Hit Refresh

Thought provoking book by Satya Nadella

The book is divided into 9 beautiful chapters:

  • Chapter 1 : From Hyderabad to Redmond (How Karl Marx, a Sanskrit Scholar, and a Cricket Hero Shaped My Boyhood)
  • Chapter 2 : Learning to Lead (Seeing the cloud through our windows)
  • Chapter 3 : New Mission, New Momentum (Rediscovering the Soul of Microsoft)
  • Chapter 4 : A Cultural Renaissance (From Know-It-Alls to Learn-It-Alls)
  • Chapter 5 : Friends or Frenemies ? (Build Partnerships Before You need them)
  • Chapter 6 : Beyond the Cloud (Three Shifts: Mixed reality, Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing)
  • Chapter 7 : The Trust Equation (Timeless Values in the Digital Age: Privacy, Security, and Free Speech)
  • Chapter 8 : The Future of Humans and Machines (Toward an Ethical Framework for AI Design)
  • Chapter 9 : Restoring Economic Growth for Everyone (The Role of Companies in a Global Society)

Notes from the book:

Chapter 2 : Learning to Lead (Seeing the cloud through our windows)

  • 3 Business and leadership principles learnt from cricket
    • To compete vigorously and with passion in the face of uncertainty and intimidation
    • The importance of putting your team first, ahead of your personal statistics and recognition
    • Have empathy, bring the best in everyone. Should know when to intervene and when to build the confidence of an individual and a team
  • I am always searching to understand people’s thoughts, feelings and ideas.
  • 4 essential skills to build an online, cloud-based business that would be accessed primarily from mobile phones rather than desktop computers
    • I thought I knew a lot about distributed computing systems, but suddenly I realized I had to completely relearn these systems because of the cloud. Elasticity is a core attribute of cloud computing architecture.
    • We had to become great at consumer product design
    • We had to be great at understanding and building two-sided markets – the economics of a new online business. (consumers on one side and advertisers on the other side)
    • We need to be great at applied machine learning (ML)
  • I found the key was agility, agility, agility
  • Any institution-building comes from having a clear vision and culture that works to motivate progress both top-down and bottom-up
  • To win their support, I needed to build shared context.
  • Microsoft was developing machine learning and AI capability as part of our products such as Bing, Xbox Kinect, and Skype Translator
  • More future-oriented perspective
    • We could continuously learn and improve
    • A leader must see the external opportunities and the internal capability and culture – and all of the connections among them – and respond to them before they become obvious parts of the conventional wisdom.

Chapter 3 : New Mission, New Momentum (Rediscovering the Soul of Microsoft)

Job one was to build hope.

Technology is nothing more than the collective soul of those who build it.

  • 2 questions I was still trying to answer
    • Why are we here ?
    • What do we do next ?

Consistency is better than perfection

  • Soon there will be 3 billion people connected to Internet, sensors, and the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • We wanted customers not just to use our products, but to love them.
  • Debates and argument are essential. Improving upon each other’s ideas is crucial. I wanted people to speak up.

“To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more”

  • To deliver on this promise of empowerment, I said that we galvanize all of our resources around three interconnected ambitions:
    • We must reinvent productivity and business processes. Start designing an intelligent fabric for computing based on four principles: collaboration, mobility, intelligence and trust. To be successful amid the explosion of data, people need analytics, services, and agents that use intelligence to help them manage their scarcest resource – time. That’s why we’ve invested heavily in security and compliance that set the standard for enterprises.
    • We will build the intelligent cloud platform, an ambition closely linked with the first ambition. Every organization today needs new cloud-based infrastructure and applications that can convert vast amounts of data into predictive and analytical power through the use of advanced analytics, machine learning, and AI.
    • We needed to move people from needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows by creating more personal computing.
  • Rediscovering the soul of Microsoft, redefining our mission, and outlining the business ambitions that would help investors and customers grow our company – these had been my priorities with the first inkling that I would become CEO.

Culture is how an organization thinks and acts, but individuals shape it.

  • Empathy is essential to deal with problems everywhere.
  • Growth mindset – mindset of being able to overcome any constraint, stand up to any challenge, making it possible for us to grow and, thereby, for the company to grow.
  • My passion to see technology became more accessible for people with disabilities and to help improve their lives in a myriad of ways.

Chapter 4 : A Cultural Renaissance (From Know-It-Alls to Learn-It-Alls)

  • False distinction simply to think of countries as either developed or developing
  • Cultivating growth mindset everyday in 3 distinct ways:
    • We needed to obsess about our customers. It is about being able to predict things that customers will love
    • We are at our best when we actively seek diversity and inclusion.
    • We are one company, one Microsoft – not a confederation of fiefdoms. It’s about getting outside that comfort zone, reaching out to do things that are most important for customers.
  • New opportunities in the education software space

Culture change is hard. It can be painful. The fundamental source of resistance to change is fear of the unknown.

