working for you. Few people like having to answer to authority, be held accountable for their actions or do what it takes to get the job done - no matter what.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SerpentMage (13390)
        Is it really bullying or abuse? Ok, the physical act may be, but I am asking in a bigger context. I am guessing they were the way they were because it was what made them great. I am guessing they were thinking, "heck this is how we became a 10,000 employee company and thus it must be good." And to a degree it is.

        Sort of like Google who for some odd reason has this itch to test everybody's ability to fine tune a bubble sort. While I can agree some Google folks needs to know this, most probably don't. Yet I s
        • by Maestro4k (707634) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:13PM (#19011777) Journal

          There's a world of difference between telling everyone that their idea is "the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft." and testing potential hires on how they'd fine-tune a bubble sort. One's belittling and demeaning along with being untrue (and known to be untrue by the person saying it) most of the time. (You simply can't say this and it be true every time, also it's not just saying it's a bad idea, but the worst idea he's ever heard, making it much more difficult for the statement to be true.) The other one is seeing how creative someone is technically. In Google's case they're using this to judge the quality of potential employees before deciding whether to hire them or not. They're not alone in testing potential hires in such a manner, although they do seem to go above and beyond what most companies do.

          As far as adapting, Google seems to adapt better than Microsoft, at least so far. MS tends to ignore certain markets/new directions until it's completely obvious they were wrong and missed the boat. (The infamous move to go after the Internet is one good example of this.) MS also seems to be better at following others than leading, for example in Internet search and online advertising most recently. This is not to say that MS isn't ever innovative (I think their Live service for Xbox has been innovative at least in some areas), but that that they seem to follow other's innovations more than they innovate themselves. Google has a big advantage for adapting because of their letting employees spend 20% of their time on personal projects. When those projects become useful they can be launched as a company project/product and more people assigned to them. That allows them to try out tons of different directions continually. Also they keep improving their products and do so at a quicker rate than MS does, although MS is more hampered with their traditional release cycle for products like Office and Windows. Gmail is a good example there, new features still get added even though it's no longer considered beta, and the product today is far more useful than it was at launch.

          As far as Google Apps goes the whole point is that it's an online app, I wouldn't expect to see an offline component anytime soon. I do expect to see them offer servers that you can run on your local LAN/WAN with versions of Google Apps on them that'll address some of the concerns about losing access to the apps if your Internet connection goes down. You can get a local search appliance now, so I think it's just a matter of time. I suspect they've not worked out all the details yet on how they'll maintain those Apps Appliances and keep them updated and that's why they aren't offering them already.

        • by fwarren (579763) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @05:24PM (#19013269) Homepage
          It is abuse....period

          I have worked with several types of managers over the years. It may be my own personal preferences, but I WILL NOT work in that kind of environment. It is one thing to sit around with friends, and have them kick your idea to the curb and having to defend it. It is another thing all together when someone you are working for who is inscrutable pulls that on you.

          I have worked for a boss like that. He would look at you with the cold dead snake eyes, and ask you a question. He has already decided in his mind what response he wanted, and if you did not give it, you were demoted or fired. The problem was, he would either ask you question a) something he believed in and wanted you to champion the idea to him, or b) some straw man, which you had to strongly disagree with. He was always very quiet and never let anyone in on where the company was going or what he was thinking, everyone was always having to take the multiple choice quiz. There was only one manager that had been with him 15 years, everyone else was 5 years or less.

          For me, that did not work. I like having an idea what the boss is thinking. Being able to get my job done, not having to ask stupid questions, and then being able to anticipate what they might need in the future and providing that for them. Quite frankly between working at a place where any question could be my demise, and my employer is thinking, well a new higher will make $2.00 less an our. Or a job where they apologize for giving you a 25% raise the first year you are there, because it is not any larger than that. I will take the second job. Which by the way, does not come with the boss who is a bully.

