What constitutes a team?
What qualities should a team exhibit for them to attain success?
Why do some teams fail while others succeed?
The word "team" is overused in corporate world. Just because a group of people works together does not make them a team. A team is more than a group of people working together. To be a real team, there must be a spirit, where each person genuinely cares about his or her teammates’ success. There must be a willingness to bring out the best in others to achieve a common goal.
A team’s success is largely independent of their external environment or the tangible resources around them – the office, computers, desks, blackberries etc - all of which their competitors possess. Their competitors may even share a very similar product with very similar features. In professional sports, every team is comprised of excellent athletes who have nearly the same equipment and training available to them. So, why do some teams fail while others succeed?
Microsoft Corporation was originally founded in 1975 to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800. Microsoft rose to dominate the home computer operating system market with MS-DOS in the mid 1980, followed by the Windows line of operating systems. Microsoft achieved it’s original mission of “A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software”. It achieved the mission by developing software that ultimately became ubiquity in the desk top computer market such as MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office and Visual development studio.
On March 13, 1986 the company went public with an initial public offering (IPO), with a starting initial offering price of $21 and ending at the first day of trading at $27.75. Microsoft two founders Gates and Allen were made instant millionaires and eventually the IPO created four billionaires and an estimated 12,000 Microsoft employee millionaires. Gates owned 45% of the company’s 24.7 million outstanding shares and Allen roughly 25% . Gates stake was 234 million and Microsoft’s total value $520 million.
In 1989 Microsoft introduced Microsoft Office that bundled separate office productivity applications such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint. On May 22, 1990 Microsoft launched Windows 3.0 and it sold more than 100,000 copies in two weeks. Its products crushed competition that included WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3 and more because they were better. Users switched to Microsoft products because they were better and Microsoft made it easier to switch by supporting compatibility short cuts. Before Microsoft products users had to memorize a vast number of key strokes that are mapped to various function keys found on top of the computer key board (F1, F2 …. F12). A user who learned to use WordPerfect short codes could continue to use same key strokes on Word to format the documents this lowered users switching costs.
The Web Era:
In 1995 Microsoft released Windows 95, a new version of the company’s flagship operating system which featured a completely new user interface including the novel start button resulting in sale of more than a million copies in the first four days following the release.
However, just because Microsoft had access to large amount of resources could not propel the company ahead of Intuit in finance software industry or against Apple in consumer products or against Yahoo! In internet portal business or against Google in Search.
The reason why Microsoft attained success in MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Visual Studio for developers and it’s web browser Internet Explorer is because the teams behind these products were extremely passionate. They passion to solve the problem brought the teams together and created a team sprit that become the force for achieving greatness by creating products that were vastly superior to their competitors.
What helped Microsoft compete effectively against much larger companies like IBM or those that had much larger head start like Borland, WordPerfect or Lotus corporation? What prevented it from winning against Yahoo or Intuit or Google?