Monday, February 11, 2008

Only The US Military Can Save MicroHoo

With so many bloggers getting into details about this potential deal, the one thing that stands out like an igloo in Egypt is how in the world can they bring these two groups of people to rally under one flag. At tonight's NYSIA event, one of Henry Blodget's strongest statements was that bringing the two cultures of Microsoft and Yahoo together would be certain "disaster." Should this deal go through, the only organization that has successfully proven over time to bring people with great differences and backgrounds together is the US military. Even if they follow Henry's advice and create a standalone company, Microsoft and Yahoo need to rally their troops under one cause if they are to compete.

The program known as "Basic Training" has united individuals to fight for the same cause more than any other group save maybe religions. The key to Basic's success is that participants are put through hardship. They are dealt enough hardship that eventually weaknesses emerge. This causes members of the team to start helping other members to ultimately accomplish the goals of the group. This process breaks down preconceived barriers, differences and statuses and begins to build the new team as a unified group. With a creative mix of physical and "work related" tasks I think Microhoo can devise a program that can accomplish the same results as Basic Training.

But before you send waves of people into training, a name change seems critical. During and after Basic Training, the American flag is the rally point. Right now Microhoo does not have a rally point. Microhoo needs a rally point that is neither Microsoft nor Yahoo. Whether it's a stand-alone company as Henry Blodget suggests or a sweeping name change, the troops that need to sit shoulder to shoulder in the cubicles need to have a rally point. If you really wanted to optimize employee loyalty, give them the keys to deciding on the name change. Let them farm out the process, make suggestions and pick the winning name.

Many of New York's finest were present tonight as I had the pleasure to chat with Allen Stern who has a good summary of tonight's event here,Nate Weistheimer, Hank Williams, Bill Sobel and Sanford Dickert. When the topic of mixing cultures came up most of the crowd laughed and shook their heads in acknowledgment. Should this deal go through, how to mix these two naturally opposing groups will be the only issue to solve, as all will depend on it. If they don't solve this issue and break out of the box to do it, the next media story of the decade will be Google's antitrust suit as they will grow untethered until then. "Drop and give me fifty" just might be the answer.

photo credit from Armyof1and10

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