          On the plus side, yes Windows is the monopoly that it is today. On the downside, they have championed legacy compatibility at the cost of security. Finally we arrive at Vista, a prodcut that is out of touch with it users. Who needs it? Businesses? Home users? What is it's target audience? What does it do better than XP? Vista is like a car that costs 4 times as much as last years model, is larger, gets less than half of the mpg of last years model. It has less trunk space but "a bitching dashboard", with all of the controls and readouts moved from what everone else has used in the industry for the last 50 years.

          What kind of thinking do you think it took to make that product, what kind of leadership. What items were championed into the prodcut, and what items where championed and pushed the backer of it out the door? By which I mean, this bully attitude is NOT working for Microsoft. They are not going to stay "an industry leader" if they keep working that way.
           
      • by robla (4860) * on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:34PM (#19011489) Homepage Journal

        ....is not an interesting problem to solve.

        It's hard to argue that Gates' persistent bullying was anything but good for shareholders [google.com] for at least the first 13 years of public trading. Even though the stock price has been relatively stagnant for the past few years, revenue and profit growth [google.com] are proof that the company still has healthy numbers.

        However, anyone considering working there needs to ask themselves what they really want to accomplish in life. Looking back, it can't be very fulfilling to say "I helped make that company successful. I fit in, by emulating the bullying, belittling style of my bosses all the way to the top, and now look what we've created!"

        There are plenty of companies out there (*cough* [1]) who are trying to be successful while actually also having the kind of environment where you look forward to seeing the people you work with. Having hippy-dippy ideals creates plenty of problems, but they are way more interesting problems than the problems you find at a company like Microsoft.

        1. Shameless plug [lindenlab.com]

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jcr (53032)
          I disagree. The floods of cash they've made from catching IBM's fumble, and then applying illegal tactics to drive Lotus and Wordperfect out of business masked the fundamental problems that are now biting them on the ass.

          -jcr

      • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:35PM (#19011497) Homepage Journal
        It's not just mean; it's stupid. (And not just because being mean to people when you don't have to is stupid, although that's also true.) Kind of a "boy who cried wolf" thing -- if your boss tells you every single thing you come up with is stupid, sooner or later you're going to stop paying attention to his judgement at all, and just go ahead and do your own thing regardless of what he says. OTOH, if he tells you that your smart ideas are smart, then when he tells you that one of your ideas is stupid, you'll pay attention.

        Yes, I think this explains Microsoft's behavior in court ... and also the general bug-ridden bloat of pretty much all their software, even the stuff that (unlike Bob) succeeds on the market. If no one has any yardstick by which to judge their work, then course most of their work is going to be crap.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:59PM (#19011219)
      "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." --Bertrand Russell
    • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:22PM (#19011397) Journal
      I heard from people who work with international teams that this is the american way of doing. You need a champion, you need a super-hero who will be credited for the whole project. This is a bit shocking for other cultures I must say.
  • by Tuoqui (1091447) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:39AM (#19010619) Journal
    Linux?
  • by toby (759) * on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:41AM (#19010633) Homepage Journal
    ...And we can be sure he gets to hear a lot of dumb ideas.

    But why greenlight them, bill?
  • by capebretonsux (758684) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:41AM (#19010641)
    I wouldn't last very long at Microsoft, by the sounds of it.

    "that's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft."

    And 'Clippy' was a great idea?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 0racle (667029)
      Bob
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:54AM (#19010751)
      The actual Great IdeaTM here was MS Bob. Clippy derived from there. MS Bob was managed by Melinda French, now a.k.a. Melinda Gates. You don't say "that's the dumbest fucking idea" to your gf. So Clippy was hired essentially to try not to waste all the effort that went into creating the totally flopped Bob.
    • by happyemoticon (543015) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:03PM (#19010819) Homepage

      Well, as coarse as his management style is/was, a key ingredient in its success may have been in the fact that he's a really smart guy who wants to be convinced of why your ideas are right, and while he's a tough customer, he can be convinced.

