Profiles in Management: The Tank Commander

13 Feb 2004 /
Tank

In the military, when I was in tank warfare and I was actually fighting in tanks, there was nothing more soothing than people constantly hearing their commander’s voice come across the airwaves. Somebody’s in charge, even though all shit is breaking loose. . . . When you don’t hear [the commander’s voice] for more than fifteen minutes to half an hour, what’s happened? Has he been shot? Has he gone out of control? Does he know what’s going on? You worry. And this is what Microsoft is. These little offices, hidden away with the doors closed. And unless you have the constant voice of authority going across the e-mail the whole time, it doesn’t work. . . . You can’t do anything that’s complex unless you have structure. . . . And what you have to do is make that structure as unseen as possible and build up the image for all these prima donnas to think that they can do what they like. Who cares if a guy walks around without shoes all day? Who cares if the guy has got his teddy bear in his office? I don’t care. I just want to know . . . [if] somebody hasn’t checked in his code by five o’clock. Then that guy knows that I am going to get into his office.

— Dave Maritz, former Israeli tank commander and former Microsoft Test Manager, MS-DOS and Windows, quoted in Microsoft Secrets

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