Yesterday, IT Business Edge blogger Rob Enderle posted a piece that is partially a response to feedback he received after a post on The Five Things You Aren't Allowed to Discuss About Linux, partially a rundown of what is wrong with Microsoft, and partially an explanation of his personal philosophy on technology analysis and speaking truth to power. He's a big fan of the latter but sometimes feels lonely in that stance, he says.
But let's face it. Executives at much smaller companies than Microsoft are overwhelmed, sometimes to the point of inaction (not to mention mistaken action), by huge volumes of data from a plethora of sources. The art of business intelligence is separating the wheat from the chaff and delivering the good stuff. Could it be that Microsoft's executive suite is suffering from a hard case of garbage-in-garbage-out? And if that is the root of problems like product delays and failures, a deteriorating corporate image and marketing failures, how best to address it?
Enderle's take is that, contrary to what his detractors may believe about his approach to Microsoft, providing positive evaluations of successful efforts along with constructive criticism of plans gone awry is the best way to be heard. It's a simple strategy; who among us can take constant harsh criticism of our every move? Steve Ballmer is only human, after all.
When execs (well, OK, their companies) shell out good money and time investments for strategic advice from expert sources, they're probably expecting to get at least some hard truths out of it. Denis McCauley, director of Global Technology Research for The Economist Intelligence Unit of The Economist Group, told us in a recent IT Business Edge interview that in communicating with their CIOs, CEOs say they know they "aren't knowledgeable enough, or that they aren't getting sufficient information to help them understand."
That's a cry for help.
If the CEO can't get that information from trusted insiders, for political or other reasons, and seeks outside counsel, the consultant who delivers both a pat on the head and a slap on the wrist is most likely to help create positive change, says Enderle.