      Now, there are a lot of boneheads on Planet Earth. Everybody has worked under a PHB who you have to practically subvert in order to keep your company afloat. But far more insidious are smart people who don't know how to argue or debate - or, if they do, replace actual discussion with fallacy. They use tactics such as circular arguments, attrition, argument from authority, ad-hominem attacks and stonewalling to prevent any actual reason from taking place. And usually, they're the most powerful person in the room, so your only option is to say, "Actually, sir, you haven't responded to any point I've made, and I think some outside factor is influencing your decision." Yippee.

      • by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:15PM (#19011351) Journal
        I've never understood why people don't just leave in workplaces like that. It' s not like you have some good reason for company loyalty if the management is indeed a bunch of irrational fucktards. Don't just quietly leave, explain clearly why you are leaving. You like the job and the pay is fine, but there is too much internal bullshit to make the job worthwhile. When Billg says "That's the dumbest idea I've heard ..." respond by saying "You are wrong, it is an excellent idea. Your criticism is niether constructive, nor professional. I will be taking my ideas elsewhere." Then immediately leave the room, perhaps the building. So before you present your idea to Billg you should look for a new job. Hopefully you won't need the new job if Billg actually does see the value of you idea, but much more importantly he will also have to acknowledge the value of you. Sure, he still might want you to prove your idea to him, but Bill Gates is smart enough to be able to come up with insightful questions without being rude. I can only imagine this technique is an artifact of Bill Gates being, on some level, scared shitless of the size and responsiblity that MS has become. It's a "trick" that might work with some reliablity, but it's something he should have outgrown long ago. Management can only treat employees like shit when we let them, they need us at least as much as we need them. Following these princples I've doubled my income (and respect from managment)in the last three years. No, not all of this happen with one employer. I did have to walk away from one stable, but poor quality of life, job.
        • by dcollins (135727) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @08:57PM (#19015225) Homepage

          Don't just quietly leave, explain clearly why you are leaving. You like the job and the pay is fine, but there is too much internal bullshit to make the job worthwhile. When Billg says "That's the dumbest idea I've heard ..." respond by saying "You are wrong, it is an excellent idea. Your criticism is niether constructive, nor professional. I will be taking my ideas elsewhere." Then immediately leave the room, perhaps the building. So before you present your idea to Billg you should look for a new job.

          That's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been on Slashdot.

  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:45AM (#19010669)

    At some point in your presentation billg will say "that's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft." He looks like he means it. However, since you knew he was going to say this, you can't really let it faze you.
    This explains why no one put a stop to IE, ActiveX, UAC, etc. when he said it. So I guess Mr. Gates isn't responsible for everything wrong at Microsoft ... it's the people who didn't listen to his good judgment. ;-)
  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:45AM (#19010671) Homepage Journal

    Maybe you should've spent less time on the PowerPoint slides and more time thinking about how your idea was going to (figuratively) grab Billg around the throat and shake him until he said, "That's the best idea I've ever heard since I've been here at Microsoft."

    I mean, shit, do you really think you're going to impress the CEO of Microsoft with a PowerPoint presentation, of all things?

    • by writermike (57327) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:54AM (#19010749)

      Maybe you should've spent less time on the PowerPoint slides and more time thinking about how your idea was going to (figuratively) grab Billg around the throat and shake him until he said, "That's the best idea I've ever heard since I've been here at Microsoft."



      I mean, shit, do you really think you're going to impress the CEO of Microsoft with a PowerPoint presentation, of all things?

      I've worked with bosses like that. Presuming you could impress them, they'd never let you know it. They still tell you your idea sucks and that you suck and that they don't understand why they hired you in the first place. They wish you were dead, sock you in the gut, etc. They're bullies. That's the point of the article, I think.

      In general, however, I don't know if this story is an example of 'billg' so much as it is an example of asshole bosses, of which there are legions.
      • by l3v1 (787564)
        They still tell you your idea sucks

        And there are ones that tell you that your idea sucks only to come around a few days later and tell you a revolutionary new idea that he'd come up with - yep, you're idea. Some do that intentionally, some are just too f*cked up to even remember who's idea that was in the first place.
         
