Move Fast and Break Teams

Leadership Moment: No Teams Left Behind

It’s always interesting news when a company’s board fires its CEO, as OpenAI did with Sam Altman. When a large chunk of the company threatens to resign, and then Microsoft swoops in with a job offer too good to be true – no need to use Teams! – and the CEO fails to land his job back once, but finally gets it, there are leadership lessons everywhere. It’ll take longer than a newsletter to try to dive into the shifting issues, and there’s still a board to reconstitute, an independent investigation into conduct (both of the CEO and the Board), a pending fundraise, and who knows what else.

It’s the fascinating tidbit that, in an effort to keep the OpenAI team together at Microsoft, they wouldn’t have to use Microsoft Teams that has me fascinated. I recognize that communications software preferences can be a bit of a sensitive topic – almost like the vi/emacs wars – but it’s telling that Microsoft would acknowledge that its own tool is sufficiently problematic enough to be a dealbreaker for this set of employees.

The real question for Microsoft: do you recognize that the signal you’ve sent to your existing employees is that you think they’re trapped enough that they’re stuck with a product you’ve acknowledged is that problematic?

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One Minute Pro Tip: What If?

When something in the world changes, the most important leadership skill is to swiftly act with intention – even if the action is to choose to do nothing (rather than failing to choose to do anything). Unfortunately, most leaders don’t even realize they have an opportunity to act until after it passes. While it seems obvious you need to act when something happens right next to you, events a little further out in your ecosystem often leave leaders in a “wait and see” cycle of paralysis.

Play “what if” mental exercises with the next interesting event in the news. What if you worked at OpenAI when the board fired the CEO? What if OpenAI was a key partner of yours, or a material customer? Could you play brinksmanship like Satya Nadella, implicitly threatening the OpenAI board by offering to hire all of their staff? While playing out “what if” scenarios, you can consider outrageous moves, and then work through how others might respond to them.


Recent Appearances

Nov 14: Defense vs Resilience: A Secops Dilemma, Hunters Con

Nov 15: How to Build and Measure a Corporate Security Program, CERIAS Seminar Series

Blog: A Response to Harvard Faculty (on Harvard’s Antisemitism Policy)

DarkReading: How the Evolving Role of the CISO Impacts Cybersecurity Startups

Future appearances

Dec 8: Cyber Security Headlines in Review

Dec 11-13: CyberMarketingCon (Two talks: Stop Destroying Value, and 9 Answers Your CISO Prospect Needs)

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