Unions in the 21st Century

The Mini-Microsoft blog is legendary at Microsoft.  'Mini' as he is known among employees is a very even-keeled yet frustrated guy who is fed up with the bureaucracy, incompetence, and spin he sees every day where he works.  He writes the blog, and over the past year or so it's developed an important following.  His most popular subjects are compensation and corporate hierarchy (stack ranking), which is a system in which managers have to game the system to reward productive members of their teams while screwing other people.  

A friend of mine at the company tells me that every single line manager has had at least one conversation spurred by Mini-Microsoft.  He tells me that Mini is so trusted that employees get talking points from the blog, and go and talk to their managers, and then those managers all push upwards with what they've learned.  It's grassroots change at the corporate level, and is changing the way the company does business.

The comment area of Mini-Microsoft is full of comments by Microsofties, ex-Microsofties, investors, ex-investors, prospective employee, competitors, and managers.  It's a fascinating model of worker organizing, journalism, or whatever else you want to call it.  It's information about the internal life of a company that you simply cannot get through any other mechanism except an online community led by a powerful natural leader.  It is in fact the first sketches of a genuine internet-based workers' movement forcing the hand of executives who are out of touch.

SEIU, pay attention.

UPDATE: A Microsoftie sends in this email:

The “talking points” connotation might not be the right one. What it is is that mini gives a vocabulary to frustrations most employees are already feeling. Because mini puts words to the ideas, the employee doesn’t have to say, “I think we hold too many meetings.” Instead they can say, “What do you think of this blog post?”

The second thought would be that it isn’t that upper management is out of touch. Upper management (Bill, Steve, Sinofsky) they get it. They talk about the same stuff Forbes and mini talk about. It’s middle management that has isolated itself from the line employees and executives that don’t get it. Or worse: they like the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy keeps them safe and employed. It is really difficult to get a middle manager fired because they can identify all kinds of ambiguous risks to the point where it isn’t worth trying to make the case to repurpose them. Mini is giving us a toolkit of hyperlinks to be able to reverse the base assumption of “we need to hire more people” to “fewer people, empowered people, is better: prove otherwise”.

Tags: Labor (all tags)

Comments

3 Comments

Good strategy, but . . .
Is there a mini-Apple blog instead  :-D

Then again Steve Jobs would have a tantrum and destroy (not fire, DESTROY) any one who dared to question him outside of his "reality-distortion field."

by Trowaman 2005-12-08 09:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Good strategy, but . . .
anonymity...

bill gates ain't a nice guy either...

by Matt Stoller 2005-12-09 04:08AM | 0 recs
more links
Industrial Workers of the World
http://www.iww.org/

Communications Workers of America
http://www.cwa-union.org/

LabourStart
http://www.labourstart.org/

LabourStart is the most active and informative site regarding union issues that I have found.  Any other suggestions would be appreicated.

by goplies 2005-12-08 10:40PM | 0 recs

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