      • by egyptiankarim (765774) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:44PM (#19011109) Homepage
        I remember learning about this managerial style from George Bluth who constantly shot down his son's business ideas in order to keep him constantly striving to gain his approval. I'm still waiting to read the Slashdot post about BillG burning his hands on a cornballer :)
    • by Taagehornet (984739) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:57AM (#19010767)

      It might also be that the idea wasn't any good after all...

      Not all former MS employees hold a grudge. Joel Spolsky appears thoroughly impressed with his former boss: My First BillG Review [joelonsoftware.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by DogDude (805747)
      Somehow, I doubt that any good CEO is going to be impressed by a Powerpoint presentation, itself. It's the content that they're interested in, not the color of the clip-art. You could also hand them a sheet of paper explaining whatever it is you're trying to explain, as well. A good CEO isn't an idiot that's going to be swayed by pretty pictures.
  • Poker (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tribbin (565963) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:46AM (#19010673) Homepage
    No wonder he's ####ing good at poker.

    Oh, go see 'Pirates of Silicon Valley'. You'll enjoy it.

    http://imdb.com/title/tt0168122/ [imdb.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:46AM (#19010675)
    After a State Dept. staffer turned in their first report to the big boss, it would frequently come back with a scrawled note indicating it was totally unacceptable, slipshod work, etc. The staffer would go back and spend the next couple weeks furiously researching and revising before submitting a completely rewritten draft. Back would come the comment that it was "not good enough -- should be much more thorough". After another three weeks of research, the staffer would add a cover letter to the latest rewrite begging the boss to specify where the report fell short, since the staffer had now spent practically all of their waking hours over the past two months working on it, etc.

    "In that case", Kissinger would say, "I'll read it".

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...you should see that bastard during the regular mandatory Satanic rituals that all MS employees must attend. Suffering a powerpoint is nothing compared to watching the flying entrails of an infant. The company gym and caf is nice and all, but I'm wondering if I made the right decision.
  • Creepy... (Score:4, Funny)

    by oogoliegoogolie (635356) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:50AM (#19010709)
    "that's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at xxxxxxx."

    I've heard rumors that that the same line can be heard at my corporation, in addition to fist-on-desk pounding, and finger pointing. No chair-throwing though, yet.

  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:51AM (#19010719)
    From TFA:

    At some point in your presentation billg will say "that's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft." He looks like he means it. However, since you knew he was going to say this, you can't really let it faze you. Moreover, you can't afford to look fazed; remember: he's a bully."
    That sounds a lot like Steve Jobs except for the closed eyes and rocking back and forth. Couldn't Bill Gates even come up with an original management style?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by crazyeddie740 (785275)

      That sounds a lot like Steve Jobs except for the closed eyes and rocking back and forth.
      Which sounds a lot like Asperger's. Maybe there is some truth to the rumors?
  • Obviously (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:52AM (#19010723) Homepage
    that may be one way of managing things. It may just be that he tries to unbalance the presenter and see if the presenter is able to catch up. If the presenter is catching up then the idea may not be so bad after all... But the problem here is that this will be much more dependent on the presenter than the idea itself, so in the end it's not a really good filter for good/bad ideas.

    This is usually the problem within any organization - people with good ideas but bad presentation skills can either develop the ideas and ask forgiveness later or forget about the whole idea unless they can get the idea to someone that's a good presenter.

    It will be far better management style to actually give constructive criticism, but that is also a lot harder.

  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:55AM (#19010757)
    msshill: "So Bill, this world wide web thing is really starting to take off in the academic world. I think it's time we started making our own browser and include it with all installs of Windows."
    billg: "That's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft."

