Secret sauce: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella asked employees not for profits, but for individual growth

An excerpt from the India-born Nadella’s book about his leadership, ‘Hit Refresh’.

Earlier in the year, Anu had handed me a copy of Dr Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Dr Dweck’s research is about overcoming failures by believing you can. “The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.” She divides the world between learners and non-learners, demonstrating that a fixed mindset will limit you and a growth mindset can move you forward. The hand you are dealt is just the starting point. Passion, toil, and training can help you to soar. (She even writes persuasively about what she calls the “CEO disease,” an affliction of business leaders who fail to have a growth mindset.)

My wife wasn’t thinking of my success when she gave me Dr Dweck’s book. She was thinking of the success of one of our daughters who has learning differences. Her diagnosis took us on a journey of discovery to help her. First was the internal journey, concern for her but also the need to educate ourselves. Next came action. We found a school in Vancouver, Canada, that specialises in learning differences like hers. We spent five years of our lives splitting time and family between Vancouver and Seattle in order to augment her regular schooling while keeping Zain’s care consistent in Seattle.

All of this meant separation at many levels: husband and wife; father and daughters; mother and son.

We were maintaining two lives in two countries. Anu drove thousands of miles between Seattle and Vancouver in rain, snow, and darkness, and so did I on alternate weekends for five years. It was a trying time, but Anu and the girls made some exceptional friends in Canada. As a family, we learned together that these predicaments were universal. Families from California, Australia, Palestine, and New Zealand converged on the Vancouver school with issues and challenges. I discovered that recognition of these universal predicaments leads to universal empathy – empathy for and among children, adults, parents, and teachers. Empathy, we learned, was indivisible and was a universal value. And we learned that empathy is essential to deal with problems everywhere, whether at Microsoft or at home; here in the United States or globally. at is also a mindset, a culture.

As I continued my speech at the global sales conference, the empathy I felt for my kids and the empathy I felt for the people listening in that audience were on my mind and in my emotions. “We can have all the bold ambitions. We can have all the bold goals. We can aspire to our new mission. But it’s only going to happen if we live our culture, if we teach our culture. And to me that model of culture is not a static thing. It is about a dynamic learning culture. In fact, the phrase we use to describe our emerging culture is ‘growth mindset,’ because it’s about every individual, every one of us having that attitude – that mindset – of being able to overcome any constraint, stand up to any challenge, making it possible for us to grow and, thereby, for the company to grow.”

I told my colleagues that I was not talking bottomline growth.

I was talking about our individual growth. We will grow as a company if everyone, individually, grows in their roles and in their lives. My wife, Anu, and I had been blessed with wonderful children, and we’ve had to learn their special needs. at has changed everything for us. “It’s taken me on this journey of developing more empathy for others. And what gives me deep meaning is that ability to take new ideas and empathy for people; to connect the two and have great impact. at’s what gives me the greatest satisfaction. It’s why I work for Microsoft. And that’s what I aspire for each one of you to do as you work here.”

Our culture needed to be about realising our personal passions and using Microsoft as a platform to pursue that passion. For me, my greatest satisfaction has come from my passion to see technology become more accessible for people with disabilities and to help improve their lives in a myriad of ways.

Just as my predecessor Steve Ballmer had done at these annual gatherings, I’d closed my speech with a call to action, but one with a very different mood and purpose. I had essentially asked employees to identify their innermost passions and to connect them in some way to our new mission and culture. In so doing we would transform our company and change the world. When you’re CEO, these goals can be easy to imagine, but when an employee’s aperture is smaller – a marketer in Malaysia or technical support in Texas – such a mission can seem distant and unattainable. So the challenge I’d set forth in my speech might be a daunting one. I wondered whether I’d connected with the audience or left them baffled and untouched.

Feeling my emotions beginning to overcome me, I skipped my last slide and quickly exited the stage. Jill pointed at the doorway to the auditorium, not my private green room, “Watch with them.” As a video started presenting not just the year’s progress but the expansive, mission-driven opportunity ahead, I slipped back into the auditorium through a side entrance. No one could see me in the darkened auditorium. Every eye was glued to the screen, but I was watching them, gauging the emotion in the room. Everyone was locked in and some were softly wiping away tears. I knew then that we were onto something.

Excerpted with permission from Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone, Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. Published by Harper Business, an imprint of HarperCollins.

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The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.


The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.