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Microsoft takes competition too far

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

A little healthy competition can be, well, healthy. Internal competition allowed to go too far, though, can be destructive.

Dick Brass, a Microsoft vice president from 1997 to 2004, says that at Microsoft, internal competition has created a dysfunctional corporate culture in which big, established groups prey upon emerging teams.

The result: Innovative ideas—and the minds that created them—are often hectored out of existence.

For example, Brass says, when a team was building the tablet PC in 2001, “the vice president in charge of Office at the time decided he didn’t like the concept. The tablet required a stylus, and he much preferred keyboards to pens and thought our efforts doomed.”

So the VP wouldn’t modify the popular Office applications to work well with the tablet. “It was essentially allowed to be sabotaged,” Brass says.

And that sort of destructive competition is a far cry from healthy.

—Adapted from "Microsoft's Creative Destruction," Dick Brass, The New York Times

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