  • We’re hard at work building the ultimate computing experience, blending mixed reality, artificial intelligence and quantum computing
  • We need to be willing to lean into uncertainty, to take risks, and to move quickly when we make mistakes, recognizing failure happens along the way to mastery.
  • Leaders need to act and shape the culture to root out biases and create an environment where everyone can effectively advocate for themselves.
  • If even top executives cannot find the time to unlock employee potential, the growth path for most corporate team members looks pretty static.
  • 3 leadership principles – for anyone leading others at Microsoft
    • The first is to bring clarity to those you work with
    • Leaders generate energy, not only on their own teams but across the company
    • They find a way to deliver success, to make things happen.

Chapter 5 : Friends or Frenemies ? (Build Partnerships Before You need them)

  • 3 C’s – concepts (outer ring) (conceptual vision), capabilities, culture (bulls-eye)
  • There are 4 initiatives every company must make a priority.
    • First is engaging their customer base by leveraging data to improve the customer experience
    • Second, they must empower their own employees by enabling greater and more mobile productivity and collaboration in the new digital world of work
    • Third, they must optimize operations, automating and simplifying business processes across sales, operations, and finance.
    • Fourth, they must transform their products, services, and business models.
  • 20-50 billion “connected-devices” will be in use by 2020
  • Compete hard and then equally celebrate the opportunities we create for everyone
  • Microsoft ambitions for the far-flung Internet of Things
  • Trust is built by being consistent over time
  • Mental model to capture how I manage time: Employees, Customers, Products, Partners

Chapter 6 : Beyond the Cloud (Three Shifts: Mixed reality, Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing)

  • mixed reality, artificial intelligence and quantum computing

We decided to look at our investment strategy across three growth horizons: first, grow today’s core businesses and technologies; second, incubate new ideas and products for the future; and third, invest in long-term breakthroughs

  • A confluence of 3 breakthroughs: Big Data, massive computing power, and sophisticated algorithms

Chapter 7 : The Trust Equation (Timeless Values in the Digital Age: Privacy, Security, and Free Speech)

  • What separates modern humans from the caveman is trust
  • In the heat of conflict, the pendulum often swings toward a greater focus on security
  • We do not believe that courts should seek to resolve issues of twenty-first-century technology relying on law that was written in the era of the adding machine
  • Six ways lawmakers can shape a framework for building increased societal trust in this era of digital transformation
    • First, we need a more efficient system for appropriate, carefully controlled access to data by law enforcement. Under a clear legal framework that is subject to strong checks and balances
    • Second, we need stronger privacy protections so that the security of user data is not eroded in the name of efficiency. Any government demand for user’s sensitive information must be governed by a clear and transparent legal framework
    • Third, we need to develop a modern framework for the collection of digital evidence that respects international borders while recognizing the global nature of today’s information technology
    • Fourth, we in the technology industry need to design for transparency.
    • Fifth, we must modernize our laws to reflect the ways in which uses of technology have evolved over time
    • Sixth, we must promote trust through security
  • Keeping information private increasingly does not mean keeping it secret

Chapter 8 : The Future of Humans and Machines (Toward an Ethical Framework for AI Design)

The challenge for those of us in the business of designing AI is to get not just the intelligence right, but also the human qualities – emotion, ethics, and empathy

  • Microsoft’s approach to AI:
    • First, we want to build intelligence that augments human abilities and experiences
    • Second, we also have to build trust directly into our technology
    • Third, all of the technology we build must be inclusive and respectful to everyone, serving humans across barriers of culture, race, nationality, economic status, age, gender, physical and mental ability, and more

Stop predicting what the future will be like; instead, create it in a principled way

  • Developing the knowledge and skills needed to implement new technologies on a large scale is a difficult social problem that will take a long time to resolve
  • While there is no clear road map for what lies ahead,  in previous industrial revolutions we’ve seen society transition, not always smoothly, through a series of phases.
    • First, we invent and desigh the technologies of transformation, which is where we are today
    • Second, we retrofit for the future. We’ll be entering this phase shortly
    • Third, we navigate distortion, dissonance and dislocation

Chapter 9 : Restoring Economic Growth for Everyone (The Role of Companies in a Global Society)

  • They are uncertain about investing in the latest technology, like the cloud
  • Cloud technology that enabled these innovations was now available to them without the need to invest a lot of capital
  • Edward Conard concludes that inequality ultimately leads to faster growth and greater prosperity for everyone

“Although automation tends to reduce employment and the share of labor in national income, the creation of more complex tasks has the opposite effect”


  • The priority of a global company should be to operate in each of these countries with the goal of creating local opportunity in long-term, sustainable ways

The new jobs will be predicated on knowing how to work with machines, but also on these uniquely human attributes

Recommended Books:

  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
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