Microsoft’s Stack Ranking and Its Poisonous Effect on the Company’s Culture

David Auerbach, writing for Slate:

Following Friday’s news of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s imminent retirement, postmortems of his lackluster 13-year reign have pointed to stack ranking — which, to be entirely fair, predated him — as both a cause and a symptom of the corporation’s decline. As a software developer and later development lead at Microsoft between 1998–2003, I had to evaluate others and be evaluated myself under this system. And I can say that yes, stack ranking is as toxic for innovation and integrity and morale as media reports made it out to be, and then some.

In a good culture, A players want to be surrounded by other A players. In stack ranking, A players want to be surrounded by B players.

Friday, 30 August 2013