Delivering the keynote at Microsoft’s annual CEO Summit last week, Microsoft head honcho Steve Ballmer discussed the difficulties associated with consistent innovation. Using Windows Vista as an example, Ballmer quipped:
The saga of our Windows product is probably one of the better chronicles, and I’m sure many people went through a cycle either at home or at work with our Vista product. It was just not executed well, not the product itself, but we went a gap of about five, six years without a product.
I think back now, and I think about thousands of man-years and it wasn’t because we were wrong-minded and thinking bad thoughts and not pushing innovation. We tried too big a task, and in the process wound up losing essentially thousands of man-years of innovation capability. And so a discipline and execution around the innovation process, I think, is essential.