This is the question Satya Nadella asks himself to guide how he runs Microsoft (MSFT)
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella asks himself "If Microsoft disappeared tomorrow, will anybody miss us?" and whether the "core sensibility" Microsoft represents would be lost.
Nadella told reporters on Monday he's rethinking the meaning of the company's mission statement with that question in mind.
He's determined that the company's "core sensibility" is thinking about business as people and institutions, rather than as either consumers or enterprises.
This blurring of the lines between consumer and enterprise is already taking shape at Microsoft, including hiring for a new team that helps Microsoft serve the personal and professional aspects of customers' lives.
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The question Satya Nadella asks himself to guide how he runs Microsoft is: "If Microsoft disappeared tomorrow, will anybody miss us?"
Nadella took over as Microsoft CEO in February 2014 and by the following summer introduced a new mission statement for the company: "to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more." Nadella told reporters at a special media briefing in New York on Monday that he's rethinking what that means.
"I'm a big believer that every company has to have a sense of purpose and mission," Nadella said. "Firms don't need to outlive their relevance ... so therefore that sense of purpose and mission needs to be something that you have to keep front and center. Of course, you have to reinterpret this for what is a changing world."
'Rethinking' Microsoft's mission
Nadella, who is 52, said he asks himself whether anyone would miss Microsoft if it disappeared tomorrow, and whether any sensibility the company represents would be lost. With that mind, he said he's revisiting the company's mission statement for the new decade.
Microsoft's "core sensibility" is thinking about people and institutions from a software perspective, Nadella said. Nadella said doesn't think of business as either enterprise or consumer, but as people and institutions.
This blurring of the lines between consumer and enterprise is already taking shape at Microsoft.
Microsoft as recently as last month was hiring for a new team that a company executive once explained was part of a vision to "win back" the "magic" it lost with consumers. The idea is to create a business that serves the personal and professional aspects of customers' lives.
Microsoft's mission statements over the years
Microsoft's mission under founder Bill Gates was to put "a computer on every desk and in every home." Nadella on Monday said that was a bold goal, but not a mission as Microsoft had pretty much achieved Gates' vision in the developed world by the end of the 1990s. (Nadella has spoken about this in the past, saying "it always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.")
The company's previous mission statement, under former CEO Steve Ballmer in 2013, was "to create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most."
While it took a while before Nadella changed Microsoft's official mission statement, he started undoing Ballmer's pretty quickly. He told employees in an internal email shortly after starting the job that "devices and services" was helpful in starting Microsoft's transformation, but it needed a new strategy.
Nicholas Carlson contributed reporting to this story.
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