    Yep, sounds about right...
    • by HighOrbit (631451) * on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:26PM (#19010969)

      msshill: "So Bill, this world wide web thing is really starting to take off in the academic world. I think it's time we started making our own browser and include it with all installs of Windows."
      billg: "That's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft. By contrast, over here is the best idea I've seen in a long time; its a new user-interface paradigm. I call it 'Bob'"
  • Yep (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I worked at MS on the VS.NET IDE - a coworker who demoed to Gates told me that the guys who demoed CLR in the same meeting were white as a ghost when he was done with them (though we're nerds in redmond so we didn't get much sun anyway). Apparently CLR was a little slow.
  • Joel on BillG (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lachryma (949694) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @11:59AM (#19010793)
    Reminded me of Joel on Software's first BillG review [joelonsoftware.com] and how he handled it.
    • by andyr (78903)
      Mod parent up.
    • Re:Joel on BillG (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rikkus-x (526844) <rik@rikkus.info> on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:19PM (#19010925) Homepage
      Sounds like he handled it like a teenage girl meeting her pop idol.
    • by syousef (465911)
      I want to hear what he has to say, but I don't like the guy. Every fucking article Joel writes is written in a superior holier than thou "I'm better than you and here's proof" kind of tone. In this case he's boasting about how he managed to out-think Bill Gates and answer Bill's most difficult question - something he claims no one else had ever done. Why doesn't Bill say fuck more than 4 times? Joel claims because he convinced Bill he was right and competent. No mention that this might just have been a good
  • he's a bully

    Sounds more like an abusive jerk.
    Fits right with Ballmer throwing chairs.
    Definitely needs some "special" energy to do what Microsoft is doing.

  • Few people can pull that off. If it's understood that once you pass the trial by fire, the boss respects you and your work, I can see that becoming the sort of thing that would make people feel like they'd earned their place and work harder. Like passing the crucible and becoming a marine. However, I can also see that becoming just an excuse to abuse people. In fact, I have not personally met a manager that treated their employees so harshly that was a good one.

    Then there is also the fact that if you undere
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:12PM (#19010877)
    Bill Gates' dad is a lawyer. He came from a family where "cross-examination" in a legal sense probably went on from time to time (i.e. questioning a hostile witness). It sounds like he was inculcated with the culture.

    Also, when dealing with judges, particularly when the witnesses or jury are out of the room, lawyers can face something that can be pretty similar to what was described here. So, ok, it's hard on the computer scientists, but welcome to what lawyers get to deal with all the time. It's an accepted practice.

    Long and short of it--make sure your thinking is done BEFORE you present. Otherwise, as is to be expected, you're toast, whether the "toasting" is done by the CEO or a judge.
  • by Flying pig (925874) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:25PM (#19010955)
    I had one of those bosses. Only my idea wasn't just dumb fucking stupid, I took too long to tell it. (Well, he did have a degree in journalism, and you could see how that would fit you for CEO of a tech company.)

    Only, being naive and not realising this was just challenge #101, I left, joined a small company which just grew and grew, then left after a difference of opinion with the CEO, then joined a startup which just grew and grew. Interestingly, our CEO is able to motivate people without a single swearword.

    It's nice for Microsoft that it is so big and all, but (as Scott Adams notes somewhere, I think) all the really smart people prefer to live in Switzerland as compared to the US, i.e. to live somewhere where even politics is truly local and individualism is valued versus somewhere where the driving forces in society are completely out of your control and individualism is just having a different alignment of ballpoints in the pocket protector.

    It must have been really exciting and creative to work for Microsoft - once. Perhaps some of the pent up anger in the founders, if it is reported accurately, is simply because, even for them, it's no fun anymore.

  • Shock and awe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by akypoon (258201) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @12:36PM (#19011043)
    It's a pretty common tactics to throw your presenter off guards. Some people use this as a way to gauge the competency of the presenter. I know one university professor who is famous (or notorious, depends on your perspective) for using this tactics.
    • Re:Shock and awe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:24PM (#19011425)

      Some people use this as a way to gauge the competency of the presenter.

      Or he could just be an asshole.

  • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:05PM (#19011265) Homepage Journal
    melindaf: So I've got this great idea, it's this little smiley face that helps you manage your tasks and do your work!

    billg: That's the dumbest-

    melindaf: You want some tonight or not?

    billg: ...

    melindaf: How about we call it Bob.
  • by Jeian (409916) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:11PM (#19011317)
    Don't let me get in the way of everyone's dogmatic Gates-hate, but Linus Torvalds operates in a similar way.

    "I'm always right. This time I'm just even more right than usual." Torvalds, Linus (2005-07-14). Message to linux-kernel mailing list. Retrieved on 2006-08-28.

    "If you still don't like it, that's ok: that's why I'm boss. I simply know better than you do." Torvalds, Linus (1996-07-22). Post to comp.os.linux.advocacy newsgroup. Retrieved on 2006-08-28.

    That's all, return to your ranting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PPH (736903)
      Bill and Linus may have similar approaches to their product, but its how they deal with people that differs.

      Gates seems to spend more time cutting people down than ideas. When you're making a proposal to management, you need to be prepared to have it picked apart. But that needs to be done constructively and without making it personal.

      It appears to me that Gates is trying to play 'tough guy'. This is a technique I've seen on jobs requiring physical strength but not much thinking. The biggest, toughest,

    • by Maestro4k (707634) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @04:37PM (#19012825) Journal

      Don't let me get in the way of everyone's dogmatic Gates-hate, but Linus Torvalds operates in a similar way.

      "I'm always right. This time I'm just even more right than usual." Torvalds, Linus (2005-07-14). Message to linux-kernel mailing list. Retrieved on 2006-08-28.

      "If you still don't like it, that's ok: that's why I'm boss. I simply know better than you do." Torvalds, Linus (1996-07-22). Post to comp.os.linux.advocacy newsgroup. Retrieved on 2006-08-28.

      This isn't comparable to what Gates is doing in the article. According to that Gates would tell everyone that their idea was "the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft." and didn't really mean it. He was saying it simply to make the presenter defend their idea, not saying "you're wrong and we're not going to do it that way". In both of the above quotes Linus is seems to be saying that he's right and that they will be doing it his way.

      Linus could certainly be more tactful with how he worded those things, but I do note a distinct lack of cussing and (at the least) less drastic hyperbole. And how about some context to those quotes? On the second one at least I found you left off a bit before that that makes the whole thing much less worse than it sounds: "In short, at least give the penguin a fair viewing. If you still don't like it, that's ok: that's why I'm boss. I simply know better than you do." I don't think it's unreasonable for Linus to be taking that attitude about the mascot that will define the OS that he created. He was apparently listening to input on it anyway, more than you can say for most people in that situation.

    • gem of irrelevance (Score:3, Interesting)

      by toby (759) *
      Now look at the context. LKML is, if nothing else, an eternal debate between intelligent individuals.

      MS is a fiefdom, riddled with politics, inflexible, where the billionaire cadre at the top are entirely insulated from reality, and every other layer of the pyramid wants what they've got. Furthermore, they're well known to be gold plated dysfunctional assholes.

      If Linus were a gold-plated asshole, the rest of LKML would soon figure it out, and go do something more rewarding than sniff his butt crack.

      Money gr
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2007 @01:19PM (#19011379)
    billg: "that's the dumbest fucking idea i've heard..."
    presenter: "this is madness!"
    billg: "THIS IS MICROSOFT!!!" *looks at steveb and points to a chair*
  • by jbrader (697703) <stillnotpynchon@gmail.com> on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:10PM (#19011753)
    When billg says, "That's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft," what you should reply is, "Bullshit, how could it be any dumber than a talking paper clip?"
  • Decisions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hachete (473378) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @02:58PM (#19012119) Homepage Journal
    At least

    1. He makes decisions
    2. He lets you know what he thinks

    Must fucking managers never do either then back-stab you into oblivion. No, not bitter. Not bitter at all
  • sounds familiar? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ClosedSource (238333) on Monday May 07, 2007 @01:37AM (#19017083)
    Bully? Disrespect for people's opinions that differ from his? Sounds like many of us hear on Slashdot.

"Wish not to seem, but to be, the best." -- Aeschylus

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